Most people know that physical inactivity is harmful to their health. It is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Unfortunately, many people feel that they don’t have enough time to exercise. Some people expect immediate change in physical health after starting exercise and when they don’t see the impact immediately, they skip the exercise.
What if we offer you a type of exercise that will give you immediate and same health benefits that other types of exercise offer after passing longer period of time.
If this announcement attract you, maybe it’s time to try high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
When you hear “high intensity,” you might imagine something difficult and being for hardcore athletes but it is far gentler than many people think. HIIT can be done anywhere and without equipment also, so you can get started it today.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become popular as a quick and effective exercise that provides many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise.
Recently, fitness professionals voted HIIT one of the top fitness trends for 2020 in a survey by the American College of Sports Medicine.
In this article, we look at what HIIT is, its potential benefits, and how to get started with HIIT workouts.
Table of Contents
What Is High-Intensity Interval Training?
HIIT is any form of exercise that consists of a short burst of intense exercise alternated with a period of rest or low intensity exercise.
Exercise you choose as part of your HIIT program may vary & it can be biking, running, spinning, and bodyweight exercises etc.
For example, a HIIT workout using a stationary exercise bike could consist of 30 seconds of cycling as fast as possible against high resistance, followed by several minutes of slow, easy cycling with low resistance.
This would be considered one “round” or “repetition” of HIIT, and you would typically complete 4 to 6 repetitions in one workout.
The length of time you spend exercising and recovering can vary depending on the activity you choose and how intensely you are exercising. You can either stop exercising in the rest periods or switch to gentle exercise, such as walking or slow cycling before repeating the sequence.
Typically, an entire HIIT workout will range from 10 to 30 minutes in duration. Regardless of how brief the workout, it will have health benefits comparable to twice the amount of moderate-intensity exercise, according to the National Library of Medicine .
Because of its brief duration, it can be a very practical and effective option for persons who find it difficult to commit to longer sessions.
Benefits Of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT provide not only the benefits of longer-duration exercise in a much shorter amount of time — it may also provide some unique health benefits, including:
1. Reducing Body Fat
HIIT can lower the fat of the body more than steady-state cardio types of exercise, such as jogging.
A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training such as running with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) were performed in 2019. According to the study, both exercise can reduce body fat percentage (%). But, HIIT provided 28.5% greater reductions in total absolute fat mass (kg) than moderate-intensity continuous training.
Another study published in National Library of Medicine found that people performing HIIT three times per week for 20 minutes per session lost 4.4 pounds, or 2 kgs, of body fat in 12 weeks without any dietary changes.
Additionally, HIIT exercise had a significant 17% reduction in visceral fat (disease-promoting fat) after 12 weeks, whereas waist circumference was significantly decreased by week six.
Several other studies also show that HIIT can reduces body fat.
However, HIIT is most suited to fat loss in overweight or obese persons. Twelve weeks of HIIT exercise resulted in significant reductions in total, abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat and significant increases in fat free mass and aerobic power.
2. Burn a Lot of Calories
Energy expenditure was significantly higher in HIIT exercise due to acute changes in heart rate (HR), blood lactate concentration (BLa), oxygen uptake (VO2).
One study compared the calories burned during 30 minutes each of HIIT, weight training, running and biking.
In this study, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session consisted of repeating intervals of 20 seconds at maximum effort followed by 40 seconds of rest.
The researchers found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories than the other forms of exercise.
This means that the participants were actually only exercising for 1/3 of the time that the running and biking groups were.
This study suggest that individuals can burn more calories performing an HIIT session than spending the same amount of time performing a steady-state exercise session.
3. Improve Oxygen Consumption
The ability of your muscles to use oxygen is referred to as oxygen consumption. Endurance training is commonly used to improve oxygen consumption. However, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can achieve the same results in a shorter amount of time.
A study demonstrated that five weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) performed four days per week for 20 minutes each session increased oxygen consumption by 9%.
This was practically the same as in the other group in the study, which continually cycled for 40 minutes a day, four days a week.
Another study revealed that 8 weeks of stationary cycling with traditional workout or HIIT boosted the oxygen intake by approximately 25%.
Additional studies also elicit that High intensity intervals training (HIIT) can improve oxygen consumption.
4. Increase Metabolic Rate
Several studies have shown that HIIT exercise has an exceptional potential to boost your metabolic rate for hours after you workout. Due to the intensity of HIIT workout, calories being burned even after you have finished exercising.
HIIT stimulates the production of your human growth hormone (HGH). It goes up by 450% during the 24 hours after your workout.
HGH not only increases the calorie burn, but also slows down the aging process – one of the hidden benefit of HIIT exercise.
