6 Reasons to Introduce HIIT

 HIIT (pronounced ‘hit’), short for high-intensity interval training, has become the buzzword of the last decade, essentially due to its ability to accelerate fat loss while improving aerobic and even anaerobic endurance. A HIIT session is a combination of brief, very-high intensity bursts of cardio exercise followed by equal or longer periods of rest. Think 30 seconds to a minute of sprinting, followed by a minute or two of walking or slow jogging. Repeat this cycle for just 10 minutes, and you’ve completed a HIIT workout.

We now have more than 10 years of data showing HIIT yields pretty much the exact same health and fitness benefits as aerobic exercise, but in less time. But if you still need convincing that it’s time to introduce some HIIT into your life, consider some of the following benefits.

1. It Burns More Calories

According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research HIIT burns 25 to 30 per cent more calories than resistance training, cycling, and treadmill running. How? Because HIIT essentially demands more oxygen, which means a higher calorie burn.

2. It Burns More Fat in Less Time

How? Because it causes your body to start burning fat for energy instead of carbs, according to research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine. In a study in The Journal of Obesity, doing three HIIT workouts a week for 20 minutes each helped participants lose 4.4 pounds of body fat in 12 weeks (with no other changes made to diet or exercise).

3. The After-Burn Continues for Longer

Unlike standard cardio, HIIT pushes the body to utilize more oxygen, which leads to the after-burn that goes on after your session. A study published in the journal Sports Medicine Open shows that HIIT increases your metabolism post-exercise even more than jogging or resistance training.

4. It Strengthens the Heart

HIIT is a fantastic exercise to include if you want to strengthen the major heart muscles, which needs to work extra hard during an intense HIIT session. Contrary to what one would think, HIIT isn’t just for the young, fit and healthy. Studies have shown that, even among people with heart disease, HIIT can improve cardiorespiratory fitness more than more moderate intensity exercise.

5. It Can Improve Blood Sugar Control

One small study of healthy but sedentary people found just one minute total of HIIT performed three days a week for six weeks was enough to significantly improve blood sugar scores. The total workout time was just 10 minutes. In fact, a review of 50 studies also revealed that HIIT improves insulin resistance more than regular aerobic exercise (ie. exercise all at the same pace for the duration).

6. It Doesn’t Require Expensive Gym Equipment

All you need is your workout gear and a stopwatch (or your phone will do). If you’re interested in the science behind getting into the right ‘zone’, then you could consider investing in a heart rate monitor. The key to HIIT is pushing your heart rate up above 80% of its maximum. To get the maximum, subtract your age from 220.

Where to Begin

The original HIIT workout was designed as 20 seconds on, followed by 10 seconds off but this is far too intense for beginners. Instead, try Joe Wick’s beginners session of 30 seconds on, followed by 30 seconds off x 4 exercises and 4 rounds (no equipment needed). Then, after following this for about 4-6 weeks, consider slowly work your way toward a higher intensity on the work interval, changing the rest intervals to be a little shorter – this will push your fat burning and fitness capabilities even further. Good luck and please do let us know how you get on!

For Joe Wick’s beginners HITT video, click here.

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle