To get something you’ve never had before, you’re likely going to have to do something you’ve never done before. So why not make it HIIT training—especially since it can get you exactly where you need to be physique-wise? Here’s everything you need to know about the HIIT fitness craze and how it can benefit you.
HIIT, shorthand for high-intensity interval (or intermittent) training, involves giving maximum (and even extreme) amounts of effort—through quick, intense bursts of exercise—often over relatively short amounts of time. This first stage of the workout is complemented by short (sometimes active) recovery periods, for an approach that’s designed to burn more fat in less time.
Why is the HIIT exercise method such an effective fat-burner? It all comes down to Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Through these intense workouts, your muscles burn and you lose your breath. From there, your muscles begin to fill up with lactic acid (the chemical responsible for that burn) and your body’s oxygen stores become depleted, forcing your body to work harder to build them back up.
The result of this change in your physiology is more calories burned than if you’d exercised at a lower intensity for the same (or longer) period of time.
HIIT training may be a good fit if you’re:
Conversely, HIIT training may not be a viable option if you’re:
Stephen H. Boutcher, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales School of Medical Sciences in Sydney conducted research to determine what (if any) relationship existed between HIIT-type training and fat loss. Note that in his light-shedding article that appeared in the Journal of Obesity, he actually refers to HIIT training as High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise.
Regardless of what you call this extreme intensity exercise, Boutcher’s findings suggest that the effect of its opposite—regular aerobic exercise—on body fat is negligible. Moreover that alternatives like HIIT may have a greater impact on body composition. Boutcher notes that emerging research examining high-intensity intermittent exercise indicates that this approach may be more effective—specifically as it relates to reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat.
Boutcher also reports that healthy young and older adult men and women can improve cardiorespiratory fitness (studied in terms of maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max) 4% to 46% in training periods lasting from 2 to 15 weeks.
HIIT training has been trending pretty hard over the past few years—but does that mean it’s right for you? Here are its pros and cons to help you decide:
Remember: one of the main selling points of HIIT training is its versatility. To give you an idea of just how versatile it is, here are some sample HIIT programs pins from Pinterest. In it, you’ll find many of the 10 effective HIIT exercises we’ve listed below—and much more.
While it is possible to integrate free weights, when it comes to your HIIT exercise days, we recommend erring on the side of cardio in order to obtain the best results. Here’s a list of 10 of the best HIIT exercises that reflect this rule:
For info on how to do an at-home HITT workout, read this article!