The Benefits of Hi-Intensity Interval Training
Over past decades, the mention of exercise has immediately conjured up images of hours on the treadmill. Today, there is a wide variety of sports, fitness classes and activities available for those that want to keep active and live a healthy lifestyle. With a constant stream of trends, not all of them stick, but hi-intensity interval training has risen as an effective fitness standard. Boosting numerous health benefits; from weight loss and endurance to toned muscles and a strong heart, the popularity of this fitness trend is definitely well earned.
Hi-intensity interval training (also called HIIT) will have you working hard for a short period of time, resting for a slightly longer period, then repeating the process. And when we say working hard, we mean blood pumping, body sweating, maximum effort kind of working hard. The epitome of ‘quality, not quantity’, the short length intervals allow you to really push yourself and your fitness. Here, we discuss why HIIT is a great addition to your next fitness holiday, from its minimum time maximum effort ethos, to its ability to offer a full body workout. Don’t abandon your weekend jog just yet – a mixture of training is a great way to keep your body guessing – but swap in a couple of hi-intensity interval sessions to reap some of these healthy rewards.
1. Minimum time needed…
With hi-intensity interval training on the menu, finding time to exercise becomes a whole lot easier. The key to this form of exercise is that you work at your maximum capacity, but only for a short period of time. A HIIT workout should not be much more than 20 minutes long, so it can easily be squeezed into your day, be it morning, evening or even working out in your lunch break.
2. …maximum effort required
Just because this form of exercise is quick doesn’t meant that it’s painless. During those short bursts of activity, you should be working at your absolute maximum, pushing yourself faster and further before resting. Hi-intensity interval training demands that you challenge your fitness and performance every time you put on your trainers. Never again will you finish a workout questioning if you could have given more.
3. No equipment? No problem
Not only is HIIT easy to find time for, it’s also easy to perform wherever you are. Sprinting and skipping are both forms of exercise that can be adapted for hi-intensity interval training which can be done pretty much anywhere. Turn your living room into your personal hi-intensity circuit, and take advantage of the variety of health and fitness apps available to time your splits, plan workouts and track your progress.
4. Better cardiovascular health
This form of exercise is incredibly effective at strengthening your heart; as it beats faster, slower and then faster again, as you switch between work and rest. The elasticity and flexibility of your arteries will also increase, protecting your body against cardiovascular disease and improving your longevity through daily exercise. Heart disease is aleading cause of death worldwide, so choose hi-intensity interval training to fortify this important muscle and protect your health.
5. Reach weight loss goals
While steady-state cardio does have its benefits, hi-intensity interval training should be your first choice if you’re looking for long-term weight loss. From sprinting through the park to a Spinning class, studies suggest this form of exercise burns around 13 calories a minute - that’s 3 more than running at a steady pace. Hi-intensity activity also regulates blood sugar levels, helping you to curb cravings and make healthier food choices.
6. A boost to your metabolism
An important aspect to weight loss is speeding up your metabolism, and hi-intensity interval training is a master in this fitness field. The intense intervals require you to process more oxygen to fuel your workout, raising your metabolic rate and unleashing feel-good endorphins. Even better, your body keeps breaking down fat stores after exercise, giving a boost to your metabolism and your health all day long.
7. Increased endurance
HIIT provides a quicker, and arguably more entertaining, way of improving your endurance than long sessions at a steady-pace. Adding a 30 second sprint in the middle of your mile or ending on a sprint finish will provide a new fitness challenge, improve your performance and your health. Use your progress as your motivation, finding the energy to add another 10 seconds or another repetition.
8. Improved muscle strength
Hi-intensity interval training is a great opportunity to step away from the lure of the treadmill and try a full body workout. As long as it involves alternating intense work and rest, you can add almost any form of exercise or equipment into your session. Incorporating TRX suspension training, weighted lunges or the oh-so-painful but oh-so-effective burpees into your routine will involve multiple muscle groups for a satisfying fitness fix.
9. Adds some variety
If you’re getting a bit bored with your traditional cardio slog, mix it up with a workout that will really shake up your routine. So many different activities can be incorporated into a healthy hi-intensity routine, from discovering the benefits of kickboxing to building strength with kettlebells or getting moving with sports like squash. Due to its tough nature, it should only be completed every other day, so try other fitness activities in between to prevent risk of injury.