HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a powerful method for losing weight, improving performance, elevating energy levels, and boosting overall health. The time efficiency of HIIT workouts can help trainees stay committed to regular exercise and achieve superior results. This blog post closely examines the benefits, importance, and science behind HIIT training. When learning about HIIT, it can be helpful to understand a few basic terms related to the different forms of cardiovascular exercise. Understanding basic background information can help you appreciate why HIIT training is so popular and effective and could be the best exercise mode to achieve your fitness goals.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Training
All cardio training aims to increase the heart and lungs function, capacity, and overall health. The benefits of cardio exercise include:
Lowering blood pressure
Strengthening the immune system
Mental health support and stress relief
Blood sugar regulation
Management of healthy weight
Aerobic training is any training that leads to a sustained increase in heart rate during exercise. Walking, running, hiking, and biking are all steady-state cardiovascular activities. These activities are usually performed at lower intensities for longer durations, where heart rates are kept relatively low. Running a 5k or a 10k is an example of an aerobic effort.
Anaerobic training is more intense and shorter. Anaerobic efforts break down glucose (without oxygen) to fuel the effort. Weightlifting, HIIT, and circuit training are all types of anaerobic training. Designing a workout that includes kettlebell swings, burpees, push-ups, lunges, and rowing for aggressive bouts of time and higher intensity, is an example of anaerobic training. 1-minute incline treadmill sprint repeats for repetitions is another example of brutally effective anaerobic conditioning.
Both aerobic and anaerobic have their place in a fitness regimen. Aerobic-based workouts are more time-consuming, increase the risk of overuse injuries, along with causing weight-loss plateaus, and, to be honest, can be tedious. The gravitation toward anaerobic-style interval training has been gaining popularity over the last decade.
Enter: HIIT Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fantastic method to burn many calories, accelerate fat loss and build lean muscle using shorter bursts of exercise separated by brief rest periods.
Generally speaking, HIIT workouts involve exercising at a high intensity for 30 seconds to several minutes. These exercise efforts are separated by 1-5 minutes of recovery using either no or low-intensity exercise. According to the NASM, HIIT involves working at 80-95% of maximum heart rate. While there is some variance, a simple way to estimate your maximum heart is by subtracting your age from 220. This number will give you the heart rate ceiling, which you can use to determine your work intensity and recovery zones.
Science of HIIT
The science supporting HIIT training is pretty interesting. When working out at an intensity challenging to sustain for a long time, you’ll feel burning in your muscles and out of breath. When exerting yourself at higher levels, the muscles accumulate lactic acid, creating a burning feeling. Simultaneously, you’re depleting oxygen stores. After intense bouts of work, your body is forced to work extremely hard to build back the oxygen stores. This phenomenon is called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and can last 16 to 24 hours after exercising.
EPOC is commonly referred to as the “after-burn” and happens when the body is recovering from a pre-exercise state. Hours after an intense workout, you might notice an elevated heart rate, core temperature, and even respiration. Increased feelings of hunger are also common.
One excellent feature of HIIT workouts is that they can be adjusted to suit anybody’s fitness level. Beginners, intermediate and advanced trainees can train together in the same space and achieve desired results by adjusting the weight, training cadence, and exercise progressions according to their current fitness abilities. In this way, everyone reaps the rewards of HIIT while staying safe.
The extent of EPOC and its benefits depend on the workout intensity, which is why wearing a heart rate monitor to track intensity is so beneficial. Assuming you’re putting in a solid effort, HIIT can burn 25-30% more calories AFTER the workout is completed (compared to other forms of exercise). Yet another check in the win column for high-intensity interval training.
Over time, as fitness improves, introducing a progressively more challenging stimulus will keep gains coming. In 2-3 months, the aesthetic and performance improvements are often profound.
Benefits of HIIT Training
With any form of exercise, it’s not unreasonable to ask, “What’s in it for me?” After all, we exercise regularly to improve health, aesthetics, and athleticism.
The benefits of HIIT training include:
Burning lots of calories in a short amount of time
Higher metabolic rate post-workout
Improve muscle’s ability to use oxygen
Reduce heart rate and blood pressure
Improve insulin resistance and reduce blood sugar
Boost aerobic and anaerobic performance
How do you know if you’re HIIT training? It’s not an unreasonable question to ask.
There are several methods available to measure the exertion on your body during exercise. Simple measures include talk tests and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). One indicator of aerobic activities is the ability to maintain a conversation. The rate of perceived exertion during aerobic exercises is generally on the lower end of the 1-10 scale, somewhere around a 4-5.
HIIT on the other hand tends to hover around 7-9 on the rate of perceived exertion scale.
You can measure a more precise gauge of effort by wearing a heart rate monitor, which displays beats per minute (BPM).
Heart rate monitors measure electrical signals from your heart. The electrical signals are transmitted from a chest strap to a wristwatch or a data center. Wristwatch-only heart rate monitors are a newer offering on the market that deliver valuable workout data. Tracking heart rate during a workout allows a person to interpret and understand the benefits of the exercise.
Having to invest less time in a workout without compromising results is a significant selling point of HIIT. The increased intensity of HIIT-style workouts requires less time for the actual training session. Total body training activities include boxing and resistance training (kettlebell swings, push-ups, chin-ups, squats, etc.)
15-30 minutes of HIIT training burns many calories and creates a significant training stimulus. Some research has shown high-intensity interval training to produce health benefits comparable to twice as much lesser intensity exercise.
The time efficiency of HIIT is vital to consider, especially if time is preventing you from sticking to a routine.
Experience the Benefits of HIIT Training at REFORMFIT
At REFORMFIT, we carefully design and coach high-intensity interval training programs to leverage the benefits and deliver powerful results to our clients. REFORMFIT group-style training studio offers two categories of workout programs:
Muscle & Tone
Fat Shredder program includes eight total stations, with two of them being boxing stations. Muscle & Tone uses weight training exercises and ten stations, with two stations focused on boxing. Both programs are a real “HIIT”; clients always leave the studio feeling energized and closer to their fitness goals.
The strategic implementation of unique HIIT-based workout methods is a signature model at our gym that gets results for our clients!