Get Better Results In Less Training Time with HiiT
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is when you alternate between high and low intensity exercise(s) or between high intensity exercise and a short period of rest. For example, a short sprint up a flight of stairs followed by a walk back down is interval training. Or a set of burpees followed by bodyweight rows.
If you’ve ever done a HIIT session you’ll know that body weight conditioning exercises for 15 minutes can be a lot more challenging than a walk around the block and actually can get you better results than a much longer, steady state cardio session, i.e. running at a steady pace.
So why does it work so well? It’s to do with how the body uses fuel. Briefly, there are two metabolic systems, aerobic, when you’re working at a lower intensity such as a brisk walk and anaerobic, when your body can’t get oxygen fast enough because of the intensity.
Each of these has benefits and with HIIT you’re using both.
- The higher intensity periods create a metabolic demand that is very effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning.
- The lower intensity periods let you recover and use the aerobic energy system.
Exercise basically acts as a stress on the body and creates a hormonal reaction to tissue damage caused. Hormonally, your body basically freaks out. Then it brings out the big guns to deal with the problem. High intensity exercise stresses the body so much that it’s forced to adapt.
This makes HIIT excellent for:
- losing body fat (while retaining lean body mass)
- strengthening the cardiovascular system
- developing sport-specific energy systems (e.g. training for that Olympic hockey team)
- developing “work capacity” (i.e. the ability to tolerate a high level of intensity for a longer period)
- improving fat and carbohydrate oxidation in skeletal muscle
- developing “mental toughness”
- making you awesome
- challenging the fast twitch muscle fibres — the fibres that are great for strength, power and looking buff
HIIT is extremely efficient. It lets you get a bigger training effect with less time spent. And compared to a 45-minute jog, 5 min of HIIT is a lot easier on the joints.
Don’t forget: Perform an adequate warm up and cool down when performing intervals.