8 Benefits of HIIT Workouts That Will Make You Forget Boring Cardio Workouts
With more health awareness, people desire to try out new healthy drinks, diets, and workouts. Among workouts, HIIT has really become famous in recent years.
As claimed by many, the workout provides many benefits that make people crazy. But, the real question lies in whether HIIT delivers what it promises.
Here we have explored the benefits of the training to explore its validity. Also, we have picked out some HIIT programs among wider varieties.
Explore here the things you should know for your inner fitness freak.
What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, which includes a broad range of exercises and workouts. The variety may make you confused about what exactly is the HIIT workout.
HIIT is not a single form prescribed for running, exercise, or any physical activity. Instead, it can be considered a protocol consisting of a short duration of intense exercise alternating with low-intensity recovery periods. A protocol like this fits many things starting from moving battle ropes to sprinting, as long as you include alternate rest periods.
Thus the flexibility allows you to integrate your own HIIT workout into your fitness routine. But, you need to alternate work periods and recovery periods of HIIT quite well to feel its magic.
Does running too fast and then stopping naturally to gain control of breath count as HIIT?
Definitely, no! You must know how intense your exercise should be and how you should add your resting periods.
Precisely, the HIIT protocol needs you to reach 70 to 90% of your maximum heart rate during high-intensity sessions. And you need to attain 55 to 65% during periods of recovery. Reaching a high level of heart rate makes you feel breathless, and you may fail to continue a conversation.
If you feel you have enough energy to talk during workouts, you need to give your maximal effort. But maximal heart rate varies depending on age.
Subtract your age from 220. This gives an approximate maximal heart rate that you should target. Having a heart rate monitor or Fitbit definitely helps.
Every high intensity interval training set needs to have a work session and rest period. The recovery duration can be shorter, longer than, or the same as the intense activity period.
The total duration of HIIT workouts can stretch from 20 to 60 minutes, composed of alternated rest and workout periods. You can decide the duration and interval based on the exercise variety and your fitness.
Moreover, you can incorporate more than one exercise in a single workout. A single session can have 5 to 8 exercises. Each of them can have 30-60 seconds of activity with 20 to 30 seconds of recovery.
8 Benefits of HIIT
1. Burn Calories
By incorporating intense workouts, HIIT makes you burn more calories. The intense activity produces wear and tear, the repair of which makes you use calories. Further, the said workout makes you lose more calories compared to weight training or running.
2. For Burning Fat
The Washington Post looked into a 2018 meta-analysis that highlighted fat loss in 617 subjects. Moreover, the subjects reported a significant loss in abdominal, visceral, and total fat.
Notably, the workout deprives your body of oxygen during periods of intense activity. And that prompts your system to burn fat even after 1 or 2 days of your HIIT session.
3. Changes in Blood Pressure
Long duration of HIIT decreases both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. And the said impact is similar to the one exhibited by drugs prescribed for hypertension. So, people wanting to lower blood pressure can opt for the said workout.
However, HIIT workouts may not be effective for people with normal ranges of blood pressure.
4. Build or Gain Muscle Mass
In recent times, HIIT workouts have been well-known for increasing muscle mass. But workouts, in general, can help in building muscle. So, what is so special about a HIIT program?
The intense work periods provoke your body to generate fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers aid in aggressive growth and endurance.
Some experts, however, consider HIIT ineffective for muscle gain. The high intensity makes people frustrated. And if they leave the workouts, the muscle gains stop.
Precisely, how the muscle gain due to the high intensity exercise will occur differs due to the workout types. For example, traditional HIIT workouts give muscle endurance and are not much of a great choice for building muscle mass. But thanks to the flexibility of HIIT workouts, you can develop your own activities.
Also, muscle gain, if occurs, happens in the muscle areas used most during exercise training. And that mostly includes legs and trunk.
5. Anywhere and Everywhere
HIIT workouts encompass the concept of alternating intense activity with recovery, which encompasses a broader range of exercises. Thus you get the adaptability to perform HIIT workouts anywhere you want.
