While most people perceive that physical activity is healthy, it’s considered that about 30% of people worldwide don’t get enough.
Unless you have a labor-intensive job, a dedicated fitness routine is likely your best bet for staying active. Unfortunately, several people feel that they don’t have enough time to exercise.
If this sounds like you, maybe you should consider trying high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT is a widespread term for workouts that include short periods of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods.
One of the biggest benefits of HIIT is that you can acquire maximum health benefits by doing short yet repeated workouts.
What is High-Intensity Interval Training?
HIIT includes short bursts of strenuous exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery intervals.Normally, a HIIT workout will vary from 10 to 30 minutes in duration. The actual activity being done varies but can incorporate sprinting, biking, jump rope, or other bodyweight exercises.
For example, a HIIT workout using a stationary bike could consist of 30 seconds of cycling as fast as possible against high resistance, supported by several minutes of slow, light cycling with low resistance.
This would be counted as one “round” or “repetition” of HIIT, and you would typically perform 4 to 6 repetitions in one workout.
The precise amount of time you exercise and recover will alter based on the activity you choose and how intensely you are exercising.
Despite how short the workout is, it can provide health benefits similar to twice as much moderate-intensity workout.
Regardless of how it is performed, high-intensity intervals should include short periods of vigorous exercise that make your heart rate speed up.
Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Whatever your preferred exercises are, odds are pretty good you might have discovered the term high-intensity interval training or HIIT.
While you might not know precisely what HIIT is, you may have an idea in your mind about what it involves. But like many workout etiquettes in the fitness department, there are still some misunderstandings about what HIIT really is and what it can do for your fitness routine.
Here’s what you need to know about this famous type of training.
HIIT can Burn a Lot of Calories in a Short Amount of Time
You can burn calories instantly using HIIT.
One research examined the calories burned during 30 minutes each of HIIT, weight training, running, and biking. The researchers discovered that HIIT burned 25% – 30% more calories than the other types of exercise.
In some research, a HIIT repetition consisting of 20 seconds of maximum effort has the same results as 40 seconds of other kinds of workout.
This indicates that the participants were only exercising for 1/3 of the time that the running and biking groups were.
Although every workout session was 30 minutes long in this research, it is common for HIIT workouts to be much shorter than conventional exercise sessions. This is because HIIT enables you to burn about the same amount of calories, but spend less time exercising.
Your Metabolic Rate is Higher for Hours After Exercise
One of the ways HIIT helps you burn calories comes after you are finished exercising.
Several research have proved HIIT’s impressive ability to improve your metabolic rate for hours after exercise. Some researchers have even observed that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more so than jogging and weight training.
In the same study, HIIT was also found to turn the body’s metabolism toward utilizing fat for energy rather than carbs.
Another study revealed that just two minutes of HIIT in the form of sprints enhanced metabolism over 24 hours as much as 30 minutes of running.
It Can Surely Help You Lose Fat
Studies have proved that HIIT can help you drop more fat.
One review examined 13 tests and 424 overweight and obese adults. Interestingly, it discovered that both HIIT and traditional moderate-intensity workouts can diminish body fat and waist circumference.
Additionally, one study discovered that people doing HIIT three times a week for 20 minutes for each session had dropped 4.4 pounds of body fat in 12 weeks. And there are no dietary modifications involved whatsoever.
Perhaps more significant was the 17% decline in visceral fat or the disease-promoting fat surrounding your internal organs.
Other studies also show that body fat can be subdued with HIIT, despite the relatively low time commitment. However, like other modes of exercise, HIIT may be most efficient for fat loss in those who are overweight or obese.
You “Might” Grow Muscle Using HIIT
In addition to supporting fat loss, HIIT could help develop muscle mass in certain individuals. However, the increase in muscle mass is essential in the muscles being used the most, which are often the trunk and legs.
Additionally, it’s necessary to note that increases in muscle mass are more likely to happen in less active individuals. Some analysis in active individuals has failed to present higher muscle mass after HIIT programs.
Weight training remains to be the “gold standard” form of workout to develop muscle mass, although we are not discounting what HIIT can do.
HIIT can Develop Oxygen Consumption
Oxygen consumption applies to your muscles’ ability to use oxygen, which you can get through endurance training.
Traditionally, this consists of continued sessions of constant running or cycling at a steady rate. However, it seems that HIIT can provide the same benefits in a shorter amount of time.
