High Intensity Interval training. A very common tool in the health and fitness industry. The general thesis? Burning fat, in half the time.

Personally, I had never done much myself. When I competed, I stuck to LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio. I figured with my uneducated mind, I’m working for longer, so surely I’m burning more calories? However, that was a few years ago, I don’t do much steady state anymore, I prefer getting my heart racing.

This article is going to explain HIIT to the masses, scientific based evidence, and some workouts you can try yourself.

As simple as possible, HIIT is alternating between bouts of anaerobic, high intensity exercise, followed by short periods of rest or active rest. Repeated, for a faster and more efficient workout. (See end of article for examples.)

Does it actually work?

A study by the Journal of Obesity 2008 concluded HIIT can result in reductions in subcutaneous and abdominal body fat. Regular HIIT has been shown to significantly increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, as well as significantly lowering insulin resistance. Further results showed increased in skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation and glycolytic enzyme content.

Translation into English:

Regular HIIT, has shown to increase physical fitness, during both very high intensity and low intensity exercise. Regular HIIT also has many physiological benefits, including a reduction in insulin resistance (insulin is important for transporting glucose in the body). Also, it helps oxidise fatty acids which are also used as fuel for the body.

Studies suggest the main reason for not exercising is time, then the brevity of HIIT should be appealing to the wider population, especially those interested in reducing body fat.

Studies such as this concluded that, the optimal intensity for the perfect amount of time, to reap the greatest rewards, still needs to be established.

Never the less, here are some examples of HIIT you can incorporate into your own regimes.

Example 1.

(used by the journal) 15 seconds of full intensity cycling, followed by 15 seconds of low intensity cycling, for a period of 20 minutes.

Example 2.

Treadmill, once warm, Sprint for 25 seconds. Jump off, rest for 30 seconds. Increase speed by 3kph whilst resting. Jump back on for another 25 second sprint. Repeat process until you cannot sprint for the 30 second duration.

Example 4.

Deadmills, be careful as your gym may shout at you for this one. Same principle as the previous one, but sprint on the treadmill whilst it’s dead. Hold arms out in front against the frame, and push the belt, build up speed for 20 seconds of work. Then rest for 30. Repeat 5 times.

Example 5.

I personally enjoy being in a circuit full of exercises. Whilst it may be slightly less demanding, it’s still tough work. Put together 4 separate explosive exercises. Work on each for 30 seconds, rest for 1 minute.

Is HIIT really for you?

Whilst it is all the rage in the fitness industry at the moment, HIIT may not be for you. I’m in a position where I don’t want to be any leaner than I already am, and want to gain some size, so hit wouldn’t be on my agenda. Ask yourself if you really need to burn the fat? Is it a healthy and viable decision? Whilst LISS and HIIT have their pros and cons, and loosing weight is a big must for some peoples health benefits, it’s not the same story for everyone.

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