We all get satisfied after an intense workout session. For many, working up a good sweat and feeling the rush of endorphins at the end of every run makes it worth the intense effort.
High intense workouts are associated with lifting heavy weights with maximum effort or running the fastest you possibly can. But that is no longer the norm with the introduction of HIIT workouts in the fitness industry over the past two decades.
What is HIIT?
It stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. An intense bout of exercise preceded and followed by a slower variant of the same or separate exercise. Though initially confusing, here is something that will help you understand the concept of HIIT better, and possibly implement it into your workouts.
Pick your average run that lasts anywhere from 1-3km. During this run, you will run at a faster pace for 100m after every 400m. This is a high-intensity interval. But you might wonder what is the use since you are covering the same distance, only faster.
That is the exact aim for HIIT workouts, they minimize time and burn calories in a short intense workout that will leave you huffing. HIIT workouts are essential for those who wish to engage in cardio without losing muscle and decreasing body fat.
According to a research study, sprint interval training which consists of sprinting at higher intensities showed better fat loss results than the traditional endurance activities of walking and jogging.
How do you include HIIT in your workout routines?
HIIT is fairly easy to implement in all aspects of your cardiovascular workouts. If you are rowing, running, cycling or swimming then include a set amount of time and distance that is no longer than 1/10th of the actual workout. HIIT workouts make the cardiovascular system work harder and thus must be done for shorter interval periods followed by a significant amount of lower intensity activity for the systems to return to normal aerobic exercise levels.
The lockdown saw most outdoor activities cancelled which is where HIIT comes in. It is not necessary to include running, swimming or cycling as part of your routine. It can be done at home using a jump rope for speed intervals and a casual slow pace. For those who wish to do an HIIT workout without equipment, bodyweight cardio exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees, high knees or jogging in place can also be performed.
Structuring a proper workout that includes a warm-up and cooldown along with an intense bout of such total body exercises can result in faster weight loss, lean and toned muscle. HIIT leads to better metabolism and all the traditional benefits that cardiovascular activity offers.
Who is it for?
Since HIIT involves intense bouts of exercise, it is advised that people suffering from blood pressure or cardiac issues should avoid or consult a medical professional before incorporating HIIT or intense cardio as part of their workout routine. Most people who are well versed with running, swimming or cycling for long periods or for sprint intervals can include HIIT for their workout session. It is recommended that a HIIT workout should last only for 20 to 40 minutes.
HIIT workouts can help overweight and obese people lose body fat faster according to a research study. This leads to weight loss and improved VO2Max, better cardiovascular health, toned and lean muscles and reduced chances of getting affected by heart diseases and issues. HIIT workouts can be performed by most healthy individuals as they are easy to fit in time limits and provide many exercise-related benefits for people of all ages.
So the next time you feel short of time to get a good cardio workout, HIIT is your best friend. Those intense, agonizing bouts may not be the most pleasant but just like the many forms of fitness available today, the hard work always pays off.
- Viana RB, Naves JPA, Coswig VS, et al interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:655-664.
- Su L, Fu J, Sun S, Zhao G, Cheng W, Dou C, et al. (2019) Effects of HIIT and MICT on cardiovascular risk factors in adults with overweight and/or obesity: A meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0210644.
- Lanzi, S., Codecasa, F., Cornacchia, M., Maestrini, S., Capodaglio, P., Brunani, A., . . . Malatesta, D. (2015). Short-term HIIT and Fatmax training increase aerobic and metabolic fitness in men with class II and III obesity. Obesity, 23(10), 1987-1994.