The top 5 benefits of high intensity interval training

The top 5 benefits of high intensity interval training

High intensity interval training (HIIT) seems all the rage at the moment. With the popularity of mega franchise F45, along with many other fitness businesses offering HIIT style classes, this may explain why HIIT is number 1 on the list of fitness trends for 2018.

HIIT is basically when you perform a short burst of high-intensity (or max-intensity) exercise, followed by a brief low-intensity activity repeatedly until you are too exhausted to continue.

HIIT is not new – initial forms of interval training started in the early 1900s. Over the years different versions have been developed to help athletes and sports people perform better, move faster and get stronger.

The key difference between Interval training and HIIT is that HIIT focuses on maximal burst (extremely intense) working periods, while interval training can involve lower to moderate intensities (even in the working phases). I describe HIIT as interval training on steroids.

Added to the mix is Tabata training which is one of the most popular forms of HIIT. It traditionally consists of eight rounds of ultra-high-intensity exercises in a specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval. It may only take four minutes to complete a Tabata circuit but those four minutes may well push your body to its absolute limit.

A HIIT training session may involve a fast run following by a slow jog. Or a short sprint up a flight of stairs followed by a walk back down. Or doing 10 burpees followed by a rest period for 30 seconds.

Whatever form of HIIT you do, there are some fantastic benefits to this type of training. So here are my top 5 benefits when doing HIIT.

1. Burn some serious calories and fat

You can burn calories quickly using HIIT. Studies have found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories than other forms of exercise. It is common for HIIT workouts to be much shorter than traditional exercise sessions because you burn about the same amount of calories but you spend less time exercising.

HIIT is great if you have a limited amount of time to work out. Studies show that 15 minutes of high intensity interval training burns more calories than jogging on a treadmill for an hour.

And how about this, in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout your body burns more calories and fat compared to a steady-paced workout – true story.

2. Great for the heart

It’s hard for most people to push themselves to an anaerobic zone where you lose your breath and feel your heart pounding faster and faster. With interval training it’s easier to push yourself to that level because of the rest interval that comes right after you reach that point. This helps keep a healthy heart and helps blood flow effectively throughout your whole body.

3. Increase Oxygen Consumption

Oxygen consumption is your cardiorespiratory system’s ability to efficiently use oxygen—from the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and everything in between. Just 20 minutes of HIIT four days a week can improve oxygen consumption by nine percent over five weeks. This matters because your cardiorespiratory system allows you to suddenly run up the subway stairs, chase after your kids or sprint after the bus.

4. Tailor the workout to your fitness level

If you are starting off, you can always tweak your work-to-rest ratio, as well as the moves you’re doing. It is important to make the workout training challenging but manageable for your level.

Longer rest periods, such as 60 or 90 seconds and shorter work intervals of 30 seconds or less is a good place to start. Or focus on working at 70 percent of your effort and slowly build up to 100. You want to slowly work your way toward a higher intensity on the work interval, reducing the the rest intervals so  your body adapts to the work.

5. You will never get bored

HIIT workouts offer seasoned workouts a new challenge and beginners a quicker way to see results. You are constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone therefore you can never get bored with your workout!