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HIIT What is is it and what are the benefits of doing it?

High Intensity Interval Training ( HIIT ), sometimes known as Tabata has become more and more popular as a way to workout. It consists of a number of cycles of high intensity effort followed by less intense periods of recovery. The effort phases can range anything from 5 seconds to 8 minutes and are performed at 80% to 95% of an individual's maximal heart rate. The recovery periods can be as long or shorter than the effort phase and are generally within the 40% to 50% of the person's maximal heart rate. The total workout duration is based on how many cycles of rest and recovery there are and how many are to be performed.

So then why is this form of training so popular and what are the many fitness benefits?

1. Calorie Expenditure - HIIT is a very efficient way of burning calories. The reason for this is twofold; firstly the high intensity effort requires a large amount of calories to perform the work. Secondly and as importantly the body will continue to burn increased calories for some hours post workout. This is due to Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption ( EPOC ) which is the body's natural response to training as it returns to it's natural state after exercise. The EPOC for HIIT training is far higher than a simple steady state workout. Essentially this is increased calories being burned even when you have finished working out!

2. Boosts Endurance and VO2 Max - The bouts of high intensity effort will help to increase overall cardiovascular fitness, conditioning and performance. This leads to the improved ability to carry out more moderate or longer duration workouts. In addition improving VO2 max through HIIT training will mean that the body is more able to cope with higher levels of exertion with less effort.

3. Time Efficient - For those who either don't enjoy working out or struggle to find time, then HIIT is certainly the way forward. Numerous studies have proven that greater results can be achieved in far less time using HIIT or Tabatas in comparison to longer duration steady state training.

4. Flexibility of methods - HIIT training can be done using a variety of methods. Whilst many associate this type of training with just running sprints, this is certainly not the case. Running, rowing,swimming, cycling and bodyweight moves can all be utilised for HIIT sessions. This variety means that it's a great way of achieving an all body workout and fitness gains without the need to repeat the same style of session every time.

5. Heart Health - Increased pressure on the arteries and veins through HIIT training is proven to make them more flexible and have greater elasticity which in turn leads to a healthier heart and vascular system overall.

6. Muscle Gain and Fat Loss - Unlike long duration steady state training, HIIT actually boosts Human Growth Hormone which is essential for the building of muscle. Increases in these hormones also promote fat loss and a healthy and balanced body composition.

7. Reduction in the symptoms of many health issues - Extensive medical studies and research have proven that HIIT can dramatically improve Abdominal Obesity, Elevated Blood Pressure, Blood Fat Disorders, Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Disease to name just a few.

8. Longer Term Exercise Adherence - HIIT fitness sessions can be more fun than tedious long steady state training sessions. As they are more fun, shorter in duration and achieve greater results it is no surprise that more people adhere longer to these type of workouts.

When you weigh up all the facts and understand all the benefits, including High Intensity Interval Training workouts are a must to achieving your health and fitness goals.

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