Why you should add HIIT into your workout routine
HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is one of my favorite ways to train. It isn’t simply because I enjoy this type of training most, but because I see the best results when I incorporate this into my routine. Growing up as a soccer player, I was used to being tested on my one and two mile times. I also performed distance running in track and field in middle and high school. Although I was always active, training, and practicing, my body was not where I wanted it to be in regards to lean muscle mass. I still carried fat and my muscles were bulky during certain seasons.
After starting to pursue a more balanced and healthier lifestyle once I graduated college, I began doing HIIT one to two times a week. After about 8 weeks of this, I noticed significant changes in my body composition. Fat seemed to melt from my arms, thighs, and stomach. I saw lean and defined muscles - that which I never thought I could achieve. After about two years of using HIIT, I was hooked, and wanting to know why this type of workout was successful in helping me achieve my goals.
After research and much learning, I found the reason HIIT style workouts are so effective!
Burns more fat than cardio
HIIT shifts the body’s metabolism to burn fat over carbohydrates for energy. The intense exercises actually “teach” the muscles to use fat as the ideal source of energy. This is what helps lean your body composition. A 1994 20-week study showed that endurance training burned more than double the calories during training than HIIT; however, the fat loss did not follow the same way. The HIIT group saw significantly higher loss of body fat than the endurance group. The interval training reined supreme for fat loss. “The interval trainees got nine times the fat loss for every calorie burned during training.” (Tremblay, Simoneau, & Bouchard 1994). Hello, did you read that right? NINE TIMES the fat loss than endurance training. I think that in and of itself is enough reason to start doing HIIT workouts.
HIIT isn’t only just for the younger age groups. The older population (65-80 year olds) can also greatly benefit from HIIT. A study concluded that in just three months, there was a 69% increase in their maximum capacity to burn fat. Talk about huge numbers! HIIT is also known to reduce unhealthy visceral fat that surrounds your organs.
burns calories longer
HIIT increases your metabolic rate for many hours even after exercise! This is also known as the “afterburn effect” in which your metabolism remains elevated for a long period of time post training. A study showed that performing just two minutes of HIIT in the form of sprints increased metabolism over 24 hours as much as 30 minutes of running.* A higher metabolic rate results in a greater amount of calories burned long after you stop exercising.
Shorter workout times
High Intensity Interval Training is designed to be performed in all-out efforts to maximize calorie burn during the workout, and beyond. With each exercise, you should be giving 100% effort with good form. Between tough periods, there is a short rest period to recover. This loop of full effort and short rest times causes a quick increase and decrease in heart rate (this burns calories and tests the cardiovascular system). The total length of a workout needed to burn a good amount of calories is significantly less than many other types of workouts. A 20-minute HIIT workout is equivalent to well over double that length in a steady-state cardio workout.
Build lean muscle mass
HIIT has been shown to build lean muscle mass. Because most HIIT exercises simply use bodyweight rather than external weights, the growth of muscle is limited, yet apparent. Individuals who rarely exercise see a greater gain in lean muscle than those who already exercise regularly. Since HIIT also burns significant fat, lean muscle is revealed naturally through this process.
Build cardiovascular Capacity
Numerous studies also confirm the effectiveness of interval training as an enhancement to cardiovascular capacity. This means it’s great for your heart. It tests your heart in positive ways and has been shown to benefit all ages. Cardio is no longer the main way to test this system. With the bursts of effort and periods of rest, HIIT causes the heart to adapt to stressors imposed on it through training and strengthens the heart muscle.
do it anywhere
Another reason I love HIIT so much is because most HIIT workouts do not require any equipment but the weight of your own body. This makes them perfect for traveling or when you can’t make it to the gym. Yup, that’s right, no excuses anymore! HIIT uses dynamic exercises like jump squats, skaters, and ab bicycles to increase your heart rate and burn fat without the need for equipment. You can find many HIIT workouts in my 8-week faith and fitness plan called Dumbbells And Devotions 2.0.
Improve Athletic Performance
HIIT workouts improve your ability to withstand other types of interval training as well. Many team sports like basketball, soccer, and boxing impose rigors on your body and HIIT helps you train for them. Hard sprints cause aching muscles, but incorporating HIIT into your routine has been shown to decrease the intensity of this sensation and subside it more quickly over time.
1. Giannaki, C. D., et al. "Eight weeks of a combination of high intensity interval training and conventional training reduce visceral adiposity and improve physical fitness: a group-based intervention." The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness (2015).