6. The Minimalism of HIIT Workouts
HIIT workouts involve diverse exercises which can be accomplished both with and without gym equipment. Further, you can take your pick out of many no-equipment workouts. And you can still get health benefits.
Therefore, the minimalist approach lets you HIIT your fitness goals even when you are enjoying a holiday on a far-away island.
7. Boosts Metabolism and Slows Aging
The intense workout spikes up your metabolic rates following the duration of exercise. And that makes it more effective than weight training.
Moreover, boosting metabolism eventually safeguards you from the ill effects of aging. And thus, doing HIIT enables you to stay fit and energetic and thus look younger.
8. Control of Blood Glucose Levels
The association of HIIT with improvements in insulin sensitivity makes the workout suitable for diabetic people. Further, a study recorded the blood glucose levels of participants before and following HIIT sessions.
A significant drop was noted in the glucose levels following the workouts.
Disadvantages of the HIIT Workout
High-intensity interval training is not suitable for everyone. As the name suggests, this workout is intense and stressful for your body. So, it can be difficult for you to continue this workout for a long time.
Researches and studies show that this workout to burn fat is ideal for people who have a basic level of fitness. Further, when done for long periods, it can cause unwanted body strains and injuries.
Conflicted Views on the HIIT Protocol
Yes, the protocol is effective in fast calorie burn and fat loss. But there are conflicts with this protocol as it raises the level of cortisol or stress hormone in our bodies. This hormone is further harmful to our gastrointestinal systems, causing problems like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Many people think that if you are physically exhausted after a workout regime, the session has been fruitful. That is why many people associate the physical exhaustion brought by HIIT sessions essential for weight loss. However, experts say that the journey to lose body fat is not about feeling short of breath or sweating profusely.
In addition, HIIT can never be a universal weight loss program considering the exhaustion brought by short periods of workouts. Many fitness experts also opine that popular HIIT training offered at most gyms is actually not HIIT.
Misinterpreted Ways of HIIT Delivery
The American College of Sports Medicine published a report back in 1996. Elite athletes took part in the study.
The team of athletes doing moderately intense activities could continue for 60 minutes. The exercise measured 70% of their VO2 Max or aerobic capacity. The team of athletes doing high-intensity workouts with 170% of their Vo2 Max continued for only four minutes.
The high-intensity workout team burnt more calories. But practically, reaching this 170% VO2 Max is not possible if one is not a seasoned athlete. Your body is already exhausted if your VO2 rate is 100%
In the study, the athletes achieved 70% more than the possible VO2 rate, and that seems impossible to replicate. Further, the athletes in the study could continue their workout for 4 minutes. It is impossible to continue a high-intensity workout to lose fat throughout average fitness sessions of 45 minutes.
The Limitations of HIIT Workouts
There are some limitations of high-intensity interval training. If you want to maintain your body weight or improve body composition, strength training and a good diet are better alternatives.
The slow pace strength workouts are also better than HIIT if you want to improve your stamina and endurance. In addition, HIIT workouts lack attention to motor control and mobility, increasing the chances of injury.
Furthermore, it is important to balance HIIT with lower-intensity exercise programs. The high-intensity interval training works on our sympathetic nervous system, putting our bodies in fighting mode. The low-intensity programs impart a calmer feeling by working on the parasympathetic nervous system.
Moreover, the American Council on Exercise or ACE says that low-intensity workout programs are great for active recovery. These especially help when HIIT sessions target multiple muscles of your body.
Can HIIT Exercises Be Done Every Day?
No, high-intensity interval training cannot be done every day. Being exhaustive, HIIT demands a recovery session to recuperate. Experts advise that two or three HIIT workouts in a week are good.
Doing HIIT workouts every day will prevent your muscles from recovering and growing stronger. Further, you must consider mixing up training areas or targeting muscle groups in your sessions. If you do arm exercises today, concentrate on the muscles of your right leg and left leg the next day.
Who is HIIT for?
HIIT is good for any person without injuries or medical conditions that disapprove of high-intensity workouts. In fact, HIIT is great for reducing blood pressure levels and improving cardiac health. However, based on age, HIIT can be anything, including power walks on treadmills, Jumping Jacks, Jumping Rope, etc.
