HIIT – Train Smarter, Not Harder!

Looking for the ‘perfect’ exercise to fit your busy schedule? HIIT workouts are extremely popular as they give you maximum benefits in minimal time. Here’s the lowdown on what HIIT is, and how it can benefit you.

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and involves workouts that combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. The beauty of HIIT workouts is that they are short and sweet, with sessions as short as 15 minutes providing significant fitness improvements.

The Benefits.

As with any regular exercise, you’re going to see results and despite how short the workout is, it can produce health benefits similar to twice as much moderate-intensity exercise.

Here are some of the main health benefits of a HIIT routine:

  • You can burn calories quickly using a HIIT workout. On average, 25–30% more calories are burned in a 30-minute workout compared to other exercise.
  • Given the intensity of the workout, HIIT can increase your metabolism for hours after exercise. This results in additional calories being burned even after you’ve finished exercising.
  • Fat loss! HIIT can produce similar fat loss to traditional exercise, within a shorter time frame. It can also help reduce visceral fat (fat stored in the abdominal area near several vital organs including your liver, stomach and intestines)
  • High-intensity interval training may assist in reducing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. These improvements have been seen in both healthy and diabetic individuals.
  • Besides being great for your physical well-being, HIIT has also shown promise for boosting mental health. Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood, reduce stress levels and improve sleep.

HIIT vs Cardio Training: What’s better?

As far as health benefits go, most of us can agree that regular exercise will always improve your health, regardless of what exercise it actually is. There’s an argument to be made whether there’s any significant difference between performing HIIT versus going for a run. Let’s dive a little deeper into the differences.

HIIT and cardio are both types of exercises that have their benefits. The individual’s goals, preferences and limitations will shape what methods will work best for them.

Put simply, HIIT is still a type of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between intense anaerobic exercise and short recovery periods.

Cardio on the other hand, is short for cardiovascular exercise (also called steady-state cardio). It is a form of aerobic exercise that ranges from low to high intensity, depending on the type of exercise you’re doing.

Aerobic exercise is any type of “cardio” exercise. During aerobic exercise, you breathe faster and deeper than when your heart rate is at rest. You’re maximising the amount of oxygen in the blood. Your heart rate goes up, increasing blood flow to the muscles and back to the lungs.

Examples of aerobic exercise include swimming laps, running, or cycling.

Anaerobic exercises involve quick bursts of energy, performed at maximum effort for a short time. During anaerobic exercise, your body requires immediate energy. Your body relies on stored energy sources, rather than oxygen, to fuel itself.

Examples include jumping, sprinting, or heavy weight lifting.

Basically, both aerobic exercise (cardio training) and anaerobic exercise (HIIT) will promote weight loss, strengthen your heart, increase stamina and may help lower and control blood pressure. 

HIIT workouts will however build muscle, strengthen bones and burn more calories in a shorter time.

In summary, both are good for you!

However, HIIT isn’t for the faint hearted. If you don’t push yourself to the max, due to the short nature of these workouts, you won’t get the benefits of HIIT or see results from your training. If you hate pushing yourself to the max and prefer getting your exercise through a leisurely stroll or jog, then you’re probably not going to enjoy HIIT. 

Of course, if you’re training for a truly endurance sport then you simply can’t skip the long, slow runs or rides that are an essential part of an endurance training program.

Summary

We know regular exercise, of any kind, is key to maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle. HIIT workouts undoubtedly provide considerable results in a shorter time frame, but you have to work for it!

Consistency is key and whether you’re looking to be a peak performing athlete or just get the blood moving, you’re best to find what program will work best for you overall.