Another study discovered that just two minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in the form of sprints improved metabolism by the same amount as 30 minutes of jogging did over a 24-hour period.
A healthy metabolic system can rid toxins from your body more efficiently.
5. Reduce Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
A large amount of research indicates high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, particularly in overweight or obese persons with high blood pressure.
A 2017 study published in Experimental Gerontology followed 39 men aged between 56 and 67 who completed an HIIT workout five days a week for six weeks. The group had “clinically relevant improvements in blood pressure” at the end of the study, with an average reduction of roughly 5.5 mm/HG.
In addition, a study published in the European Journal for Applied Physiology in 2017 also revealed that blood pressure was reduced more directly in HIIT exercise than a steady-state cardio exercise.
According to some studies, HIIT may even lower blood pressure more than the commonly suggested moderate-intensity exercise.
However, it appears that high-intensity exercise does not normally reduce blood pressure in normal-weight persons with normal blood pressure.
6. Reduce Blood Sugar
High intensity intervals training (HIIT) can be particularly effective for diabetic patient who need to reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance. HIIT training can also help to control blood sugars in healthy people.
A 2015 study published in the Public Library of Science journal indicated that persons with type 2 diabetes had greater control over their insulin levels and better pancreas function after 8 weeks of HIIT.
In addition, a 2015 scientific review published in Obesity Reviews looked at studies where participants did HIIT regimens for less than two weeks. It was discovered that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) helps both healthy and diabetes patient for better maintain their blood sugar levels than continuous-state workouts.
7. Builds Many Muscle Groups
The majority of HIIT workouts involve a variety of diverse motions. This allows you to develop several muscle groups during the same exercise. For example, you may do HIIT training with squats, push-ups, and burpees-all of which target different muscles.
The intensity also helps to grow your muscles and improve your ability to work out continuously. This kind of workout increases muscle durability because the muscles do not get much rest.
A 2017 study published in Endocrine Connections found that a six-week HIIT program improved muscle power in men, measured by peak power output (PPO). The average male absolute PPO before the HIIT program was 799 watts, and after the workout it was 865 watts, an increase of around 8%.
In addition, a study published in 2017 in Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome showed that a 12 minute HIIT training affected the muscles more than a 40-minute aerobic workout for overweight female teens. The detection was done by monitoring irisin levels, a muscle-released hormone in response to exercise.
8. Improve Mental Health
Although all exercise may benefit mental health, HIIT training may be especially helpful.
The writers of a review for 2019 suggests that HIIT can offer a range of benefits, including lowering the severity of depression, to persons with mental diseases.
A 2015 study investigated the effects of HIIT training on persons suffering from chronic schizophrenia. The research revealed that many persons with psychiatric problems lack motivation to exercise and believe that it takes too much time.
Short HIIT training could assist overcome motivational challenges and find time to exercise. The study recorded the effects of an 8 week program of HIIT workouts in people from a psychiatric day care unit.
The program consisted of three workouts a week, each of which was 15 minutes long with 5 minutes warming up and cooling down either side.
Of the 20 participants, 18 completed the program. The results showed the following mental and physical improvements:
- decreased body mass index (BMI)
- lower resting heart rate
- lower pulse pressure
- decreased body weight
- improved mental health scores, including reduced levels of depression and social avoidance
How to Get Started With HIIT
There are various ways to include high-intensity intervals to your fitness program, so getting started isn’t hard.
You just choose your favorite form of exercise for HIIT program. It can be cycling, sprinting, using a skipping rope or an exercise equipment.
You can also perform HIIT workouts utilizing only your own body weight, such as:
- jumping jacks
A simple example of HIIT workout on a exercise bike is as follows:
- 5-minute warmup
- Start HIIT Exercise as follows:
- intense exercise (pedal as hard and fast as possible) for 15 seconds
- Take rest or do gentle exercise (pedal at a slow, easy pace) for 10 seconds
- Repeat this pattern for 10 to 25 minutes
- 5-minute stretching session to cool down
You can fix your own HIIT program as per your own preferences. HIIT program can be fixed easily by experimenting with different durations of exercise and recovery, or how long you are performing intense exercise and how long you are recovering.
Most of the people are occupied with their family, work and other activities & going to the gym for two hours is almost impossible.
One of excellent advantages of HIIT exercise is that it does not requires equipment or gym membership. So, people can do it anywhere including at home or at a park at any time that suits them.
In a shorter period of time, HIIT offers many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise.
These benefits include lower body fat, heart rate and blood pressure. HIIT may also help to reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Therefore, consider trying high-intensity interval training (HIIT) if you have a busy schedule but yet want to be active.