High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short) is the fastest way to burn fat and get the lean and ripped look that will make your friends want to know your secret! With HIIT you will give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short active recovery periods. HIIT workouts build cardiovascular fitness while improving strength, building lean muscle, and maximizing calorie burn during and after the workout.
What is HIIT?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines HIIT as “repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times.” The combinations intensity-rest-intensity are endless and can be adapted to any fitness level. Your HIIT workout can be cardio-based or body-based. The former includes biking and running while the latter includes resistance exercises and calisthenics. Interval training has been around for ages. Amateur runners in the 70s and 80s used it to prepare for races. What’s new about the recent upswing in the popularity of HIIT is that it has moved into the gym and become available to almost everyone.
How and why does it work?
Interval based exercise is a powerful tool for improving performance and health. A cycle of running for one minute and walking for two minutes sounds too easy to be effective, but it is. By alternating activity that pushes your heart rate to near capacity with periods of rest, you are able to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time than you would otherwise. And you get your body gradually used to a more intense workout which you can sustain for longer and longer periods of time. Because HIIT builds muscle as well as cardio strength, it increases your overall capacity. The high intensity intervals should get your heart rate to 80% of capacity or higher and the low intensity intervals should work your heart at 40%-50% of capacity.
Is HIIT good for losing weight?
HIIT does burn more calories than a traditional endurance workout during the time you are exercising. It also burns more calories after the workout, but you don’t want to over-emphasize this because there is little impact on metabolism 24 hours after exercise. However, HIIT is a more efficient alternative to continuous moderate intensity exercise because it burns the same amount of fat in a shorter period of time. Too see the results on the scale, be careful that your power workout doesn’t make you think you can eat more later.
What’s in it for me?
A good HIIT workout brings a lot to the table. You achieve more in less time, get the higher afterburn effect, and increase your endurance. You also can expect to improve your heart health, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol profiles. In addition, you are likely to see a reduction in abdominal fat without losing muscle.
We recommend the ACSM HIIT resource titled “ACSM Information on High Intensity Interval Training” for more detailed information on this workout.