What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Put simply it is exercise broken into repeated cycles of high intensity exercise (eg 30 seconds sprinting) broken up with short periods of recovery (eg 30 seconds walking). The effect is to get the heart rate nice and high, 80-95% of your maximum heart rate, then allowing a short reprieve. The ratio of active time to rest time varies but an easy option is that your rest period is half as long as your active eg 30s sprint, 15s walk. These short sets of explosive exercise are repeated only a small number of times meaning very short sessions, 18-30 minutes, and lots of time saved! A 20 minute HIIT session would potentially replace a 60 minute jog. Surely that’s too good to be true!?
So what does HIIT do?
HIIT is not just a quick exercise option, it is absolutely fantastic for your health! Studies into the effects of HIIT are not restricted to improved fitness levels in sports professionals.
- Studies show that HIIT improves the cardiovascular system, strengthening the heart as a muscle and reducing the number of beats it takes at rest (a good thing).
- HIIT burns body fat upto 9 times faster, even during rest periods. Body fat puts a huge strain on the heart and increases the risk of heart attack.
- It improves lung capacity, this will make exercise feel much more manageable over time.
- It saves you time: Studies found that 2.5 hrs of sprint HIIT training produced similar muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training and similar endurance benefits.
- It increases your metabolism for upto 24 hours.
- It doesn’t reduce muscle mass: HIIT uses fuel stored as fat in the body, giving muscles a wide berth.
- It reduces Diabetes risk: Studies suggest this is due to its effect on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.
- It slows the aging process: Stimulates the production of Human Growth Hormone by upto 450%.
Is it for anyone?
HIIT can be adapted for most people. Remember the exercise is not based on a set speed or number of reps, its based on your effort. You simply put in as much effort as YOU can. It doesn’t matter what your current level of fitness, you’ll be great! However if you suffer from any health conditions, especially heart conditions, you will need to speak to your doctor first to check you are safe to do so.