High-intensity interval training or HIIT is a type of workout program that burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. As an umbrella term, HIIT encompasses a plethora of workouts and programs that involve short bursts of intense exercise with ample recovery periods in between. The best thing about HIIT workouts is that just about anyone can do it. You don’t have to be an expert in order to perform HIIT workouts. As long as you learn and master proper form and breathing, you’re good to go!
What makes HIIT effective?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), HIIT workouts are effective because it tends to burn more calories compared to traditional steady-state workouts. Another benefit of doing HIIT workouts is that you will still be burning calories long before your workout is done. Why is that?
A person’s excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC has been proven to be greater after HIIT workouts compared to regular workouts because of how strenuous and vigorous HIIT workouts are to the body. HIIT workouts are also known to improve the body’s oxygen consumption during the recovery phase which, in turn, helps improve a person’s endurance.
However, reading about HIIT doesn’t mean you can just perform any type of exercise at a faster rate than what you normally do. The best course of action to take is to consult your primary care physician first before trying out a HIIT workout. Making sure that your body is able to withstand vigorous workouts is a must for any HIIT newbies out there. HIIT workouts may range from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes long and should be performed at about 80% of a person’s maximum heart rate.
7 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training
Scared of trying out HIIT workouts? Need convincing? Here are seven health benefits of HIIT that would make you want to include high-intensity workouts as part of your exercise regimen.
1. HIIT workouts help you burn more calories
Despite how quick HIIT workouts are, HIIT workouts can actually burn more calories than your regular workouts. The ACSM says high-intensity training exercises take you in and out of an anaerobic state. When your body reaches its anaerobic state, your heart and lungs are pushed close to maximum capacity. In the anaerobic state, your metabolism is improved and your body burns more even after the workout is done as your body tries to work overtime in repairing your muscles. Thus, even if you’re done working out, your body continues to burn calories in order to repair your body.
2. HIIT workouts engage your whole body
If you were searching for quick workouts on Google, you’ve probably come across the 10, 20, pr 30-minute full-body HIIT workouts on the search results. The truth is, you can actually focus on different muscle groups while doing HIIT workouts. And, without meaning to, you would be engaging some muscle groups that are also worked along the way.
For instance, jump squats are known to be one of the most common exercises used in HIIT exercises. Jump squats work your legs and your glutes but did you know that jump squats engage your core as well? Engaging your core during jump squats keeps your chest up and your back flat. Without meaning to, you’re also working your core to ensure that you’re keeping the proper form.
3. HIIT workouts improve your metabolism
HIIT workouts improve your body’s metabolism long after your workout is done. As your body enters the EPOC phase during your workout, the need for oxygen increases and your body overcompensates by burning more calories during your rest intervals and hours after your workout is over.
4. HIIT workouts help you get leaner faster
Bodybuilding.com, one of the leading fitness websites, has published an interesting article about how HIIT workouts can help you get a leaner physique. According to the article, HIIT increases fat oxidation. This means that during HIIT workouts, the body’s reliance on fat oxidation increases while the reliance on carbohydrates decreases. This means that you burn more stored fat when doing HIIT workouts which would help you lose weight and look leaner. In another article, the British Journal of Sports Medicine claims that people who did interval training lost 29% more body fat compared to those that did regular or steady-state workouts.
5. HIIT workouts are great for your mental health
In a study published by the University of Texas, HIIT workouts have been found to boost a protein called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. BDNF is part of the neurotrophin family of growth which is related to the nerve growth factor. According to the study, the BDNF protein is also involved with cell repair, cognitive function, and mood regulation. By boosting the body’s BDNF, your body undergoes a phase of quickened cell repair as well as regulates your mood which could help address depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
6. HIIT workouts improve heart health
It’s common knowledge that exercising contributes to improving our cardiovascular health. However, what sets HIIT apart is how it puts focus on training our heart. Chip Gay, a clinical exercise specialist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Minnesota says, “Exercise strengthens all the muscles in your body, including your heart muscle. Interval training forces your heart to alternate between working hard and recovering. Doing that multiple times in a single workout can help your heart become more efficient.”
In another study by the American College of Cardiology, it has been found that HIIT has also brought significant benefits among patients in a cardiac rehabilitation program. The study has also presented findings that patients who practiced HIIT lost more body fat, gained more lean muscle mass, and trimmed more inches off their waists – which all played a role in improving their cardiovascular health.
7. HIIT workouts don’t need equipment
The best part about HIIT workouts is that it doesn’t need any type of equipment. Don’t get us wrong though, you can definitely do HIIT workouts with your favorite gym equipment. So if gyms aren’t really your thing and you have no space for bulky fitness equipment, HIIT workouts are perfect for you!
We hope you enjoyed scrolling through our quick guide to the benefits of HIIT workouts. Let us know in the comments below about your favorite HIIT workouts and we’ll feature them in our next article.
Until next time!