HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training
Author: Geraldine Horan, Naturopath
The Smartest way to keep fit and burn fat all day. Become fitter in 4 to 30 minutes a day.
What is HIIT?
HIIT exercise sessions usually consist of a warm up period, then several repetitions of high-intensity exercise alternating with medium intensity exercise. For recovery, finishing with a cool down period. The high-intensity exercise should be done at near maximum intensity. The medium exercise should be about 50% intensity.
The number of repetitions and length of each depends on the exercise, but a common formula involves a 2:1 work to recovery interval and can vary from 4 to 30 minutes duration, depending on cardiovascular fitness. So, it is an excellent way to maximize a workout that is limited on time and can be adjusted to different fitness levels. Using a timer to track the rounds accurately, is recommended. And you don’t need to use expensive equipment to achieve these results, even running on the spot works to get your heart rate up fast!
A specific example in 10 minutes a day!
In a Canadian study, the specific exercises performed during the high-intensity portions varied, when using a stationary bike. Each session consisted of three 20-second “flat-out” pedalling intervals, followed by two minutes of slow, easy pedalling. The riders also started with a warm up for two minutes and cooled down for three, with a total of 10 minutes of exercise time, equalling only one minute of the intense interval training. By doing this 3 times a week, for 6 weeks, benefits in blood pressure, cardiovascular fitness and in mitochondria production (the energy “power packs” in each cell) were noted(1). So, in only 3 minutes per week of intense workout, these results were achieved.
Health Benefits of HIIT
Health benefits of HIIT are improved cardiovascular fitness, including the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can use. Improvements were found in insulin resistance and blood sugar control, which are important for reducing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes and contribute to bad “belly fat” metabolic syndrome.
Menopausal women are finding a rapid reduction in menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, in only a few weeks of HIIT training.
HIIT burns fat, not muscle, unlike regular cardio exercise and has an “anti-aging” effect for a full 24 hours after exercising, thanks to the 4 ½ times increase in human growth hormone production.
The great news is that even after exercising, the fat burning effects carry on for a full 24 hours more,
Before You Start
Of course, if you have any health concerns, you should also contact your medical practitioner before commencing a new exercise regime. It is also important not to exceed your maximum capacity, as it may produce the stress hormone cortisol, which will encourage laying down of “belly fat” and reduce the benefits of HIIT.
1. Gillen JB, Percival ME, Skelly LE, Martin BJ, Tan RB, Tarnopolsky MA, et al. Three Minutes of All-Out Intermittent Exercise per Week Increases Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity and Improves Cardiometabolic Health. Hayashi N, editor. PLoS One [Internet]. 2014 Nov 3 [cited 2017 Feb 15];9(11):e111489. Available from: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111489