Which Category is Unfit for HIIT Training?
There are many people for whom HIIT can be harmful. Along with injured people, women who are pregnant or in 3-6 months of postpartum should stay away from HIIT. Further, people with immunity-related and cardiac problems should not take part in HIIT.
Also, HIIT is not for you if you have recently undergone a cardiac or any other surgery. Patients suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia should not consider taking part in HIIT. Urinary incontinence, pelvic prolapse, and pelvic floor weakness are other problems where HIIT is not allowed.
Most importantly, it can be dangerous to take part in HIIT without proper knowledge and prior experience.
Also, many find HIIT workouts unsuitable for daily life because of the high chances of over-training. People leave the training deeming it unsustainable.
So, if you feel overworked, consult with your personal trainer. You don’t have to perform high-intensity interval training if you don’t enjoy it or feel obligated. Traditional moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking, dancing, or gardening sounds just as fun and healthy.
How to Prep Yourself for the HIIT Workout?
Being intensive in nature, HIIT demands proper preparations. So, here’s a quick rundown on how you will prepare yourself for a HIIT session.
Sleep is extremely important if you want to prepare your body for extensive workouts. A good sleep of 7-8 hours will help your body to recover and regenerate essential elements for functioning well.
Work on Your Eating Habits
Say goodbye to processed food if you really want to join HIIT. Incorporate more and more naturally sourced food into your daily diet. Your diet should also be protein-rich to reduce the augmented level of cortisol.
An insulin spike can further fight this high level of cortisol or stress hormone running in your body after workouts. You can have simple carbs with a high glycemic index.
Try to Focus
It is better to meditate or do some yoga before you join the HIIT classes. It will keep your mind relaxed and focused, preparing you for an intense session.
Further, it’s not that you will wake up from sleep and start doing HIIT exercises. Warm up your body by taking a walk, jogging, or some aerobic activities before you start HIIT sessions. These warm-up activities will reduce the chances of injury.
8 Examples of High-Intensity Workouts
1. Mountain Climbers
The Mountain Climbers exercises are like replicating the act of climbing a mountain on the floor. You will need to get into a plank position where your shoulders are over the wrists. Ensure that your hands are a little wider than the width of your shoulders.
The workouts also involve driving your knees to your chest fast. This action is similar to how we do while running quickly.
Suppose you drive your right knee to your chest once. In the next turn, you will drive your left knee to the chest. Thus, you will repeat the process.
2. Jumping Jacks
In Jumping Jacks, you will need to keep your feet at least “hip-width apart.” You should look straight and keep your shoulders relaxed. Then, take a jump where your legs are spread shoulder-width apart or beyond in the air.
It’s a full-body exercise where you need to move your hands up and down over the head along with jumping.
3. HIIT Exercise Bike
You can use exercise bikes in many ways in HIIT workouts. The time varies depending on how you incorporate the bike.
Alternate your time with a light pedal and pedaling with full effort.
Burpee, a great option for HIIT, includes a blend of three exercises, including the squat, push up and jump. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Then lower your body as if you are reaching for a seat in a chair. After lowering your body, place your hands on the ground. Then take a push-up position supporting your weight with your hands and toes.
With elbows bent and lowered chest, perform a push-up. Then lift your body back up with your arms in an extended position. Take the initial standing position and perform a vertical jump.
On landing, start the whole cycle again. Perform as many reps as you can in your scheduled time.
5. Jumping Rope
You can include jumping rope exercises in whichever you want since there are several variations.
6. Push Ups
You can find these old classics included in varieties like HIIT, circuit training, or daily fitness routine. It is important to keep your spine straight during performing pushups.
7. Russian Twist
This exercise with an intriguing name engages your core and leg muscles and thus helps in improving their health. The Russian twist starts with sitting on the floor and keeping your legs in a straight position.
Then lean back without slouching. Take a V shape with your legs and torso. Twist your torso portion slowly without disrupting the position of your legs.
