HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is still a relatively new phenomenon in the fitness world, some people claim it is the quickest and most efficient way to lose fat fast, while others still prefer going for a light jog or a walk.
What Is HIIT
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, which means you perform a high intensity interval (+80% max heart rate) followed by a low intensity interval. The most common HIIT technique is a 30 second sprint followed by a 1 minute walk. The intervals are usually repeated for 10-15 minutes. A light warm up is recommended due to the increased chance of injury associated with high intensity activity, a 5-10 minute warm down is also recommended.
Benefits Of HIIT Over Traditional Cardio:
EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption
Also known as “the after-burn”, in recovery, oxygen EPOC is used in the processes that restore the body to a resting state and adapt it to the exercise just performed. These include: hormone balancing, replenishment of fuel stores, cellular repair, innervation and anabolism. Post-exercise oxygen consumption replenishes the phosphagen system. EPOC burns extra calories up to 48 hours after your HIIT session, depending how hard your HIIT session was. One experiment found EPOC increasing metabolic rate to an excess level that decays to 13% three hours after exercise, and 4% after 16 hours. So performing HIIT can help you burn more calories all day long even when you’re not exercising, which will help you shed fat faster.
HIIT dramatically increases growth hormone, catecholamines and epinephrine. These are all fat-incinerating hormones, that have been shown to enhance fat mobilization release from both subcutaneous and intramuscular fat stores. To maximize hormone release don’t eat carbohydrates 1-2 hours before your workout, the insulin response from carbohydrates will limit the growth hormone release. Growth hormone puts the brakes on the body’s primary fat storage enzyme Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL).
Very Time Efficient
HIIT is very time efficient, most workouts are anywhere from 12-25 minutes long, as opposed to traditional cardio, which are usually 45-90 minutes long.
Can Be Done Anywhere, With Any Equipment
HIIT can be done in and outside the gym. The most popular form of HIIT is sprinting, which can be done on the pavement, the football pitch, or on the running track. A more intense version of that, is hill sprints, where sprinting up the hill is followed by a light jog down.
Other HIIT methods include kettlebell swings, skipping, squats, high jumps and spinning.
Increased Vo2 Max
VO2 max (also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake or maximal aerobic capacity) is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. HIIT is known to increase an individuals vo2 max much faster than traditional cardio. If you are an athlete, increasing your vo2 max is essential.
Conditions Both Aerobic and Anaerobic Systems
While performing the high intensity portion of the workout (sprinting) you are working the anaerobic system, while performing the low intensity portion (walking) you are working the aerobic system. By working both systems you burn glucose and fat, getting the best of both worlds.
Your Metabolism Won’t Adapt To HIIT
Our bodies are built for survival. A 30 minute jog that burns 400 calories probably won’t burn the same amount of calories 6 months later. Your body will adapt to the activity and use its fuel more efficiently, which means it will burn less calories, and you will reach a fat loss plateau quickly.
HIIT on the other hand is unpredictable and there are so many variables, such as equipment and interval length.