Unsurprisingly, the HIIT style of training remains a popular trend in the fitness industry. In 30 minutes or less, exercisers can achieve an efficient, results-driven workout of high-intensity exercise followed by short rest breaks. HIIT training incorporates strength training, cardiovascular exercise, or a mix of the two, and can be done solo or as part of a group training class.
History of HIIT
20th-century runners and their trainers get the credit for developing this training process. About 1910, Paavo Nurmi and trainer Lauri Pikhala put together an interval training system for their training sessions. Also Hannes Kolehmainen, the Finnish gold medalist rained for the Olympics with interval training. These runners focused on switching from fast to slow jogging intervals during training to improve stamina and strength.
By the mid-1930’s, the Swedish trainer Gosta Holmer developed a unique interval training system that required varying the intervals based on how the athlete felt. So, during a long run, an athlete may switch between a quick and a slow rate or between a quick and a medium pace or between a medium and a slow rate. The Swedish word for this kind of training is Fartlek or speed play, and this continues to be a popular type of training for runners
German trainer Woldemar Gerschler observed the Finns and Swedes and decided that there was an opportunity to develop this type of training even more. With Gerschler took interval training to a whole new level, which largely resembles interval training today. His interval training concentrated on greater intensity because the intervals of rest or light jogging that followed allowed for partial restoration, before the next intense interval.
What is HIIT?
While most people know that physical activity is healthy, it’s estimated that about 35% of people worldwide don’t get enough.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of physical training that involves fast, intense bursts of exercise, followed by brief, intervals with much lesser intensity.
This can be conducted on almost all cardio machines, including bikes, treadmills, rowers and even cross trainers. The actual activity being performed varies but can include sprinting, biking, jump rope or other body weight exercises. For example, a HIIT workout using a stationary exercise bike could consist of 30 seconds of cycling as fast as possible against high resistance, followed by several minutes of slow, easy cycling with low resistance. This would be considered one “round” or “repetition” of HIIT, and you would typically complete 4 to 6 repetitions in one workout.
Because there are hardly any pauses in a HIIT workout, you can do this in less than half the time of a regular workout. You can get a big calorie burn, rev up your metabolism, lose weight, gain strength and build muscle in 20 minutes.
“A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery,” says Don Williams, NASM, NSCA, head instructor at an HIIT center. “This afterburn effect is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.”
Prior to starting the workout, do some light dynamic stretching, such as twists at your waist and side lunges to warm up the lower and upper body. After the workout, do some cool-down stretches and hold them for 20 seconds each.
Benefits of HIIT
Not only does HIIT provide the benefits of longer-duration exercise in a much shorter amount of time — it may also provide some unique health benefits.
Burn Lots of Calories in a Short Time
You can burn calories quickly using HIIT. One study compared the calories burned during 30 minutes each of HIIT, weight training, running and biking. The researchers found that HIIT burned 30% to 35% more calories than the other forms of exercise.
In this study, a HIIT repetition consisted of 30 seconds of maximal effort, followed by 45 seconds of rest. This means that the participants were actually only exercising for 1/3 of the time that the running and biking groups were. Although each workout session was 25 minutes long in this study, it is common for HIIT workouts to be much shorter than traditional exercise sessions. This is because HIIT allows you to burn about the same amount of calories, but spend less time exercising.
Combing high intensity with interval training results in EPOC, which speeds your metabolic rate and translates into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours after a complete HIIT routine. This means you’ll still be burning fat even after you’ve left the gym.
Several studies have demonstrated HIIT’s impressive ability to increase your metabolic rate for hours after exercise. Some researchers have even found that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more so than jogging and weight training. In the same study, HIIT was also found to shift the body’s metabolism toward using fat for energy rather than carbs.
Quick and Convenient
Long gone are the days of not having enough time for exercise. HIIT workouts can be done anywhere: at home, in a hotel room, in a park, at the beach, etc. And most are 30 minutes or less.
HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule — whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break or to get in shape for a fast-approaching event. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the person jogging on the treadmill for an hour. And according to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), just two weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training.
Next time you’re slogging on a run, pick it up — just for 60 seconds. Just one minute of high-intensity work during an otherwise not-so-hard workout can boost your endurance and your overall health (according to measures like improved blood pressure and higher counts of mitochondria, which help fuel your body and brain), according to a study. That improved endurance will carry over to your more moderate-intensity runs, rides, and other workouts.