what is HIIT
HIIT is not just a trendy workout, it is an effective fat-burning exercise protocol
High-intensity interval training is a great way to fit exercise into any schedule. You get many of the benefits of cardio in half or 1/3 the time, it can be done at home with no special equipment, and many types of exercise fit into a HIIT protocol.
There are many ways to support a healthy metabolism. Two major ones that have gotten a lot of attention recently are Intermittent Fasting (IF) and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The good news is that both are relatively simple to do, can be free or cheap to implement, and can be used together! Check out my article from February 2nd for more information on IF.
What is HIIT?
High-Intensity Interval Training – (HIIT) involves a short workout alternating periods of “work” and “rest” or high and low intensity. This may be done with just about any activity – weights, kettlebells, jump squats, jumping jacks, cardio (running, biking, swimming), etc. Most HIIT workouts last between 4 and 20 minutes. Many cardio cycles involve 30 seconds of high effort and 30 seconds of rest (or light effort) – commonly done by alternating sprinting and jogging or cycling hard and then lightly. HIIT can also involve doing an exercise like jumping jacks for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest. One style of HIIT called Tabata involves 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for a duration of only 4 minutes. While resting, you may do a gentler exercise (like walking) or fully rest.
Why do HIIT?
HIIT has garnered a lot of scientific studies recently and has many proven benefits. HIIT is great for busy individuals because you can benefit from a moderate-intensity 60-minute cardio session with a HIIT cardio session of only 20-30 minutes. Short sessions are much easier to fit into our busy schedules. HIIT may even be better at targeting fat cells than doing a traditional or “steady state” cardio session. HIIT can be done in the gym or at home and requires little to no special equipment. HIIT principles can be applied to any exercise to prevent getting bored with your routine. One of the greatest benefits of HIIT is its ability to help you continue to burn calories after your workout has ended. This is appropriately termed “afterburn” and is well-documented in the research.
Studies have shown that participants tend to stick with HIIT workouts long-term because there is so much variety. You can take any exercise and adapt it to a HIIT protocol – sprinting and then walking, intense biking and gentle biking, or various weight routines. Kettlebells are a great tool to build a HIIT protocol, but you do not need to buy any equipment to implement a HIIT workout successfully. Various bodyweight exercises work well with HIIT: Burpees, jump squats, jumping jacks, bear crawls, etc.
What is the catch?
The most important factor in HIIT is the intensity involved in the active period. You cannot do a light jog and then walk and call it HIIT. You need to exert serious effort during the work period. This is where the Internet really shines. There are thousands of videos on YouTube that will walk you through simple HIIT routines. The presenter will usually keep track of the work and rest periods, and many of them require no equipment whatsoever and can easily be done at home. This makes HIIT a very accessible workout regimen as you do not need to commit to any membership or gym fees to try it out. HIIT should raise your heart rate and get you sweating if you are reaching the required intensity. It is best to have dedicated HIIT or cardio days and not combine your HIIT and weight training regimens on the same day.
The other thing to watch out for with this exercise routine is to make sure you do not increase your caloric intake to match what you burn during your workouts. This is an unconscious behavior that most of us fall prey to. When we work out and burn more calories, we naturally increase our food consumption to compensate. The body is always preparing for a famine. So be very conscious about your dietary habits when starting a new exercise routine. Continue to eat a healthy, varied diet. Make sure you get enough protein and healthy fats, especially. If you feel hungry, make sure you are eating a lot of fiber in fruits and vegetables, which tend to fill the stomach better to signal satiety to the brain. You do not need to count your calories, but you should look out for this common tendency.
If you are in a good workout rhythm, do not feel the need to switch to HIIT. There are certain mental benefits that regular cardio workouts provide that HIIT does not. But if you are looking for a way to switch up your workouts, jump start your metabolism, or start a home workout routine, high-intensity interval training is a great tool to check out. HIIT and IF are a great combination to boost metabolism and fuel healthy weight loss. Eating a healthy diet is also crucial to supporting a healthy metabolism.