High-Intensity Interval Training – Is HIIT Just The Hype?
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What is HIIT?
HIIT is a new name for one old workout concept—interval training. This is nothing new and is a proven method of improving performance. But, in recent years, HIIT was hyped up as the go-to method for reaching different goals, from above-mentioned performance improvements to rapid fat loss.
The concept of HIIT is doing workouts in two modes – all-in, and slower, switching back and forth, without taking breaks in between. The idea is to use the lower intensity phase as a form of active recovery, never letting your heart rate fully restore to normal. Because of this constant switching, HIIT is best done on something like a stationary bike, as it allows instant change of pace. A jump rope is another option, as well as rowing machines. A treadmill is not ideal, as it can’t accelerate instantaneously, and there’s a risk of falling and injuring yourself if you go full sprint.
But, you can also be creative, and use traditional exercises in combination, to create a HIIT workout. For example, you can combine burpees with planks, or combine high-knees with squats. A traditional form of HIIT is 30 seconds of high-intensity activity, followed by 1 minute of low-intensity. Twenty minutes of that is all that you need.
What Are The Benefits Of HIIT?
High-Intensity Interval Training has some obvious benefits:
- Time-saving – because most HIIT workouts last less than 30 minutes, the most obvious advantage is that they save you time. Because of this, they are ideal for busy people.
- Hybrid workouts – you can use HIIT for different goals, and not just for burning fat and cardio. Many CrossFit WODs are essentially HIIT, combining traditional strength exercises with interval training. That way, you combine strength with cardio, again saving time.
- HIIT is a furnace – although it lasts only 30 minutes, HIIT is one of the best ways to shed fat. What’s more interesting is that the meltdown continues for hours after exercising, as HIIT boosts your metabolic rate.
- Good for cardiovascular and respiratory health – HIIT makes your heart racing, and you gasping for air, over and over again. This will strengthen your cardiovascular system, but also improve oxygen consumption, resulting in many health benefits. It will reduce your heart rate when idle, and even blood pressure, plus improve the lung capacity.
Are There Any Flaws?
Like any form of exercising, HIIT is not perfect:
- Injury risks – because HIIT has periods of the highest possible intensity, it carries greater injury risks. When you are finishing the last cycle, it is hard to focus on proper technique. That’s why it’s best to perform HIIT in a controlled environment and on something safe like a stationary bike. It sounds boring, but it is much better to reduce injury risk.
- It’s not for everyone – if you are severely overweight or out of shape, HIIT is not for you. Yes, the stationary bike will relieve pressure on the joints, but straining yourself too hard is not a good idea, primarily if you haven’t worked out in years. For you, steady state cardio is a better option.
- Not ideal to be the only form of exercise – you should combine HIIT with other types of exercising. Both steady state cardio, and regular strength training but also flexibility drills. That’s the only way to get to the optimal levels of fitness and health.
HIIT is an excellent choice for most individuals, and we recommend you try it. Use it as a tool, in those weeks when there is simply too much work, and there is no way to squeeze in your full 1-hour workout. And use it to break the monotony of the same-old, spicing things up when you feel bored. Thirty minutes of cycling furyis all that you need to rejuvenate your dull workouts.