It’s a HIIT! High Intensity Interval Training



Fitness trends come and go, but experts have found a favorite—and you’ll be surprised how good it really is.

What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HITT, is a refreshing cardio workout that specializes in alternating between really intense and take it easy. Start out with 1 minute at a dead sprint, then ease up and walk for 2 minutes. You repeat this interval four or five times and—BAM—you see results pretty darn fast.

Why We Love It

Efficient, fun, and endlessly creative, HIIT is quickly becoming the people’s workout choice. In fact, a recent poll discovered that “The top two fitness trends for 2014 are high-intensity interval training, and body-weight training such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and planks,” shared USA Today writer Nanci Hellmich.

Ideal for people with a busy schedule, HIIT is fast and effective—which could be why it’s catching fire. You can sneak a workout in during your lunch break or between errands on the weekend. “Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour,” explained Charlotte Hilton Andersen, in her article on shape.com.

HIIT is also incredibly adaptive. So you like running, great. Cycling. Push-ups. Hiking. Dancing. Sit-ups. Burpees. Dribbling. Pilates. Ladders—Ok, you get the idea. No matter what you feel like doing for the day, you can apply it to HIIT. “This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results,” Andersen added.

Results usually come with a price. What about the HIIT cost? Hellmich quoted Walt Thompson, lead researcher on the trends report and a regents’ professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “We are seeing people going back to basics and using relatively low-cost ways to get in shape.”

How It Works

Quick, adaptable, low cost, and motivating, no wonder HIIT is more popular than even zumba, according to the study. Let’s take a look at another study that backs up the benefits of HIIT. The American College of Sports Medicine released a study in 2011 that broke it down. “Just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training,” shared Andersen.

So, how exactly does HIIT work its wonder? The secret is in the recovery time. Initially, the equation is one part intense to three parts recovery. But as you get fitter, you will boost the ratio to 1:2. “This recovery is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC, which means that there is a substantially large increase of oxygen intake to replenish the oxygen deficiency that you just experienced. This is important because you will actually be burning calories long after the workout is over,” explained John Hartmann on active.com.

Apparently, you don’t reach the EPOC level until you’re in one hour on a treadmill. HIIT gets you there in a fraction of that time.

Stamina is also a big winner when you train with HIIT. Your VO2 max, also described as the maximum volume of oxygen your body is able to absorb, increases. “Meaning that you can last longer during all sorts of exercises. Also, HIIT increases your VO2 max quicker and faster compared to static cardio,” said Hartman.

One 2006 study Andersen referenced showed that “After 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.”

With all these amazing results, one may wonder if HIIT would negatively affect muscle mass. Nobody wants to lose the bulk as they slim down. I mean, that’s what we’re going for—that toned, healthy look. Andersen shared that steady cardio does actually encourage muscle loss; but two types of training don’t. “Weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!”

Another cool aspect is that HIIT “stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout,” added Andersen. HGH helps with two pretty essential things: increased caloric burn and slowing the aging process. No big deal.

Give It a Try

So how do you get started. Well, here is just one quick way to train with HIIT on a stationary bike. This session was taken from Hartman’s article on active.com.

Warm up for 3-5 minutes: I usually have the resistance at a medium level so if its on a 1-20 scale I keep my warm-up and recovery time at around 10-12. When it comes time to do the intense interval, I bump it up to 15-18. Know that I am very fit and have been doing this for years, so if you are starting from ground zero don’t go this intensely unless you want to throw up after your attempt.

30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
40 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)

Give this workout a try or invent your own using whatever activity you love. But whether you are dancing, running, or cartwheeling, if you train with the HIIT ideology, your body and your motivation will benefit.

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