High-Intensity Interval Training
What Is It?
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, refers to short bursts of exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. Studies show that HIIT is one of the most effective ways to exercise because of its fat-burning efficiency. HIIT workouts are made up of a series of “rounds.” One round, for example, could consist of 20 seconds of vigorous pedaling on a bicycle followed by 40 seconds of low resistance pedaling. (Other HIIT activities include jumping rope, sprinting, lunges, stair-stepping, and more. You can turn most exercises into HIIT as long as they are suitable for high intensity.) Rounds are usually repeated for 10-30 minutes. Those who are just beginning HIIT could start with 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by a couple minutes of low-intensity exercise. There are various levels of HIIT intensity and it’s okay to start small.
How Does it Work?
The heart rate’s continual rise and fall throughout HIIT leads the body to believe it must be prepared for anything, causing it to experience excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. This means that even after you finish exercising, your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate than normal, making HIIT very effective for fat loss. Evidence suggests that HIIT is better at quickening the metabolism than doing solely cardio or weightlifting. (These exercise forms are still excellent and should be engaged in regularly, but it is beneficial to mix them up with HIIT.) Other health benefits of HIIT include muscle gain, reduced blood pressure, and reduced blood sugar (which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes ).
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- During HIIT workouts, the low intensity periods should not be a complete cessation of movement—make sure to engage in “active recovery”, such as “pedaling less vigorously” as mentioned in the earlier example. This will allow lactic acid to be flushed out of your muscles.
- Consistency is key when it comes to HIIT. If you start your workout too strong and can’t maintain the intensity throughout, it’s going to be less beneficial. It’s better to start off at a pace that may feel too easy at first but feels gradually more difficult as the workout progresses.
- Don’t engage in HIIT every single day. Your body should have at least two rest days. Rest does not mean you should not exercise at all. You can engage in lower-intensity workouts such as yoga.
What’s your favorite way to exercise?