The 4 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The term High-Intensity Interval Training may sound unfamiliar to you, but the health benefits of this kind of exercise are very familiar to you.
While most people know that diet and exercise (beginners) play a very important role in our overall health, it is estimated that around 30% of people worldwide are not exercising enough. The main reason is the lack of time, as our daily lives are very demanding leaving us a limited free time. If you belong to this category, maybe it’s time for you to try this workout (HIIT).
HIIT term is used for exercises that include brief periods of intense exercise alternating with periods of recovery. One of the greatest advantages of HIIT is that you can get the maximum benefits from exercise for your health in a minimum time. This article explains what HIIT is and analyses the top 4 benefits for your health.
What is the HIIT?
HIIT includes brief bursts of intense exercise that alternate with low-intensity recovery periods. Perhaps it is the most effective form of exercise.
Typically, a HIIT workout lasts from 10 to 30 minutes.
Despite how short this workout is, it can bring you twice the health benefits of any other type of exercise. The exercises of a HIIT session vary depending on the fitness program, but may also include sprinting, cycling, rope or other body weight exercises.
For instance, a HIIT workout using a stationary bike may consist of high resistance cycling, followed by several minutes of slow cycling at low resistance.
Exercise and recovery time varies depending on the activity and the intensity you choose. Regardless of the type of exercise, a High-Intensity Interval Training session should include brief periods of intense exercise that will accelerate your heart rate.
HIIT does not only provide the benefits of exercise in a much shorter time, but also some other unique benefits for the overall health.
Let’s see these benefits in more detail:
- You burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
It has been proven that with HIIT you can burn calories quickly. One study calculated the calories which are burned during 30 minutes of HIIT exercise compared to those burned in other types of exercise, such as weight training, running (lifestyle) and cycling. The researchers found that HIIT burned 25-30% more calories than other kind of exercise.
In this study, a HIIT round consisted of 20 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 40 seconds of rest. This means that the participants were in fact exercising only for one-third of the duration of those who were running or doing cycling.
Although, in this study, each training session had duration 30 minutes, it is common for HIIT workouts to have a much shorter duration than the usual training sessions. This happens because with HIIT you burn about the same amount of calories in less time.
- HIIT contributes to fat loss
Studies have shown that HIIT can help you lose fat. A study showed that people who do HIIT three times a week for 20 minutes per session, lose 2 kilos of body fat in 12 weeks, without changes in their diet.
Many other studies also show that HIIT significantly reduces body fat, despite its low duration.
However, like other kinds of exercise, HIIT may be more effective in terms of fat loss, for those who are overweight or obese.
- HIIT is suitable for muscle hypertrophy
In addition to fat loss, HIIT could also increase muscle mass in some trainees. However, muscle mass is gained mainly in the most used muscles, such as the torso and the legs.
Beginners should avoid HIIT whereas advanced trainees aiming at muscle hypertrophy will be surprised with the result!
While weight training continues to be the most appropriate method for increasing muscle mass, HIIT could contribute in growing muscle.
- High-Intensity Interval Training improves oxygen intake
Cardio exercise improves oxygen consumption. Traditionally, this is achieved in long-duration training sessions at a steady pace. However, it appears that HIIT can have the same benefits in a shorter time.
A research shows that 20 minutes HIIT workouts, 4 days a week in 5 weeks improved oxygen consumption by 9%.
Another research shows that eight weeks of exercise on a stationary bike, either with the usual steady pace of an aerobic exercise, or the HIIT method, increased oxygen consumption by about 25%.
Once again, the total exercise time was different between the groups: 120 minutes per week for traditional exercise vs. only 60 minutes per week of HIIT.
Additional studies show that HIIT can improve oxygen intake.
High-Intensity Interval Training is a very effective exercise and can help you burn more calories than you would with other types of exercise. Some of the burned calories come from a more effective metabolism, lasting for hours, even after exercise.
Overall, HIIT offers the same health benefits as other types of exercise, in less time.
These benefits include body fat reduce, improvement of heart rate and blood pressure. HIIT can also help reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
So if you do not have a lot of time at your disposal and you want to exercise, you should consider HIIT!