One study discovered that five weeks of HIIT workouts done four days per week for 20 minutes each session increased oxygen consumption by 9%. This was almost equal to the increase in oxygen consumption in the other group in the study who cycled continuously for 40 minutes per day, four days per week.
Another study revealed that eight weeks of exercising on the stationary bike using common exercise or HIIT enhanced oxygen consumption by about 25%.
Once again, the entire time exercising was much complex between groups: 120 minutes per week for the regular exercise versus only 60 minutes per week of HIIT.
It can Reduce Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
HIIT may have significant health benefits, as well.
A large amount of research shows that it can decrease heart rate and blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals. These are people who frequently have high blood pressure.
One study discovered that eight weeks of HIIT on a stationary bike lowered blood pressure as much as traditional constant endurance training in adults with high blood pressure.
In some studies, the endurance training group exercised four days a week for 30 minutes per day, but the HIIT group only exercised three times a week for 20 minutes each day.
Some researchers have observed that HIIT may even lessen blood pressure more than the frequently prescribed moderate-intensity exercise. However, it seems that high-intensity exercise does not typically alter blood pressure in normal-weight individuals with normal blood pressure.
Decrease in Blood Sugar
Blood sugar can be lowered by HIIT lasting less than 12 weeks.
A report of 50 different studies found that not only does HIIT decrease blood sugar, but it also develops insulin resistance more than traditional continuous exercise.
Based on some information, high-intensity exercise may be particularly helpful for those at risk for type 2 diabetes. Some experiments, particularly in individuals with type 2 diabetes, have confirmed the effectiveness of HIIT for improving blood sugar.
However, research in healthy individuals shows that HIIT may be able to develop insulin resistance even more than traditional continuous exercise.
How to Get Started With HIIT
There are many approaches to add high-intensity intervals to your exercise routine, so it isn’t difficult to get started.
To start, you just need to choose your activity (running, biking, jumping, etc.). Then, you can explore various durations of exercise and recovery or how long you are doing intense exercise and how long you are recuperating.
Here are some simple examples of HIIT workouts:
- Pedal as hard and fast as possible for 30 seconds using a stationary bike.
- Then instantly followed by an easy pace slow pedal for two to four minutes. Repeat this routine for 15 to 30 minutes.
- After jogging to warm up, perform a sprint as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Then, walk or do a slow jog for one to two minutes. Repeat this routine for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Do squat jumps as fast as possible for 30 to 90 seconds. Then, stand or start walking for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat this routine for 10 to 20 minutes.
While these examples can get you lighted, you should adjust your routine based on your preferences.
HIIT Workouts Routine That You can Do at Home
Go through the specific exercises below in order. Perform the designated reps and then continue to the next move, taking rest as directed. Once you’ve finished all these HIIT exercises, rest for one minute, then repeat the whole circuit one more time.
Begin standing at the back of the mat with your feet under the hips and arms at the sides.
Bend over and lay your palms on the floor then walk with your hands out to a high plank position. That way, your shoulders are directly over your wrists.
Pause, then reverse the action to return to the starting position. That’s one rep, then complete 9 more.
Start by standing with your feet under hips and hands at your sides. Bend your left leg and raise your heel to glute, then quickly return it to the starting position and repeat the same process on the right side. You’ve just completed one rep then added 9 more.
Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides. Bring your arms out wide. Then lift your left knee toward your chest while wrapping your arms around your shin.
Hug your leg towards the body, then place it down and re-extend your arms wide. Now, lift your right knee and repeat. That’s already one rep then add 9 more.
Alternating Low Lunge With Rotation
Start from a high plank, bend your left knee and bring your foot forward to rest outside of your left hand. Lift your left arm into the air and twist your torso toward your left leg.
Replace your hand on the floor and step back to the high plank, then repeat the process on the right side. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start in a high plank pose. Keep your hips level while driving your right knee toward your chest. Return to a plank and quickly repeat with your left knee. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start by standing in the center of the mat with your feet together and arms at your sides. Then, simultaneously raise your arms out and overhead while jumping your feet out past your shoulders. Without pausing, instantly reverse the movement. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Begin this workout in a forearm plank position. Jump your feet out past your shoulders to a wide “V” shape, and then jump them back in again. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Side Forearm Plank To Forearm Plank
Start in a side forearm plank position, with your right forearm on the floor, parallel to the top of the mat and elbow under your shoulder. Extend your left arm in the air at shoulder height, with your feet staggered and flexed.
