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Apr 14, 2022

We get it. Finding the time to work out can be hard. If you are someone who is always on the go with work, family, or life in general, the faster you can get it done, the better. That’s where high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help.

You might have heard the term HIIT thrown around at the gym, or amongst friends that you work out with. If you’re currently on your own health and fitness journey right now, you might be wondering if a HIIT program is the best program for you.

Find out:

So, what exactly is high-intensity interval training, what are the benefits, and can it really maximise your training efficiency if you are short on time?

What is HIIT?

Designed to push you to your limits, HIIT has become a popular training choice for anyone who wants to get maximum results in little time while working towards their fitness goals.

This fast-paced training style is typically between 20-45 minutes and involves short, intense bursts of exercise. These exercises often use bodyweight, but can have added weights, like a kettlebell, dumbbell or medicine ball, and are followed by either active or complete rest. HIIT workouts will make you sweat and keep your heart rate elevated the whole time!

The idea is to work at your maximum effort. According to the American Heart Association, vigorous activity is usually around 70-85% of your maximum heart rate, which is the maximum number of times your heart will beat in a minute without you going beyond your limits.

For you to complete HIIT and get the full benefits, you need to push yourself every round!

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What are the benefits of HIIT?

Are short workouts as effective as longer steady-state workouts? Here are some of the benefits of a HIIT workout.

Results continue after you complete the workout

High-intensity workouts burn more energy in a shorter period of time than steady-state cardio, generating a greater excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or “afterburn” effect.

According to the American Council on Exercise, “with HIIT, you not only burn a lot of calories during the workout, but because of the high intensity you will continue to burn calories as your body replaces energy and repairs muscle proteins damaged during exercise.” You can continue to burn energy anywhere up to 48-72 hours after you finish the workout. Impressive, right?

Increases VO2max

HIIT works to improve your VO2max, which is the maximum rate at which your heart, lungs and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise — as stated by the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine in the US, it is considered one of the best indicators of cardiorespiratory fitness.

A 2012 study on the effect of high-intensity interval training on cardiovascular function, VO2max, and muscular force published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even short term bouts of HIIT (six sessions in total) dramatically improved VO2max in a test group of both men and women.

When you have an increased VO2max, your body can gain better endurance in aerobic exercises and may also improve overall health.

Builds Type 2 fast-twitch muscle

Fast-twitch (Type 2) muscle fibres are used in explosive bursts of movements like those you find in HIIT and are important to maintain strength and a healthy metabolism. Type 2 fibres are integrated with slow-twitch (Type 1) fibres, and are found in the muscles throughout your body in different proportions — larger muscle groups like the quads, glutes and hamstrings typically contain a higher volume of Type 2 fibres.

Both your fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibres interact during aerobic exercises like running, where your fast-twitch fibres are recruited first. When they begin to fatigue, your slow-twitch fibres kick into gear, and that’s when they start to take over.

As stated by the American Council on Exercise, including HIIT in your workout program can “engage more fast-twitch fibres to help you increase strength levels or become more explosive” as they require more energy to operate and grow.

Regulates blood glucose levels

Recent studies including a 2019 article published by the American Diabetes Association suggest that people suffering from pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes may benefit from HIIT.

HIIT can help to regulate your appetite hormones by increasing glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to regulate blood glucose at healthy levels.

To ensure this training style is suitable for you, always follow the advice of your health professional.