Last Updated October 19th, 2019
How does it work?
Gone are the days where one used to spend hours in the gym working on the fitness. It is the modern era and you hardly have time. HIIT or high-intensity interval training seems to be the right type of fitness training that is required where you spend less time but gain maximum results. In fact, it is considered the best fitness regimen to improve your metabolic function, cardiovascular function, as well as the respiratory function. It is by far the best way to burn extra calories that help in reducing weight.
Since HIIT workouts are known to improve the metabolic function of the body, it seems to be the best fitness regimen for an athlete. The improved metabolic function enables the body to burn fat even after the completion of the fitness regimen. During a HIIT workout program, you will be performing rigorous exercises for a short period of time followed by 10-20 seconds of rest.
This high-intensity training coupled with short breaks would account for only 20 to 30 minutes, which means you need not spend hours in the gym.
How does HIIT benefit us?
A study was conducted to find how well HIIT workouts perform against steady exercises. At the end of the study, it was determined that during the active workout process, steady exercise was helpful in burning more calories as compared to HIIT workouts. An important finding was that the calorie burning process ended as soon as the steady exercise was stopped, but continued even after stopping the HIIT exercise. This eventually made HIIT workout burn a higher number of calories as compared to steady-state exercise. Another finding of this study was that steady exercises actually break muscles whereas HIIT exercises help in building the muscles.
Improves metabolic function
This is by far the best feature of HIIT workouts. In the case of steady exercises, the calorie burning process generally is involved only during the active exercise period. In the case of HIIT exercise program, calorie burning process continues beyond the active phase of the exercise program. This is because HIIT improves the body’s metabolic function which helps the body to continuously burn calories all day. At the end of the day, you tend to burn a higher number of calories as compared to steady state exercises. Due to this improved metabolic function, there is high oxygen consumption which helps to build the muscles.
Improves cardiovascular function
HIIT regimen can work on three important aspects of the human body namely the heartbeat, oxygen intake, and regulating the hormones. All these three aspects are important to have a healthy body. Studies have indicated that HIIT workouts can have a lasting impact on the blood flow and dilation of the blood vessels. It was also determined that due to adequate blood flow and regular calorie burning, it can actually even help people suffering from type 2 diabetes by reducing the blood sugar levels.
Endurance is the main aspect that all athletes aim for. One of the objectives of the HIIT workout plan is to improve endurance. Studies have indicated that HIIT workout regimen can increase the VO2max during an active physical activity. Higher the VO2max, better is the endurance. This is because VO2max is considered the amount of oxygen consumption during an active exercise regimen. Since the body requires a large amount of oxygen supply to produce energy, it is very important that adequate oxygen is supplied at the right time. This is achieved by increasing the heart rate and maintaining it. Keeping the heart rate at higher levels is extremely difficult during a steady exercise regimen and hence HIIT is the best way to keep the heart rate up during an active exercise regimen. This enables the heart muscles to expand and allow better blood flow. During the short resting breaks, the heart muscles recover quickly which helps you build that extra stamina. Since HIIT has short intervals, you are not overexerting and at the same time keeping up the pace as well. All these factors are known to increase overall endurance.
EPOC is the phenomenon where the body pumps in extra oxygen after a fitness routine. Since the body requires high levels of oxygen to produce energy during exercise, the body actually would be in the state of oxygen hunger after the completion of the exercise regimen. During this phase, the body goes into recovery phase where it repairs the torn muscles and releases the essential hormones required to repair the muscles. This phase of EPOC is highly important since you need that extra energy to even intake extra oxygen. This is achieved by breaking down the fat stores that are accumulated in the body. This leads to an important phenomenon called calorie burning, which in the long run helps reduce weight and keeps you active.
Helps with lean muscle building
Another important benefit of HIIT comes in the form of muscle building. After the HIIT workout program, the body goes into the restoration process where the body fats are used up in order to fulfill the energy needs. During this process, there is also muscle repair which simultaneously occurs. During this muscle repair process, growth hormones such as IGF-1 is released which helps the body to build the muscles, especially the lean muscles.
