High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Get More Fit by Exercising less

When it comes to weight and general health, there’s no question that exercise plays a vital role. How much exercise you need to do to see the results on the scale? Or even get fitter? The answer may surprise you. In a nutshell, while more is good, less may actually be better, depending on the situation, which could be good news for the time-crunched individuals.

For adults, the guidelines recommend logging 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. (At least two days of strength training is also prescribed).If people want to achieve even more health benefits, they are encouraged to perform up to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Yet getting people to log even minimum amounts of activity remains a challenge.

Numerous obstacles keep people from exercising, but one of the most cited is lack of time. In a survey around 40% of the respondents admitted that lack of time kept them from meeting their fitness goals. So what’s the answer? Enter one of the most popular less-is-more solutions; High-intensity-interval-training (HIIT), which is periods of relatively intense effort alternated with active recovery.

Get Intense to Get Lean

“HIIT is demanding, so demanding that you have to mentally gear up for it”. The typical HIIT workout lasts between 15 to 20 minutes and often alternates between 30 seconds of all-out Intensity- Believe me ''it’s the longest 30 seconds of your life'', and 4 minutes of recovery repeated 4 or 5 times.

Although weight loss hasn’t been the focus because they’re relatively short, lasting only six to eight weeks, people usually do lose small amounts of weight and experience some change in body composition. Another bonus? “Evidence also shows that HIIT may be more effective at targeting abdominal fat than steady-state endurance workouts”.

Doing HIIT can also get people fitter in just a matter of minutes. After just a few weeks of doing HIIT, your heart is a stronger pump, your muscles are better at using the oxygen that’s being delivered, and you are generally less fatigued doing physical activity.

For starters, even though the workout duration is relatively short, the effort level is high, which means the people are burning a good number of calories. Then there is a post-workout calorie burn. The after-burn of HIIT is comparable to more traditional cardio work outs.

Designing a HIIT Workout

  • HIIT can be used with any cardio activity, but for the people who have joint issues, veer toward low-impact activities like swimming or cycling versus running.
  • General rule of thumb: The shorter the work period the harder you will have to work.
  • One of the easiest-to-configure HIIT workout alternates between one minute of hard work followed by one minute of active recovery repeated 10 times.

How many HIIT workouts you do depend on the preferences and goals, but generally, more than two per week is pretty demanding.

HIIT, though, isn’t only effective for cardiovascular exercise; it can also be used with circuit strength training, High-intensity circuit-training (HICT). The workout, which is based on HIIT, consists of 12 aerobic and body-weight resistance exercises performed for 30 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. At the correct intensity, a single 7 minute circuit, performed regularly on three non-consecutive days a week can provide moderate aerobic and muscular fitness benefits.

Putting Together a HICT workout

If you are interested in HICT workout, especially if you travel and want a quick workout on the road, follow these guidelines,

  • Sequence resistance exercises to allow muscle groups to recover: This will ensure that exercises are performed with quality and with minimal rest between exercises. For instance, do a lower-body exercise followed by an upper-body exercise and then a core exercise and repeat from top. Or do a lower-body, upper-body’’push’’ exercise, upper-body’’pull’’ exercise, a core exercise and then repeat the sequence.
  • Add aerobic training to the sequence to increase cardiovascular training and total caloric output. Think jumping jacks, running in place or mountain climbers.
  • Make the rest period between the exercises as short as possible.
  • Use a variety of exercises. ’variety is important for long-term fitness improvement’.
  • Don’t forget the warm-up, which should focus on dynamic movements, and the cool-down.

Repeat this 7 minute circuit 2 to 3 times on three non-consecutive days a week.

Do that and you’ll have accumulated almost 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise, which would be enough to meet guidelines for aerobic activity. The key, of course, remains intensity, as the shorter the work out, the greater the intensity needs to be. But going at full-out intensity might be best for people who have achieved at least an intermediate fitness level.

How these workouts fit into Traditional Exercise Programs

So does all of this mean there’s no need any more for more traditional cardio and strength workouts? Are more frequent exercise sessions unnecessary? Absolutely not, as all of them still hold the merit, especially if you are an endurance athlete, interested in powerlifting or body building, or individuals who just enjoy exercising. If you have the time and desire, do a combination of HIIT, Longer cardio workouts and strength training. It just depends on what your goals are and how much time you have to devote to exercise. On the other hand, working harder for shorter amounts of time or decreasing the workout frequency could be an effective strategy for individuals who want to lose or maintain weight, as well as get fit, but lack the time or motivation for longer workouts. Just keep in mind that, because HIIT and HICT workouts are designed to be intense, you will have to tailor the intensity according to the needs and with new exercisers.

The upshot of all these new findings? It’s all about working smarter and harder, not necessarily longer, which could help motivate people who want to control weight and get fit. Start-and stick with-exercise.

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