How HIIT Workouts Can Improve Your Fitness Level

December 17 2013, 0 Comments

Have you heard about HIIT? High Intensity Interval Training is a workout style which has been creating a buzz in the fitness world for some time now, and takes an alternative approach to building endurance and burning fat.

What is HIIT?

As the name suggests, HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise, followed by a period of less intense exercise, known as recovery, then repeating this cycle several times for between ten and twenty minutes in total. HIIT can be done either indoors or outdoors, with the kit that is available  to you– in fact, virtually any type of aerobic exercise can be used for HIIT training, from running or cycling, to using a treadmill, jump-rope or elliptical trainer.

Why Is HIIT Different?

The main difference between HIIT and other forms of training which build endurance is that the same results can be achieved in less time.  Without getting too scientific, there are two forms of energy which our bodies use during bouts of physical activity. Anaerobic, meaning without oxygen, is the type of energy which is used during activity of up to one minute, and after, aerobic energy is produced through burning of carbohydrates and fats. In endurance training, which involves extended periods of exercise, only the aerobic energy system is used. When performed correctly HIIT uses both forms of energy. Anaerobic energy is used during the short “push yourself to the limit” section, while aerobic energy is used during the recovery. HIIT, then, offers a more rounded solution to building up these energy systems and your endurance.

Method

A typical HIIT session begins with a warm-up of 5 – 10 minutes in duration, which is an essential to warm up the muscles and reduce the possibility of injury. Taking running as an example, you would start with a fast sprint – of anything from 10 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your current fitness level. This would be followed by spending twice the amount of time that you sprinted for, jogging more slowly – so if you sprinted for 10 seconds, you have 20 – 30 seconds of recovery before sprinting again.  It is important to note that during the recovery, you must keep moving, as this helps to prepare your body to return to intense movement. An HIIT session is always finished off with a cool-down and it is suggested that you perform this type of workout a maximum of twice weekly, with one rest day between sessions.

Why Choose HIIT?

  • HIIT has been the subject of numerous studies and the physical benefits of this style of training are many. Several studies have shown that this type of training has a stimulating effect on the metabolism and can help burn body fat, as well as improving general health and physical condition.
  • HIIT workouts are shorter than your typical gym session, so can easily fit around your lifestyle and is not time consuming.
  • Anyone who is in general good health can benefit from including HIIT in their fitness routine, however it is wise to consult with your health care-provider to discuss your plans.