Article written in collaboration with Mary Johnson.
High-intensity interval training (aka HIIT) is a workout style that has become increasingly popular due to its health benefits, efficiency, and effectiveness: here is an in-depth article on the definition of HIIT.
How HIIT works and what exercises it entails
High-intensity interval training pushes your body to its metabolic limits. Essentially you push yourself as hard as possible in a HIIT session to get your heart rate up, and then you move into the low-intensity part of your workout to let your body return to a more normal state before you do it all over again. It is recommended that you only do about 1-2 hours of HIIT per week and to incorporate lower-intensity exercise throughout the week.
There are many different types of exercises that you can do to create a HIIT workout routine.
A few popular activities you will see in many HIIT routines are:
- Bodyweight exercises
Before any HIIT routine, it is important to start with a low-intensity warm-up for a few minutes. Since you will push your body to its max in a HIIT workout, it is essential your body is ready for the transition to high-intensity exercise.
Then do your HIIT workout of choice for 8-30 minutes.
Cool down for 5-10 minutes with a walk.
HIIT is the best and most efficient exercise when it comes to toning up, losing fat and weight loss in general.
Here a few reasons why to do HIIT:
- Increased resting metabolic rate after exercise for up to 24 hours. This means you continue to burn fat even after exercising.
- You can do it anytime, anywhere. You don’t need equipment for a HIIT workout, nor do you need a lot of time. This makes it easier to incorporate into your workouts for the week and into your busy days.
- You primarily lose weight during HIIT rather than gain muscle. Everyone’s fitness goals are different, and the option to do a HIIT workout that focuses on weight loss rather than muscle gain is preferred by some. This also gives you the option to incorporate gentle toning with weights or bodyweight during other exercise days.
- It’s challenging. Many people can fall off the exercise bandwagon when they get bored with their workouts. If you are competitive, you love to mix it up, or you simply love a challenge, HIIT is a great form of exercise to incorporate into your routine.
In addition to the benefits listed above, HIIT also has great benefits for your cardiovascular system. It leads to a healthier heart, reduced heart rate, and lowered blood pressure. According to Martin Gibala, a leading interval training expert based at McMaster University in Canada, “The more aerobically fit you are, the better your heart can pump blood, the longer it takes you to get out of breath, and the farther and faster you’re able to bike or run or swim.” The healthier your heart, the greater your ability to prevent heart disease and other heart-related, and overall health challenges.