HIIT (High-intensity interval training) gained plenty of prominence with the rising trend of fast 30-minute workouts that are guaranteed to burn the fat. The thing is that unlike the fad workouts peddled in lifestyle magazine, HIIT actually delivers on its promises. Here are some facts about HIIT that will give you a better understanding of this training style.
1. HIIT carries a higher injury risk than low-intensity training
This one’s a no-brainer: things done at a higher intensity will have concomitant amount of risk. Within the context of training, this can be due to extreme overuse of your muscles or improper technique at higher loads. However, HIIT mitigates the risk of injury since workouts are typically shorter. Regardless, it’s important that you focus on not sacrificing form for intensity, especially when you’re just starting out.
2. HIIT ramps up metabolism and insulin sensitivity
Your metabolism receives a marked boost after a HIIT session due to the EPOC (Excessive Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) effect, leading your body to burn calories at a faster rate even after you’re done with your session. Muscle tissue has also been shown to be more receptive to insulin post-training, which can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
3. HIIT helps to improve your athletic performance
HIIT has a massive carryover to just about any sport that you play, having a profound effect on your conditioning and speed. Things like interval training can and should be incorporated into your fitness routine to optimise its results. Even your day-to-day activities (e.g. climbing the stairs, running after your child, etc.) can benefit from having a body that’s used to handling intense activities.
4. HIIT can be effective with just ten minutes
HIIT can get exhausting really fast, considering that you’re work at near-100% capacity. Ideally, you will want to engage in such training at a gradual pace and start off with one session a week. Even at just 10 minutes, studies have shown that a short HIIT session have all of the same benefits as steady-state training. From there, you can work your way up to as high as 45 minutes for a demanding but intensely satisfying experience!
5. HIIT is amazingly fun
HIIT seems like a torturous process but people tend to keep coming back, hungry for more. The proof is in the pudding: people often prefer HIIT-style workouts to “continuous moderate” exercise as it's less time-consuming and far more exciting. Fitness movements like CrossFit have built an entire ideology around the principles of HIIT and have the numbers to show for it. Give it a shot yourself and see how much fun you can have!
The biggest advantage with HIIT is that it isn’t bound to a certain style of working out or specific exercises. Whether it’s in a beach, park or commercial gym setting, engaging in HIIT simply means doing brief periods of intense work (<80% effort) with short, structured breaks in between. As always, start off slow and work on mastering the basics before bringing the intensity up. Your body will thank you!