8. Lunge Jumps
Your legs should be kept shoulder-width apart while doing lung jumps. It is known for high-calorie expenditure.
You should keep your spine straight and put a leg forward. Then, you need to jump in the air and land, putting the other foot in front.
Where To Get Complete HIIT Workout Programs
Best Beginner-Friendly Program: Bodyweight Burn
This digital program contains workouts that can be performed at home without the hassle of buying or handling costly equipment. The provided exercises based on the principles of HIIT are highly effective for burning more calories and building muscle strength.
Further, the program comes with a nutrition guide. That gives a comprehensive way to accomplish your fitness goals.
>>Related Article: BodyWeight Burn Reviews 2022: Does it Really Work?
Effectively Activates Anabolic Switch: Primal Gains
Ancient hunters had no problem maintaining a high muscle mass. And thus, they faced no problem in maintaining a sculpted look.
But, people at present, thanks to their lifestyle, lack well-defined physical features. That happens because we fail to activate our anabolic switch.
Worry not, Primal Gains brings techniques to activate the anabolic switch that exists in your body. The manual provides you with effective ways to get the physique of your dreams. Also, the manual gives instructions for high intensity exercises and an effective diet to ease and sustain your body in an active and healthy state.
Helps Build Muscle and Boost Metabolism: Aaptiv
This app includes fitness programs for a variety of physical activities, including HIIT. Further, the audio and video approaches let you effectively sink into your exercise training.
Apart from offering a free trial, Aaptiv gives personalized programs. Interestingly, the app gives a challenge feature that motivates subscribers to achieve fitness goals.
>>Related Article: Aaptiv Review 2022: Does This Fitness Program Really Work?
Produces “Work Horse” Strength”: Time Volume Training
This program will impress you with its great variety. Here, you will get 7 programs for 7 different fitness goals, including fat loss and strength building, to name a few.
Further, there are 13 variations for physical training. The great variety, along with easy instructions, aid in developing a proper HIIT routine.
>>Related Article: Time-Volume Training Review 2022: Does it Work?
HIIT workouts having short periods of intense activity alternated with recovery periods have become quite popular. But, before jumping into the craze, ensure you have proper fitness capacity to sustain periods of intense activity no matter how short it is. Take help from a certified personal trainer to guide you through your HIIT journey.
Coming to benefits, HIIT has lots of them. Starting from improving blood pressure to burning calories, the workout has got you covered.
Notably, you can look into many sources like digital programs, apps, and books to ease your way into the HIIT workout.
We would like to recommend Bodyweight Burn. The said digital program gives you workouts based on HIIT principles. Also, the included nutrition guide lets you take full-fledged care of your health goals.
HIIT Workouts FAQs
Is HIIT a Cardio Workout?
HIIT incorporates cardio workouts, and thus, they are cardiac-focused. But, they don’t have similarities with steady-state cardio and thus cannot be deemed as a traditional cardio workout.
Unlike HIIT, cardio lacks high-intensity work periods that make you go out of breath. Instead, cardio involves comparatively longer activity periods that increase heart rate and blood flow while engaging larger muscle groups. Common examples of cardio training include jogging or long-distance swimming.
Do You Need to Follow any Diet Restrictions while Continuing with HIIT Training?
Continuing with any type of workout requires you to stay well-nourished and hydrated to avoid dizziness during exercise. As with HIIT, you don’t need to follow any specific diet.
But, you need to eat well following the HIIT exercises. And post-HIIT meals matter more owing to the intensity of the workout. You don’t need to eat anything before the exercise as long as you have enough energy to sustain intense workouts.
Do You Need to Follow any Strict Rules during HIIT Sessions?
The strictness of a HIIT session lies in following the range of intense exercise alternated with rest periods. You should neither take very long intervals of recovery nor skip recovery. Moreover, notice the intensity at which you are exercising.
The exercise periods are already short, so there’s no point in wasting these being sluggish or limpy. But approaching the intensity as a fitness amateur can be tough, so start with your fitness journey with doable alternatives. Then once you master or get comfy with alternatives and increase your fitness, you can start with HIIT.