If you’re into working out, you’ve probably heard of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a time efficient training method designed to torch fat. HIIT involves intense bursts of physical activity, followed by short periods of recovery. This type of training elicits a high level of physiological stress on the body in order to promote muscle adaptation and, of course, burn fat.
HIIT sessions typically range from twenty to thirty minutes, however the exercise intervals can last anywhere from ten seconds to four minutes. These intervals engage the anaerobic energy system, which is limited in duration, providing energy from stored sources within the muscle cells for short bursts of intense exercise. The active recovery periods are relatively shorter to allow the body to partially recover before the next burst of intense activity. These are essential for the body to replenish energy stores and prepare for the next interval. Let’s dive into the benefits.
The main appeal of HIIT for many is its time efficiency. A lack of time is one of the most common barriers to exercising, however HIIT offers the same benefits as other forms of exercise in a much shorter space of time. A study published in the Journal of Physiology compared the effects of 6 weeks of sprint interval training against traditional endurance training.
The results showed HIIT to produce similar improvements in skeletal muscle adaptations and performance measures as traditional endurance training, but with significantly less time commitment. What's more, research has shown HIIT to burn the same number of, if not more, calories as longer forms of exercise. One study found HIIT to burn 25% to 30% more calories than weight training, running or biking.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
A study into physiological adaptations to low volume and HIIT training, found HIIT led to greater improvements in VO2 max, the maximum rate of oxygen consumption attainable during exercise, than moderate-intensity continuous training. The study also found HIIT to produce greater improvements in endothelial function. The endothelium is the membrane lining the inside of the heart and blood vessels. When the endothelium is functioning, it helps to regulate blood clotting and controls the volume of substances that pass from the blood into the tissues.
You Can Do It Anywhere
HIIT can be performed anywhere because you don’t have to use equipment. Whilst weighted HIIT workouts are popular, bodyweight exercises can be just as effective. Cardiovascular exercises such as high knees and jumping jacks are often incorporated to increase the heart rate, alongside plyometric exercises like jump squats, to help build strength, power and agility. An advantage of HIIT is that it’s adaptable! You can modify the duration, intensity and the type of exercise to suit your ability and the space available.
Increased Metabolic Rate and Fat Burn
HIIT has been shown to boost metabolic rate, resulting in an increase in calorie burning even after the workout has ended! This is known as the ‘after burn effect’ or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which plays a role in the metabolic boost. Researchers have also found HIIT to stimulate the production of human growth hormone (HGH), responsible for slowing down the ageing process and increasing caloric burn.Ready to interval train? Smash your session in the L’ACTIF Workout Shorts.