Why You Should Be Doing HIIT
HIIT (high intensity interval training) has proven to be incredibly effective in weight loss. This type of interval training involves short bursts of intense activity which greatly increase the heart rate, followed by short rest periods. The continuous intervals of intense activity and rest periods are repeated; approximately 10-20 minutes of these intervals is sufficient for receiving the described benefits. It is an effective tool for burning fat because it burns a sufficient amount of calories in a short amount of time, boosts the metabolism, enhances muscle tone without decreasing muscle mass, and improves athletic performance. If you find it hard to get solid workouts in with a busy schedule, hate long stretches of cardio, want to mix up your workouts, or don't have access to a gym, HIIT may be for you.
How to perform HIIT
One of the great things about HIIT is that there are countless ways to perform interval training. So if you find yourself getting bored very easily, this is a great way to exercise! If you love nature and the outdoors, take your cardio outside and do sprints along your favorite trail or hill! You can follow the sprints with brief, active walking intervals (ex: 30 second sprint, 45 second walk). If you enjoy your time on a treadmill, that is a great place to do some sprint intervals. The same idea of sprints can be applied on a bike, elliptical, or in water if you would like to relieve stress from joints. You can even incorporate low weight, high rep weight training into your intervals. Essentially any exercise in which your heart rate is sufficiently raised for a burst of time then lowered for a burst of time is considered interval training. So get creative! Generally, anywhere from 10-20 minutes of interval training is plenty.
The workout that burns calories hours after you're finished
A little known fact about HIIT is that this kind of training can actually aid the body in burning calories for up to 24-48 hours after the workout is completed. Intense interval training boosts the body's metabolism. While this is not an excuse to binge eat every time you complete an interval workout, it is very helpful to those trying to lose weight (and to those who have little slip ups in their diets). The body's continued expenditure of calories is due to the body's need to consume more oxygen after an intense workout, and can also be known as excess post exercise consumption (EPOC).
Never get bored in the gym again
HIIT is a great way to create interesting, new workouts to avoid boredom. When people get bored of doing hours on the treadmill or spin bike, etc, it can lead to the eventual cessation of cardio altogether. Since there are essentially endless ways to practice interval training, there are always new ways to mix up workouts. For example, you can practice swimming intervals in lieu of the treadmill one day. You can go through a full body kettle bell workout or bodyweight circuit. There's no need for fancy equipment or even a gym membership to stay fit.
Short on time? HIIT may be perfect for you!
It has been proven that you can burn more calories by doing 10-20 minutes of interval training than doing an hour of low intensity cardio. The intervals (if you're pushing yourself hard enough, of course), are intense enough that you simply burn more calories in a shorter time frame. If you can't seem to find time to push through hour long workouts, interval training is a perfect way to get in a solid workout without running out of time for other priorities.
Why top athletes choose HIIT
HIIT requires more agility, speed, and power than lower intensity forms of cardio,and therefore increases one's athleticism. Intense full body workouts not only improve endurance, but also overall athletic performance. There has been speculation that hours of low intensity cardio can have a catabolic effect on muscle mass, which means that the muscles are being broken down. HIIT does not have this effect; in fact, interval training can increase muscle growth when resistance training is involved in the workout.
Of course, interval training is very intense, so athletes that train this way should be very careful and aware of their movements. It is much easier to injure oneself while doing all out incline sprints than while jogging 4 mph. Once athletes can be sure they are performing all movements correctly and safely, interval training is simply one of the most beneficial forms of training out there, and can suit practically every individuals' needs. Obviously, no real results can be seen from HIIT alone; exercise must be paired with a clean diet and other healthy lifestyle habits. However, this training method can be a tremendously helpful tool in athletes' physical goals.