Slide into fitness with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for a small waist and a firmer butt.
HIIT stands for “High Intensity Interval Training” and is a training style that involves alternating between short bouts of high-intensity exercise (hence the name) followed by periods of less intense exercise or resting. This on-off cycle is repeated several times in one training session which can last anywhere from between 4 minutes to 30 minutes, or longer depending on your level of fitness.
How HIIT Works
High Intensity Training results in your heart rate shooting up, as well as the production of lactic acid (this is what makes you muscle burn and fatigue). The brief resting periods allow your heart rate to slow and as well as allowing lactic acid levels to fall, so you recover enough to do the next high-intensity work interval.
Why it Works
This pattern of on and off cycles means you’re able to complete more time exercising at high intensity, compared to exercising continuously. For example, if you managed to do eight 30-second sprints, that would make a total sprint time of 4 minutes. That’s much longer than you could ever sprint continuously. This is very important because, higher intensity exercise is thought to elicit greater responses at the cellular and molecular levels, which lead to improved fitness and stamina.
How High is High-Intensity?
A bout of high-intensity exercise should be performed at 80% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) or above. On a scale of Rating Perceived Exertion (RPE 1 – 10) exercises should be performed at RPE 7 or higher.
The Benefits of HIIT
Believe it or not, HIIT is one of those trends that really does live up to the razzmatazz.
HIIT’s unique selling point is it’s brevity. Short and sweet, this workout fits into any schedule. If a lack of time is an issue, HIIT might just be the solution. While cardio workouts can run close to an hour, HIIT sessions tend to only last about 30 minutes or less.
Fun. Short, Sharp. Easy, Hard
You have to stay focused. The one thing HIIT is not, and that’s monotonous. While most cardio exercises allow you to zone out (thoughts drifting, feeling zen like), HIIT wants you to let it rip, getting you pumped with the adrenalin flowing.
HIIT can help achieve similar weight loss as moderate-intensity exercise but takes about half the time to burn the same number of calories. Research shows that HIIT improves the body’s ability to burn fat, increases metabolism post-workout so you continue to burn more calories (the “afterburn effect”), decreases appetite, lowers insulin resistance, and improves blood sugar control. Wow!
HIIT can increase muscle mass while reducing body fat, whereas regular endurance-based exercise doesn’t build muscle. HIIT targets the type of muscle fibres (called fast-twitch) that can lead to increases in muscle mass, strength, and power – much like lifting weights would do (but not quite as much).
The go-to-method for increasing cardiovascular fitness has always been endurance training. Improvements in endurance can be quite staggering. In one study, participants doubled the amount of time they could exercise continuously at high-intensity after just two weeks and six HIIT training sessions.
Better Cardiovascular Health
HIIT improves heart structure and function, as well as the health of blood vessels. It reduces blood pressure, resting heart rate, and blood cholesterol. Research suggests that HIIT may be better than steady-state, moderate-intensity workouts at improving cardiovascular health.