You might hear a lot about the term High-Intensity Interval Training or ‘HIIT’ these days from various celebrities and fitness enthusiasts. Its growing popularity and acceptance is due to the results it delivers in a short span of time. Let’s be honest, when we take up a fitness regime, all we really care about is how fast we can see the changes to our body. While there are no shortcuts to attaining a fit body, we can still choose to train smart and perform exercises that can give us faster results. Here we look to demystify the concept of HIIT and understand why it is considered one of the best ways to get fit.
How HIIT is Performed:
Simply put, HIIT or interval training means alternating periods of high-intensity workouts with low-intensity efforts. For example – a 15-20 second sprint followed by a similarly timed jog or rest period, repeated for about 15 or 20 minutes. Similarly, you can alternate periods of short and intense exercises such as jumping rope, lunges etc. with less intense rest periods.
Benefits of HIIT:
1. Smart Way to Lose Fat
It’s the smartest way to lose fat is because it doesn’t need you to spend hours running, cycling or hiking and you can go on to burn more calories and fat as compared to regular exercises performed for a longer duration. Also, the energy requirement for the body is met from burning or using fat cells as an energy source and not the muscles. As it can happen with most of us, when we do longer sessions of cardiovascular activities, the body can be tricked into using muscle as a source of energy and not the fat. This loss of muscle-mass makes losing weight even tougher for an individual. Whereas, given how HIIT is performed, the body is compelled to use fat as the source of energy to meet the sudden burst of oxygen demanded by the body.
2. Keeps the Body in Fat-burning Mode for a Longer Period of Time
The magic of HIIT is that it keeps the body burning fat even after we leave the gym. In fact, some researchers also support the notion of interval training burning more calories than the endurance efforts. Exrx.net conducted a program where the people were divided into 2 groups – one performing a HIIT workout where they alternated sprints with a lower intensity of running. The other group performed endurance running where they ran at a slow pace but for a longer distance. At the end of the study, the HIIT group lost three times the amount of fat than the endurance group.
3. Can Be Performed Even on a Busy Day
Today, when everyone is chasing a deadline and shuffling between work and home, the easiest thing to neglect is your regular dose of exercise. What’s good with HIIT is that doing it for even 15 minutes a day can help you burn a significant amount of calories. It would be a lie if someone said they can’t even take out 15 minutes from their routine to do this.
4. It’s Great for Both Increasing Strength and Endurance
For some, looking like a skinny endurance athlete or a pumped up bodybuilder isn’t the goal; it’s something in-between. In this case, HIIT is the best bet. It will not only make you lose fat but also develop lean body muscles. This reason might explain why elite ultra-runners have lean muscle mass as compared to short distance runners who are more muscular. During long distance runs, some of our muscle is metabolized for energy but on the other hand, interval running allows us to burn a significant number of calories (from fat) without sacrificing muscle mass.
5. Can Be Performed Both at the Gym or Outdoors
Since HIIT is about getting your heart rate up, you can do it anywhere as long as you follow an intense routine followed by rest periods. If you’re jumping rope or running, you can choose to perform them at a gym near you or outdoors; the choice is yours.
6. Increases the Body’s Metabolism
We tend to envy those people who eat so much more than us but still look so lean. It’s thanks to their speedy metabolism rate that they are able to burn almost everything that they eat before it gets converted into fat. After performing an HIIT session, our body continues to remain in fat burning mode and this gives our metabolism rate a much-needed boost.
The focus on preventive healthcare is on the rise today. That makes it all the more important to take our bodies seriously and to stay healthy and fit.