You may have heard about HIIT workouts before but what exactly does that mean and why are so many people talking about it? High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes a workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or short-term rest. The short bursts of intense exercise can make HIIT workouts an extremely effective way to lose weight and get fit. But that’s not the only reason why HIIT is so popular. Read on to find the top five benefits of HIIT workouts.
HIIT workouts are the ideal type of exercise for a busy schedule. At the Y, we know you have a busy lifestyle with kids, work and other activities, making going to the gym for two hours impossible. The average HIIT workout is around 30 minutes but there are types of HIIT workouts that take as little as four minutes. Research has shown that you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training than you can jogging on a treadmill for an hour. Whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break or just can’t mentally get yourself to be in the gym any longer than 30 minutes, a HIIT workout is one of the most efficient ways to get your exercise in and your heart rate up.
Do it from anywhere
HIIT workouts involve short, intense bursts of any aerobic exercise. Running, biking, jump roping, and rowing all fit into that category, but so do moves like high knees, jumping jacks or jumping rope. Anything plyometric will work just as well to get your heart rate up fast and build your endurance. One of the biggest benefits of HIIT workouts is that you don’t need any equipment to get an effective workout in. Since the concept of HIIT is really just to do maximum-intensity exercises for a short period of time and then recover for a short period, you can modify it to fit any time and space constraints and still get all the benefits!
Ideal for weight loss
One of the many reasons why HIIT workouts are so popular is because they’re extremely effective for weight loss. When trying to lose weight, you want to burn fat and build lean muscle to continue to burn more fat. HIIT has been shown to force your body to use energy from fat as opposed to carbs, helping losing fat even more efficiently. On a diet, it’s hard to lose fat while maintaining the muscle. But studies have shown that with HIIT, you can preserve those hard-earned muscles while burning the maximum amount of fat.
Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT workout than with steady cardio, but the effect of all that intense exertion keeps your body working long after you’re done with your exercise for the day. The high-intensity workout means that your body will stay in fat-burning mode for up to 24 hours after the workout, meaning you burn more fat and calories than you would after a steady-pace run.
Increase in metabolism
In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIIT workouts stimulate the production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450% during the 24 hours after your workout. This, in turn, increases your metabolism in the short-term and after consistent HIIT workouts, increases your overall metabolic rate. An improved rate of metabolism makes it less likely for you to gain weight. A healthy metabolic system can rid toxins from your body more efficiently and also, as mentioned above, burn calories even after you finished with your HIIT session. Doing a HIIT workout kick starts your body’s metabolism to a level that the fat burning effects last hours after the session have finished.
Improve heart health
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of HIIT workouts is improving your cardiovascular health. In general, people aren’t used to pushing themselves into the anaerobic zone. HIIT workouts get you there in short bursts while mixing in rest time, to strengthen your heart and oxygen consumption. HIIT workouts have been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels.
If you feel like your weight loss or fitness journey has plateaued, consider giving HIIT workouts a try. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati has a variety of different HIIT classes to help you get started, as well as online video resources. To get a more personalized plan, meet with one of our certified personal trainers, and kickstart your health and fitness journey with the Y today.