Who can do high intensity interval training?
What Is HIIT?
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has emerged as one of the most popular workout methods. From athletes and fitness pros to health experts, everyone is praising its benefits. Research shows that HIIT can lower heart disease risk, improve blood lipid profile, and reduce inflammatory markers in the body. In the long run, it protects against stroke, high blood pressure, and metabolic disorders. Weight loss is a welcomed bonus.
This training method alternates between short intense bursts of exercise and periods of rest or slow-paced exercise. Most HIIT protocols involve a 2:1 ratio of work to recovery periods, such as 30 seconds of running followed by 15 seconds of walking. A typical session lasts for 10 to 30 minutes. Some workouts, such as Tabata, take less than four minutes to complete. The Gibala regimen involves a three-minute warm-up followed by 60 seconds of intense exercise and 75 seconds of rest. You can even create your own HIIT workout.
In general, high intensity interval training is used along with weight lifting, functional training, or full body circuits. It requires no special equipment and can be done just about anywhere. HIIT can be applied to running, cycling, squatting, bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, and much more. Compared to traditional cardio, it burns fat up to 50 percent more efficiently and doesn’t “eat” lean mass. Most fitness pros skin cardio in the off season because of its catabolic effect. With HIIT, you won’t have to worry about muscle loss.
Who Can Do HIIT?
Contrary to popular belief, this training method isn’t just for athletes. Anyone can do HIIT to get leaner, faster, and more muscular. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends high intensity exercise to all adults aged 18 to 64. Elite athletes have known this secret to fat loss for years. Even if you’re a newbie, you can still do it. The key is to start slowly and focus on building your endurance.
Research indicates that HIIT is safe and beneficial for people with heart disease, arthritis, stroke, diabetes, and neurological disorders. Additionally, it’s less time consuming and works better than steady state cardio. When done regularly, it can reverse the symptoms associated with chronic diseases and boost your athletic performance.
According to health experts, alternating between high intensity and low intensity exercise is more effective than working out at a moderate pace at improving metabolic, respiratory, and cardiovascular functions. As a rule of thumb, you should exercise at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate during the active part of a HIIT session. Beginners are advised to use a stationary bike or treadmill so they can adjust the pace mechanically. If your gym provides personal training services, ask an instructor to guide you.
Just like any other exercise, HIIT may lead to injuries. To stay safe, start small and refrain from pushing yourself too hard. Your body needs time to adjust to any new workout. If you’re over 55, consult your doctor before starting a HIIT regimen. Maintain proper form to avoid injury.
Begin with simple exercises, such as indoor cycling, bodyweight squats, mountain climbers, spinning, or jumping rope. As you progress, apply HIIT to running, burpees, sprinting, or even push-ups.
Be aware that most people can’t do a full HIIT session right from the start. As your endurance increases, you’ll be able to go for greater intensity and longer intervals. Ideally, use a fitness watch or a chronometer to time your intervals.
The Mind-Blowing Benefits of HIIT
High intensity interval training is considered the best way to shed fat and increase metabolism. Due to its short duration, it’s perfect for those with a busy schedule. Studies have found that 12 minutes of intense exercise yield better results than five hours of moderate aerobic training. According to the Journal of Obesity, overweight subjects who did HIIT for 12 weeks experience dramatic reductions in visceral and abdominal fat as well as increased aerobic endurance. Other studies indicate that HIIT produces measurable changes in DNA and boosts the production of fat-burning enzymes.
With HIIT, you burn calories during and after exercise. This training method elevates your metabolism for up to 48 hours post workout. Additionally, it improves cardiorespiratory fitness, keeps your heart healthy, and regulates blood sugar levels. Evidence shows that high intensity interval training can improve body composition in just six weeks.
This workout method is so effective because of its ability to increase maximal oxygen consumption. Basically, your body becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen to the muscles and tissues. A study conducted at McMaster University suggests that 10 minutes of HIIT burn just as many calories as 50 minutes of traditional cardio. On top of that, HIIT triggers the so-called afterburn effect, causing your body to torch more calories at rest.
Unlike steady state cardio, this training method has a minimal impact on the stress hormone cortisol levels. When you’re doing cardio, your body releases more cortisol. This leads to a reduction in HGH and testosterone levels, causes fatigue, and triggers catabolism. Elevated cortisol levels and muscle loss go hand in hand. Moreover, your body adapts to steady state cardio and begins to use less energy, which results in weight loss plateaus. HIIT, on the other hand, lasts just a few minutes, so its impact on cortisol levels is negligible. For best results, use it along with strength training. This will allow you to build lean muscle and torch fat. Keep your workouts short and intense, try new exercises, and eat clean to maximise your gains.