High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a fairly new concept where you perform an exercise at a very high intensity for a short duration of time and then switch to a lower intensity for a longer period of time. You keep up this cycle until you reach your total training time goal – usually 15 to 30 minutes. Add in 45 minutes of strength training two to three times per week and you have an exercise routine that is proven to bring these main benefits.
HIIT is one of the fastest ways to burn off excess fat – especially belly fat. Traditional cardio training tends to release too much cortisol into your system – a hormone that promotes fat storage. But HITT keep cortisol release low.
Improve muscle tone
By mixing high intensity cardio moves with lower intensity strength training, you can build and tone muscles. For example, do jumping jacks as fast as you can for 30 seconds; then switch to lunges at a slower rate for 30 seconds. Keep up this cycle for 10 minutes with a 1-minute break between each cycle.
Because HIIT involves both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, you build endurance faster than with traditional cardio training. To prove this point, consider a recent study in Ontario Canada where one group of people did HIIT 3 times per week for 2 weeks for a total of 9 minutes.
The control group did the same training 3 times per week also, but for a total time of 5 hours. At the end of the study, each group had slightly improved their endurance – one group with only 9 minutes of exercise versus the second group with 5 hours of exercise.
After doing HIIT for a while, you’ll see an increase in your energy level. This is because high intensity training allows the mitochondria in your cells to make more energy and to work more efficiently. To make the extra energy, it has to metabolize more fat, which helps you lose weight not only while you are exercising, but for hours afterward.
You can create a HIIT program without any equipment. For example, you could run for a total of 3 miles alternating between all out sprints and brisk walking. Or run up a 100-step flight of stairs and walk back down over the course of 10 minutes. Include options at a gym and the possibilities are endless.
Regardless of your fitness goal, HIIT training can help you achieve it quicker with less time spent training.