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What Is HIIT And Why Is It So Popular?

Updated on September 15, 2014

What does HIIT mean?

You may have seen your gym advertise HIIT training or seen an article in a magazine mention its benefits but what exactly does it mean and what does it involve?

For starters, HIIT is an abbreviation of High-Intensity Interval Training - short, interval based training programs and exercise workouts focused primarily on intervals of brief yet intense exercise followed by cool down or recovery periods. HIIT uses anaerobic exercise to help build speed and strength and is increasingly being used in the new health scene to promote weight loss in an easily accessible format; exercises are attractively short, normally between 10-30 minutes in length.

HIIT training is known to help build speed and strength.
HIIT training is known to help build speed and strength. | Source

What can you expect from a basic HIIT workout?

  • High-intensity, heart rate building exercises
  • Varied and ranging exercises; think squats, jumping jacks, skipping and boxing
  • Quick and easy workout
  • Results - if you put the work in and follow a routine, you'll be amazed at what you can achieve

  • Benefits equivalent to a traditional 2 1/2 hour exercise session
  • Research shows just 2 weeks of HIIT can improve fitness on par with up to 8 weeks of endurance training (McMaster University, Ontario, 2011)
  • HIIT is said to improve your human growth hormone in the period following your workout, stimulating cell growth, repair and reproduction

How and why it works

You may think it all sounds too good to be true and it's understandable with multiple 'fast fixes' available readily but rarely with lasting results, but the truth is in the science and method of the exercises used. Combining high-intensity exercise with a balanced and nutritionally enriched diet helps to preserve muscle whilst burning fat, efficiently resulting in weight-loss. Pushing yourself to your limit in short bursts greatly improves your heart's overall health, rounding cardiovascular fitness and maximising oxygen intake, resulting in furthered cardio-respiratory fitness.


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The ease of HIIT

One of the most attractive aspects of HIIT is how easy it is to incorporate daily exercise into everyday life. It's not a case of dragging yourself to the gym or following a lengthy exercise DVD, HIIT can be done in short, 10 minute sessions or slightly longer, approx. 30 minute bouts.

With social media and online blogs at the forefront of the World Wide Web it's easy to find a great workout session regardless of time constraints and responsibilities.


What's Your Preferred Short Burst Exercise?

HIIT is increasingly attractive due to its able-to-do-anywhere qualities. Burpees, low plank, squats, lunges and high kicks can all be added into a routine - no equipment is needed. Find some space and get going! What would your first choice mini exercise be?

Pick your favourite move

See results

HIIT summed up

  • Life can be hectic but shouldn't and doesn't have to prevent you from keeping fit and healthy. HIIT allows anyone to keep active, catering for those with busy lifestyles by providing an accessible and gym-free workout.
  • Enjoy your training. Often, the gym can leave you feeling restrained by opening hours and workouts not suited to your style. HIIT can be catered to your ability and requirements from the comfort of your home.
  • Some find running and other forms of cardio fitness laborious and tiring over time. HIIT makes cardio fun and fierce. Think, more energy, less fat and a healthier heart.
  • 10-approx. 30 minute workouts
  • Great results


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