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Benefits Of High Intensity Interval Training

Written by Kitty Guo, Exercise Physiology Student at the University Of Sydney. Article from February 2018

Benefits Of High Intensity Interval Training 

hiit exercise

Do you ever find yourself getting bored and desperately wishing for time to move a little faster as you reach the last ten minutes of your run? Or perhaps you have a physically demanding job that prevents you from having the time and energy to exercise regularly? If that sounds like you, then you may be interested in giving high intensity interval training (HIIT) a go. The popularity of HIIT is on the rise and has helped many well-loved celebrities like Hugh Jackman achieve their ultra-fit physiques.

The idea behind HIIT is pretty simple and as the name suggests, this type of training consists of repeated bouts of high intensity work followed by low intensity recovery periods or even complete rest. Evidence based research have consistently demonstrated multitudes of health benefits that comes with HIIT and the cherry on top is that even a short ten minute session is enough to fire up your metabolism whilst burning tons of calories. If that is not enough to catch your interest, here are some other proven benefits of HIIT.

  • BOOSTS METABOLIC RATE

As mentioned previously, several studies have found HIIT to speed up your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours even after you have finished your exercise! This is because our oxygen uptake rates remain elevated for some time over resting periods post exercise. Also known as Elevated Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC for short, this phenomenon essentially keeps your body at elevated fat burning states for prolonged periods – the harder and longer your perform HIIT, the greater the effects and isn’t something you would experience from your standard cardio work out. 

  • TIME EFFICIENT

For those who have a busy schedule and are looking to squeeze in a short and efficient workout, HIIT is your best bet. Studies have shown that a mere 15 minute HIIT workout that is performed three times a week is equivalent to jogging on the treadmill for an hour. Talk about efficiency!

  • SHEDS FAT AND MAINTAINS MUSCLE

It is found that steady cardio exercises that are performed for prolonged periods although may be good for losing fat, also come with the cost of losing lean muscle mass. However as HIIT workouts often involves body weight exercises, this effectively allows for preservation of muscle – particular for those who do both cardio and are eating at a caloric deficit.

  • BUILDS A HEALTHIER HEART

The more you challenge your muscles to contract, the harder your heart works to ensure adequate amounts of blood, oxygen and nutrients is supplied to support them. Thus interval training is a great way to keep you heart healthy and active.

  • IMPROVES ENDURANCE CAPACITY

Training at high intensity allows for cellular adaptation to our muscle cells enabling our bodies to work at improved endurance levels (i.e. can exercise for longer) during any sort of physical activity. A 2011 study demonstrated 2 weeks of HIIT was able to improve an individual’s aerobic capacity as effectively as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.

  • INEXPENSIVE AND NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Another major benefit to HIIT is that a solid, heart pumping and sweat-inducing workout can be performed in the absence of any equipment. Things like running, cycling or anything plyometric like squat jumps can be performed without using any machinery or resistance bands. All that is required is yourself and perhaps some upbeat music to keep you going.

  • STIMULATES CREATIVITY

The exercises that can be included in a HIIT working are limitless and how you want to perform it is entirely up to you! Whether you prefer to work at 30seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 30seconds of rest, or repetitively perform four exercises at maximal effort within a minute each for 10-15 minutes (EMOM) is entirely up to you. Perhaps that day you would like to target legs and core more, or total body and balance, or even a mix. You are in control of how you want to design your program and there is so many things you can play around with. That is the beauty of HIIT and also what makes it so fun and addictive. You can even invite a friend to do it with you if you like.

  • CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE

HIIT is super convenient in that it can be performed in the comfort of your home, at work, at the beach or a nearby park with great scenery  – basically wherever your heart desires. Thanks to its simple concept of only requiring you to work at maximal effort for a short amount of time and alternated with brief recovery periods, you can be flexible with where and how you want to perform it.

  • CHALLENGING

This exercise regime is definitely not the type of workout you can perform leisurely whilst chatting with a friend. As you are required to be working hard during the high intensity periods it definitely becomes challenging. However by the end of it, you will be feeling strong and accomplished whilst knowing your body is already thanking you for it.

If you have never performed any HIIT workouts before here are some HIIT workout recommendations to get you started:

A) (30sec on: 30sec off) x 4 each (Can be performed at home)

  • Squat jumps/ plank
  • Mountain climbers/ push ups
  • High Knees/ Tricep dips off a chair
  • Burpees/ bicycle crunches

B) Walking/ Sprinting at a Park

  • Sprinting for 15 seconds followed by 45 seconds walking for a total of 10 minutes.

If you are interested for more HIIT inspirations please contact the experienced staff at Optimum Health Solutions for more information.

Note: it is important that you have a consultation with your doctor and have them deem it safe for you to partake in HIIT before starting. This is because the nature of this form of exercise requires your body to work in an anaerobic (oxygen depleted) state and can place major stress on your heart.


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