High intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT, has recently been making ways in the fitness community. However, this is a form of training that has long been used by serious athletes. With its short periods of intense anaerobic exercise and slightly lower intensity recovery periods, HIIT boasts one major benefit of burning fat faster, but that’s not the only thing it’s good for.
What Exactly Is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training is a term used to describe any workout that alternates between short, intense bursts of activity and brief periods of lower-intensity activity or even complete rest. For example, a very basic routine might include sprinting in place for 1 minute and then walking briskly for 2 minutes. The interval would then be repeated 5 times to comprise a 15-minute, fat-burning workout.
What Are the Benefits?
Although it might sound a little too good to be true, the science doesn’t lie. And plenty of research has been done to support the benefits of this type of fast-paced, fat-burning workout. In fact, HIIT offers these eight proven benefits as well as many more.
1. Greater Calorie Burn
One of the biggest benefits of high intensity interval training is that it helps you burn more calories – during and after your workout. The short, extreme bursts of activity increase the overall calorie burn during your workout, which improves your body composition. However, even beyond that, your body will continue burning calories for roughly two hours after exercise. “As your body works on returning to a homeostatic state after the exercise, you’ll burn more calories after HIIT than you would with continuous exercise,” said Orangetheory Fitness.
2. Better Retention
Most people find HIIT workouts much more enjoyable than longer, lower-intensity steady-state exercise. So not only are you likely to enjoy your workout more, but you’re also more likely to stick with it and keep up the exercise habit with HIIT. There’s just something about actually liking a workout that makes us all more likely to do it.
3. Improved Endurance
One study showed that even one minute of high intensity work in an otherwise not-as-difficult workout can benefit your endurance and overall health. The study considered measures like improved blood pressure and increased counts of mitochondria, which serve to fuel your brain and body. The benefit from HIIT is carried into everyday activities as well as more moderate-intensity activities, such as runs, rides, and other workouts, which is why interval training is such an effective training option for athletes.
4. Increase Oxygen Volume
It may not seem like a single workout could have that much of an impact, but if it’s HIIT, it does. In fact, with just one workout, individuals have been shown to increase oxygen volume capacity, also known as VO2 max. Likewise, with regular interval training, you can reduce your body and fat mass and improve your body’s glycemic control. In just one session, it can even lower blood glucose levels, particularly in diabetic individuals.
5. Reduced Time
Time is at a premium for everyone, so why not make the most of your workout and reduce the amount of time you’re working out by over half? That’s right. Science has shown that these workouts are so effective, that you literally can work out for half the time and get the same or better results. Benefits include increased muscle endurance, reduced aortic stiffness, and increased insulin activity, among others.
6. Greater Variety
HIIT accommodates for a wider variety of workout and exercise options, which can also offer benefits as far as continuing with a regular workout routine. In fact, individuals who incorporate different activities, such as burpees, running, and other activities have been found to achieve the same or similar benefits as individuals who strictly stuck to one type of exercise in their interval workouts.
7. Improved Cardiovascular Performance
HIIT not only strengthens the heart, but it also increases the elasticity of the arteries and veins better than aerobic exercise alone. This type of workout may even be better tolerated by individuals who are at risk or already have coronary artery disease compared to a more moderate-intensity workout.
8. Greater Fat Loss
It goes without saying that interval training increases fat loss; however, the benefits extend beyond just that. This type of workout has also been shown to reduce muscle loss while increasing fat loss. This is especially important as it can be so difficult to lose weight without sacrificing muscle.
These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of high intensity interval training. If you’ve not tried it, then now is the time. Increase your endurance and overall health while spending half the time in the gym. It’s a win-win scenario.