Why You Should Start Doing HIIT

Vanessa Broadley, January 12, 2017
Why You Should Start Doing HIIT

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, it a type of workout that involves combining intense exercise - 80 to 90 percent of your heart's maximal rate - with rest activities at around 40 to 50 percent of your heart's maximal rate. In any given workout, you usually perform anywhere from three to 10 repetitions of this pattern, although the number of reps vary depending on your level of fitness, the activities you are doing, and your personal preferences.

How to Structure an HIIT Workout

HIIT has been one of the two most popular exercise trends since 2014. Many reasons account for this, but the top one is probably convenience. HIIT can be done either indoors or outdoors and with or without specialized equipment. It provides intense, Short workouts.

HIIT workouts are generally considered safe, but they do place a great demand on the heart. If you are just getting started and have been living a sedentary lifestyle, or if you have a family or personal history of heart problems, check with your doctor before getting started with your new routine. His or her guidance, plus your own efforts, can help Improve heart health.

When you're ready to start your workout, take a light jog and do a few stretches to warm up. Then launch into your intense exercise mode. This could be any activity that increases your heart rate. Running, swimming, biking and push ups are all good examples. The length of your intense program can last up to three minutes, but around 40 seconds is probably a good goal.

Then go into the rest phase of your routine when you cut back on the intensity and let your heart rate drop to lower levels. The rest phase usually lasts half the time of your intense phase. For instance, if you ran as hard as you could for 40 seconds, you would run more slowly for the next 20 seconds. Then you would resume your faster pace, and so on.

Because it does require a real effort from your heart, you can complete the entire workout in about 30 minutes. Once you have completed your reps, be sure to spend some time with light jogging or walking to cool down. Most people do HIIT one to three times per week to allow the body to rest and heal.

Common Mistake: Skipping the Resting Phase

Some people who start HIIT make the mistake of forgetting that the whole point of the routine is intervals. They want to cut out the resting phase altogether and just do Intense workouts. After all, if 40 seconds of intense exercise is good, 80 should be even better, right? Not exactly.

The high-intensity and the resting phases of the routine are actually two different types of exercise. High intensity workouts are anaerobic. In other words, your body's demand for oxygen actually exceeds the supply. Anaerobic exercise burns carbohydrates. Aerobic, exercise, or the resting phase, burns body fats. Effective Cardio for fat loss requires both types of exercise.

Doing interval training as opposed to steady cardio training increases Cardiovascular endurance. This is because of holding just one steady rhythm, HIIT forces the heart to beat quickly, more slowly, and then quickly again. It strengthens the heart muscle, just as weight-lifting strengthens the muscles in the arms.

HIIT and the Metabolism

Researchers have found several benefits to HIIT. As discussed above, interval training puts a healthy stress on the cardiovascular system. It can lower blood pressure and resting heart rate. It can also increase endurance.

Another benefit of HIIT is that it improves the metabolism and assists with weight loss. The metabolism is a set of chemical processes that occur internally to keep the body alive. The pancreas producing insulin, for instance, is a metabolic process.

The way HIIT routines boost metabolism is interesting. If you measure the number of calories burned during a steady workout against the number of calories burned during an HIIT workout, you'll find that more calories were actually burned during the steady workout. However, even though people doing HIIT burn fewer calories per workout, they actually lose more fat.

According to an article on Dr. Axe, researchers performed blood tests on the two exercise groups and found that the HIIT subjects produced more of a chemical the builds Lean muscle mass. They also produced more of two chemicals that destroy fatty tissues. HIIT has also proven effective for diabetics who suffer from weight gain due to the body's inability to produce or use insulin.

The Afterburn Effect: A Bonus of HIIT

The Afterburn effect, also known as the Excess Post-Exercise Consumption or EPOC, is the period of time the body takes to return to its original resting state. During this time, your body needs extra oxygen. It also needs time to cool down and to repair any tissues that suffered minor tears or strains. As this settling down process occurs, the body continues to burn calories at a higher rate than normal.

EPOC can last between one hour and up to 48 hours depending on the type of exercise you've been doing. People who do HIIT burn more calories post-workout than people doing other types of exercise. EPOC may account for some of the weight loss that people doing HIIT experience.

The the length of EPOC also depends upon the amount of damage your body must repair. Because neglected minor injuries can quickly become serious, it's a good idea to respect your body's natural processes and wait at least two full days between HIIT routines.

It's no surprise that exercise helps with weight control and improved health. What has surprised people recently is that high-intensity interval training appears to have even more health benefits than the traditional, steady exercise routines. People who choose HIIT experience improved cardiac functioning, positive metabolic changes, and greater loss of fat.

If you've been looking for a promising exercise routine that won't take up a lot of time or money, talk to your doctor about HIIT. Getting started can be a challenge, so it may help to join a gym or find one or more exercise buddies so you can all encourage each other as you experience the benefits of HIIT.

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