HIIT has become an increasingly popular form of exercise in recent years due to its many benefits. Personal Trainers across the globe are promoting HIIT workouts as a great way to get in shape and boost your fitness.
HIIT Workouts or High-Intensity Interval Training is made up of short bursts of high-intensity exercises followed by short periods of rest. Carried out over a typically shorter period of time compared to other forms of exercise, HIIT can be a highly effective way to achieve a long-lasting calorie burn.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the advantages of HIIT workouts.
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What Are The Advantages Of HIIT Workouts?
Recently I talked about how HIIT workouts can improve your fitness levels in a number of ways such as increasing your energy production and improving your body’s ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles.
You might still think HIIT is too simple to be effective as a workout, but the proven benefits of HIIT cannot be ignored.
It’s Short But Effective!
Life is chaotic. You might be constantly on the go between working, managing family time or leading a busy social life. Therefore it’s not always possible to free up enough time to visit the gym each week.
HIIT workouts are efficient. Taking as little as 15 minutes to complete, HIIT workouts can easily fit around a busy schedule. Got a free 15 minutes at the beginning of your day or on your lunch? Bust out a HIIT and burn some fat!
Spending 15 minutes of interval training four times a week will achieve more progress than an hour on a treadmill.
Good For Cardiovascular Health
Using intervals can boost your cardiovascular health by improving your body’s ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles during your workout.
You can also boost your aerobic capacity (amount of oxygen consumed during intense exercises) in a fraction of the time with a HIIT workout when compared to endurance training.
A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic concluded that HIIT can reverse signs of ageing at a cellular level.
The findings of the study showed that HIIT improved aerobic capacity and mitochondrial function for skeletal muscle. It also improved muscle protein content that enhanced energetic functions and caused muscle enlargement.
The researchers concluded that HIIT significantly enhanced the body’s ability to create new proteins and contributed to protein synthesis which can reverse adverse effects of ageing.
Your metabolism is your body’s way of converting food to energy to use throughout the day. Exercise increases your metabolism by burning more calories to fuel your workout.
HIIT workouts take this a step further by continuing the calorie burning for up to 24 hours after your workout. It has also been proven to shift your metabolism towards using fat as a fuel source more than carbs.
Balances Your Hunger Hormones
You might be thinking that the more exercise you do, the hungrier you will be after. However, this might not be as true as you once thought.
HIIT workouts can decrease your appetite by changing your levels of hunger hormones.
A study conducted in New York showed that the amount of food eaten by one group of participants within an hour of working out was 50% less than the amount eaten by the group who had not taken part in any exercise.
The conclusion was that your body temperature played a large role in managing your hunger levels.
As your body temperature increases during intense exercise, it affects your hunger hormones and effectively switches them off until your temperature reduces.
HIIT Can Be Done Anywhere
HIIT workouts are a range of cardio, bodyweight or weighted exercises that are executed with maximum effort.
You don’t need to use any flashy equipment or sign up to a gym in order to work up a sweat with HIIT. HIIT can be done anywhere you like whether you’re at home, in the garden, at the park.
You can create a highly effective workout that elevates your heart rate with the bare essentials. Simply combine a number of exercises and get to work.
Some examples include:
- Mountain Climbers
- Ab Crunches
- Sit Ups
- Star Jumps
- High Knees
Reduces Your Blood Sugar
HIIT can reduce your blood sugar levels by ramping up the metabolism of glucose in your muscles.
In fact, research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that HIIT reduced the blood sugar levels of participants with type 2 diabetes as much as diabetes medication.
Build Muscle While Losing Weight
We all have a little fat to lose and a calorie-controlled diet and a good fitness routine is the only way to lose fat.
Like any form of exercise, HIIT burns calories. However, HIIT workouts will burn quite a few more calories than steady-state cardio.
And did you know that you continue to burn fat and calories for up to 24 hours AFTER your HIIT workout? This is because the metabolism doesn’t return to normal after an intense workout.
Intense exercises cause the body to use more oxygen than normal thus creating oxygen debt. To return the body to its resting metabolic rate, oxygen needs to be replaced.
Any exercise that requires the body to consume more oxygen will use more energy – thus burning more calories.
You can also build muscle while losing weight with HIIT.
Many bodyweight or weighted exercises can be incorporated into your workout to encourage muscle building such as:
Muscle is more metabolically active than fat meaning the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, which again can assist in keeping your weight under control – as part of a calorie-controlled diet, of course.
Boosts Your Mental Health
It’s common to feel pretty amazing after completing HIIT workouts and this is attributed to the release of endorphins. A study released in 2017 shows that higher intensity exercises encourage the brain to release more endorphins than slower exercises. The ‘high’ after a workout makes us feel great which boosts motivation to workout more frequently.
What Are The Disadvantages Of HIIT Training?
After looking at the many benefits of HIIT workouts, it’s wise to look at the possible drawbacks too. Many of the disadvantages of HIIT are similar to that of other forms of exercise.
Stress On The Body
HIIT puts a lot of stress on the body. overtraining for long periods of time can lead to injuries.
There have also been some reports of minor gastrointestinal distress as a result of HIIT workouts which can be caused by excessive exercises that contort or compress the abdomen.
DOMS For Days
You may also suffer from DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) for a period of time after intense exercise. Particularly if you are not accustomed to regular exercise.
If you’re new to exercise, HIIT may not be for you. There are a lot of exercises that require some prior training or at least a certain level of flexibility.
Beginning with basic exercises or steady-state cardio can warm the body up to performing HIIT when you feel more limber.
Some people love finishing a workout absolutely drenched in sweat and shaking at the knees.
For others, this sounds like their idea of hell. If this sounds like you then HIIT is probably too intense for you.
If your motto is “no pain no gain” then you’ll do just right with HIIT. However, if you just want a bit of light cardio then you should pass on HIIT.
Should You Switch Up HIIT With Other Forms Of Exercise?
Your body is incredibly smart and it will adapt to your workout routine quite easily. Meaning, that over time you will likely see fewer results with HIIT than when you first began.
There are no hard and fast rules to say you shouldn’t do HIIT every day, but it does put a lot of stress on your body.
There may be some days where you don’t feel 100% so being mindful of your energy levels and listening to your body is crucial. Therefore, it’s not a bad practise to switch up your routine between a day of HIIT and a day of moderate cardio.
What are the advantages of HIIT workouts?
You might think HIIT is too simple to be effective as a workout, but the proven benefits of HIIT cannot be ignored.
– It saves time
– It’s good for cardiovascular health
– It’s anti-ageing
– HIIT increases your metabolism
– It can be done anywhere
– It reduces your blood sugar
– You can build muscle while losing weight
– HIIT can boost your mental health
What are the disadvantages of HIIT workouts?
Many of the disadvantages of HIIT are similar to that of other forms of exercise.
– It places a lot of stress on the body
– You may suffer from DOMS
– It’s a challenging form of exercise
– It may be too intense for those new to exercise