What is HIIT?

Often referred to as HIIT, High-Intensity Interval Training is a training methodology that involves short bouts of intense physical exercise followed by short periods of recovery. By programming this type of methodology into a circuit, you’ve got yourself a HIIT workout! 

Typically shorter in duration compared to the standard idea of how long a workout should last, HIIT usually spans 8-30 minutes. 

You may wonder, then, how such a short bout of exercise can be so effective and beneficial to one’s health and fitness…On the contrary, HIIT has been studied in-depth and has shown extremely promising results relating to comorbidity rates, heart health, disease risk, cardiovascular health, muscle strength, fitness capacity, and more.

Before diving into the benefits of HIIT, it’s important to first gain an understanding of how it works.

How HIIT Works

While more research certainly needs to be done on the subject, high-intensity interval training has been shown to trigger several positive physiological adaptations. It’s worth noting that these positive adaptions are seen in both healthy and clinical cases, making it a great option for the general population…

The following adaptions triggered by HIIT include but are certainly not limited to reduced blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, boosted metabolism, increased nitric oxide production improved blood flow, improved oxygen consumption, and increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness capacity.

The Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training has become an extremely popular training methodology in recent years, partly because it’s efficient, partly due to its low barrier to entry, and partly due to its vast health benefits. 

HIIT not only takes half the time of a typical workout but also produces greater results! Of course, the results depend greatly on consistency, intensity, exertion and effort, choice of exercise, and otherwise, however, the fact remains true, generally speaking.

The Following are the Most Common Benefits of HIIT:

  • Burns More Calories in Less Time

  • Aids in Fat Loss & Weight Loss

  • Builds Muscle, Increases Strength

  • Improves Cardiovascular Health

  • Shown to Improve Oxygen Uptake

  • Increases Longevity

  • Boosts Metabolism

  • Reduces Health Biomarkers (i.e. Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, HR, etc.)

  • Low Barrier to Entry (Effective for Beginners and Elite Athletes Alike…)

While some of the above benefits are also prevalent in other types of exercise, HIIT, in particular, has shown to maximise such benefits in comparison.

Another benefit that’s often not talked about? enjoyment! Because of its anecdotal nature, enjoyment is often ignored to be a benefit, however, it should be perceived as one of, if not the most important reasons to engage in such an activity.

HIIT is one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise, especially in comparison to MICT, otherwise known as Medium-Intensity Continuous Training. The reason this is important is that enjoyment produces consistency and consistency produces long-lasting results. While all types of exercise offer benefits, not all types of exercise are enjoyable. After all, who’s going to participate if they don’t enjoy it?!

How to Get Started with HIIT

As mentioned, HIIT is an exercise methodology that involves short bursts of exercise with short durations of rest. You might ask, however, what exercises do you perform? With HIIT, the choice is yours!

As a beginner, you may want to begin with simple bodyweight exercises performed and adapted to your current capacity and then executed in succession according to the programmed workout. Examples of bodyweight exercises include pushups, air squats, lunges, sit-ups, running, biking, and jumping jacks.

As an intermediate, you’re more than encouraged to increase the level of difficulty by adding weight-barring exercises to the program. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include farmer’s carry, dumbbell chest press, bicep curls, goblet squats, and kettlebell swings.

As an elite athlete, HIIT workouts can be a great supplement to your primary training program to further improve fitness capacity. Examples of elite-level exercises include deadlifts, box jumps, burpees, clean & jerks, snatches, pull-ups/muscle-ups, and sprints.

With that said, to get started with HIIT, you must first choose the activities you’ll be including in the workout; variation is a great feature of HIIT, so get creative while also remaining safe!

Next, experiment with durations, repetitions, and rest-times; HIIT is meant to be challenging whilst still allowing for a safe exercise environment. As a general tip, high-intensity efforts tend to be programmed in 20-30 second increments, with rest-to-effort being a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.

Finally, all that’s left to do is to work hard and enjoy! 

Is High-Intensity Interval Training for YOU?

HIIT is an extremely efficient and effective way to exercise, making it appropriate for all fitness levels, whether you’re a beginner or elite athlete. HIIT also offers several benefits that aid in a variety of health and fitness goals, from fat burning and weight loss to endurance, muscle building, and strength gains.

While HIIT is universally safe if programmed and adapted for the participant’s health and fitness status, there are small populations that HIIT is unsuitable for. Some of these populations include pregnant women and individuals with heart conditions.

To summarise, HIIT is an incredible modality of exercise no matter who you are (there are exceptions, as discussed). With endless benefits, there’s no reason not to at least try it on for size. Who knows, it just might become your new favourite way to exercise!

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