Rotate your body forward toward the mat and place your left forearm down on the floor behind and parallel to your right coming into a forearm plank. Drop your heels to the left side and rotate your body toward the right side coming into a left side forearm plank position.
Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward, arms at sides. Bend your knees, stick your butt back, and lower down into a squat, bringing your hands together in front of the chest. Then explosively jump up as high as possible off the floor, swinging your arms straight behind your body for momentum.
Land softly on the balls with your feet and immediately lower into the next squat. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start standing with your feet together and arms at your sides.
Bend your knees to crouch down, bringing your fingers to hover above your toes. Then jump up into the air bringing your legs straight and wide outside of your shoulders and arms out overhead, forming an “X.”.
Gently land back into a crouch. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start by facing sideways at the back of the mat with your feet together. Right heel high, knees bent, torso tilted slightly forward, right arm extended straight behind your body, and left arm bent across your chest.
Lift your right foot and take a wide step to the right, then bring your left foot to meet it, balanced on the ball of the foot, switching your arm positions. Reverse the movement to go back to start.
Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start in a lunge position with your right leg forward and left-back, both bent at 90 degrees. Right arm straight at your side and left arm bent, hand in line with your chin.
Jump up quickly off the floor, switching your legs in midair to land in a lunge with your left foot forward. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start standing with your feet under your hips and arms at your sides. Bring your left knee up to the chest, return your foot to the floor. Repeat with the right knee, switching feet as fast as possible and pumping arms similar to running movement. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms bent, hands in front of your chest. Bend over to place your hands on the floor in front of your toes, then jump your feet back into a high plank position, with your shoulders stacked over wrists. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
To start, stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides at the back of the mat. Hop up off the floor, land gently, then jump your body forward into a plank position, quickly lowering your stomach to the mat. Push back up and repeat. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
Mountain Climber Lunges
Start in a low lunge position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and left foot next to your left hand. Without letting your hands leave the floor, switch leg positions by jumping your left leg back and right leg forward. Do this until you make ten reps in total.
What are the Safety Issues to Keep in Mind?
Speaking of exercise selection, one mistake experts see a lot is people trying to go all-out on movements when they don’t have the form down.
If you’re going all-out and your form is wrong, you can place a lot of pressure on specific muscles and joints, which can lead to injury.
The more reliable movements are going to be more bodyweight movements. When you add weight, the technique is really essential. That’s why it’s necessary to make sure you can perform an exercise with proper form at an easy pace before kicking it up to high intensity.
A proper warm-up is also critical, whether you’ll be performing cardio-based HIIT or strength-based HIIT. The more strenuous the workout, the more relevant the warm-up is. It’s similar to prepping your nervous system as well. Moreover, this should incorporate mobility movements, like hip-opening stretches and thoracic spine rotations, as well as slower-tempo reps of the exercise you plan to do for HIIT.
If your body is not ready for that work, the result could be an injury, or your execution can suffer.
Scheduling a long HIIT session is also a no-no. When you’re going all-out, you’re not going to be able to maintain that for a 45-minute class.
Instead, a real HIIT workout would seem something like this: Eight all-out, 20-second sprints, with one minute of rest in between. That means your HIIT protocol (not including warm-up and cool-down) would be just almost 10 minutes.
This leads us to our last mistake: There’s nothing that says you are required to do traditional HIIT if you want to achieve some hard-working interval training. In fact, the modified HIIT we frequently see in classes, and what other experts use for some of their group sessions, is presumably going to be more accessible and the better alternative for a general workout routine.
Whether you’re performing true HIIT or modified interval training, don’t underestimate the value of recovery. Prioritizing regular, intense workouts while skipping rest days can not only lead to declining performance returns with your fitness, but can also leave you prone to injury, fatigue, or burnout.
Limit your HIIT to one or two workouts a week, and make sure that you’re balancing them with easy workouts. You should also dedicate at least one day per week for full-body recovery.
High-intensity interval training is a very effective way to exercise. It may also help you burn more calories than you would with other modes of exercise.
Some of the calories burned from high-intensity intervals happen from a higher metabolism, which remains for hours after exercise.
Overall, HIIT also provides many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise in a shorter amount of time. These benefits include lower body fat, heart rate, and blood pressure. HIIT may also support lower blood sugar and enhance insulin sensitivity.
So, if you are short on time but still want to get active, consider trying high-intensity interval training.