Due to its increasing popularity, there’s a high chance you’ve heard of HIIT. Standing for High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT is involves periods of extremely hard work interspersed with strategic rest periods to boost your metabolism, challenge your cardiovascular abilities, and really get your sweat on.
Though, does HIIT really promise all these things? Are the claims to be trusted? Or is this just another fitness fad that’ll waste your time?
Let’s take a look at how useful HIIT really is.
The Benefits of HIIT
There’s an extensive list of benefits you can get from HIIT that go above and beyond just calorie burning.
Essentially, HIIT is a quick and easy way to get your heart rate up and burn fat. Done right, it can burn as many calories as a normal 30-minute workout in half the time! Because you’re changing between extremely vigorous periods and lower, more subdued periods, you can put more effort into the high intensity intervals to burn more calories.
HIIT is perfect for busy schedules when you can’t fit in a full hour workout but still want to get all the benefits. Interestingly, HIIT doesn’t burn as many calories during the exercise itself as something like a jog or bike ride. However, what it does do is ramp up your metabolism so that you burn more calories after the session has ended. This is what’s known as the ‘after-burn’ effect. What this means is that you could spend 45 minutes sitting on a bike or complete a 20 minute HIIT session to burn the same amount of calories.
The scientific term for this is EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. A study conducted by the Tennessee State University highlighted this as the reason our metabolic rate increases in the 24 hours following HIIT, triggering fat loss and helping us burn energy even when we’re not exercising. HIIT sessions were also found to improve insulin sensitivity by anywhere from 23% – 58%, helping us further to burn fat and also lower our risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes.
Not only this, it’s incredibly versatile in terms of exercise selection. Whether you have access to a wide range of equipment or just your own body, you can always create an effective HIIT workout. Literally any exercise can be incorporated as part of a HIIT session. Whether it’s squats, cleans, swings, or presses, needs a barbell or just a pull-up bar, or doesn’t involve any equipment whatsoever, you can involve it in a HIIT session.
Pros and Cons of HIIT for Fat Loss
- Time efficient – perfect for people with a busy schedule
- Increases fat burning after exercise
- Burns more calories in a shorter space of time
- Can be done anywhere with any equipment and any exercises (push-ups, burpees, lunges, etc.)
- Increases your metabolism and speeds up your growth hormone up to 450% according to research
- You have to have a basic level of fitness in order to begin due to the high intensity intervals
- Can cause dizziness if done incorrectly (alternating between sitting and standing)
- Can come with a high risk of injury due to the high intensity intervals if doing new exercises or going harder than you should
Despite the fact that there are some negatives to HIIT, that can easily be said about any style of training. HIIT is a fantastic tool for fat loss that can help you reach your fitness goals, lose weight, and improve other areas of your fitness in a very short period of time. You can even combine it with a strength training program to help minimise fat gain when trying to build muscle or even just use it as a fun way to keep on top of your health.
Author: Alex Reader MSc.