Who can benefit from HIIT Workouts?
HIIT workouts can be performed safely by a majority of people. If you are already working on a fitness program, it is quite easy to switch over to HIIT workouts. On the other hand, if this is your first time, you need to first get trained by a professional and take one step at a time. Since HIIT workout lasts for only 20 to 30 minutes, you could reduce the time duration when you are a beginner. This would make you get accustomed to the new exercise regimen.
On a precautionary basis, it is recommended that people suffering from heart problems, back problems, and vertigo need to avoid HIIT workouts. It is recommended to first work with a professional in order to ascertain if this type of fitness training is suitable for you. The bottom line is that HIIT workouts are generally more beneficial than risky. They seem to improve the heart health by regulating the heartbeat, improve secretion of growth hormones, improve metabolic function, and make you fitter and stronger.
Build your very own HIIT workout that suits you
You might be a beginner or an athlete who is already following an exercise regimen, but HIIT workouts can be incorporated in any of the regular exercise regimens. One of the important things you gain by adding HIIT workout is the stamina. Stamina is crucial for an athlete to succeed in any form of physical activity. You may be having a perfectly toned body with the help of regular exercises, but it is difficult to excel in a particular physical activity if you do not have the stamina. This is where HIIT helps you excel by providing you that stamina.
Since HIIT mainly focuses on strength and stamina, you can make the necessary changes to the exercise regimen that would suit you the best. You need to split the fitness regimen into sets and try to achieve them. For example, if you are planning on 10 minutes of exercise regimen, split the time with four sets. Now, make a point to achieve at least 90% of the target by completing at least three complete sets.
It is important to focus on three main aspects while formulating your own HIIT program. These are activity time, resting time, and the reps during the activity time. It should be noted that you need to spend a higher amount of time for the intense activity time. The more you do this, the higher are the results. It is not important to have a longer time in the initial stages, but can gradually increase over a period of time. Secondly, it is the amount of time you are spending to take breaks. Here, you need to concentrate on reducing the rest time as much as possible. You take longer break initially and shorten them as time progresses. Finally, it is important to make your fitness regimen challenging by adding reps in your activity time. This makes the activity more challenging and gives you higher results.
HIIT Workouts that can help you
The following workout plans can give you an insight into how your HIIT workouts can be formulated. You can choose one of these and start following them.
HIIT with treadmill
Any exercise regimen requires you to warm up so you can start by jogging on the treadmill for a couple of minutes. Now let us start with the intense burning phase and rest phase. The total time would be 10 minutes. These 10 minutes are divided into 10 parts where 20 seconds will be allotted to the intense burning and 40 seconds will be allotted to rest for every minute. You have to do a set of 10 rounds to complete the process. Once you are accustomed to this, you can extend the total time to 15 minutes and then later to 20 minutes. You can make this more challenging by reducing the rest from 40 seconds to 30 seconds. Finally, cooling can be achieved with a couple of minutes of jogging on the treadmill.
HIIT with cycling
For this exercise regimen, we will incorporate the Tabata fitness regimen. During a Tabata regimen, you have to exercise for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. To perform this exercise, start cycling at a normal pace for a couple of minutes to warm up. Next, come the intense burning and resting schedules. Here, you will be burning hard for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds for a period of 10 minutes. Once you are accustomed to this 10 minutes, you can increase the time frame from 10 minutes to 15 minutes and then 20 minutes. Finally, cool down with a couple of minutes of slow cycling.
HIIT with circuit training
Circuit training with HIIT involves performing three exercises namely Burpees, mountain climbers, and the jumping jacks. An alternative for these three exercises are push-ups, lunges, and kettlebell swings. Here you will be performing the three types of exercises back to back and then taking a short break. A short break will be in the form of jogging or hopping. Start this regimen with 10 reps, and once you have become accustomed to this, you can increase this to 15 reps and later 20 reps.
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