Fitness

9 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

✅ Evidence Based Article

A growing number of studies have proven the powerful physical, weight loss, and mental health benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), however, is it as powerful as many people believe? HIIT is among the most popular workout styles that millions of people worldwide enjoy doing.

HIIT is notable for its time-saving yet effective workout programs that provide powerful results. It involves the short bursts of super-intense, heart-pumping, and challenging movements, including burpees, jumping jacks, and sprints, giving you an opportunity to have a full-body workout in 10 to 20 minutes, or less.

While HIIT helps you save time when compared to the low-intensity steady-state cardio workouts, it also requires zero equipment, unless you’ve used to work out professionally in the gym. HIIT allows you to transform your body regardless of your budget, location, or gym membership. You can even work out in the office. Just a few HIIT workout sessions per week will help you drop unwanted pounds and become stronger in an easier way.

Keep reading to learn about the amazing benefits of HIIT as well as find out whether or not it’s for you. You’ll also find a little guide to adding HIIT to your week.

Is HIIT perfect for you?

Any type of training requires specific skills, a lot of patience, strong stamina, and some time. The high-intensity interval training is no exception. Most importantly, you must be absolutely healthy to do all those workouts without damaging your health.

If you’re new to this type of training, you’ll need to take some baby steps before you see any results. If you are broke and you believe you can’t get in shape without sports equipment or a gym membership, consider trying HIIT.

If you’re trying to lose weight and you have numerous health issues, HIIT might not be the right training program to begin with. Otherwise, you can end up with more serious health problems.

Depending on your physical health, begin with some simple activities like walking, stationary biking, or jogging. The main feature that makes HIIT different from other types of training is that it encourages you to exercise super fast for a certain period of time – in most cases starting with 30 seconds.

If you have problems with heart or breathing, you can either reduce the training time and increase the resting time that usually lasts for 25 to 30 seconds or avoid it overall if your doctor says it. HIIT can be performed 4 to 5 times a week and you can see the first results in a few weeks.

What are the best benefits of HIIT?

Even though HIIT is a short training, it can offer a variety of health benefits, which are similar to the benefits moderate-intensity training provide. When performed correctly, HIIT has little to no drawbacks. Here are the astonishing health benefits of high-intensity interval training:

1.Keep the blood sugar levels in check

The high levels of glucose in the blood can result in a number of dangerous health issues. First of all, it can negatively impact the vessels that provide vital organs with blood, leading to a higher risk factor of developing stroke and heart disease, eye issues, kidney disease, nerve issues, and others.

A study ✅ showed that high-intensity interval training – when performed correctly – can help to keep the blood sugar levels in check. Most importantly, HIIT can enhance insulin resistance and reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. People suffering from diabetes can reap some amazing health benefits from HIIT, but they should consult a professional trainer or a doctor before training.

2.Boost your heart health

Lack of physical activity has been proven ✅ to trigger chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease. HIIT has a powerful ability to calm down an increased heart rate and decrease high blood pressure. Performing HIIT on a weekly basis can help you boost your heart health and thus reduce your risk factor for heart disease.

Also, a scientific review ✅ indicated that people with weight problems like obesity tend to deal with hypertension or high blood pressure and they can ease their symptoms by including HIIT in their weekly plans.

3.Increase your oxygen intake

Even 15 minutes of HIIT per day can improve your oxygen consumption and increase your energy levels. When you work out, especially do cardio activities, such as running, jogging, swimming, or cycling, your body begins to use plenty of oxygen to supply enough energy to your muscles and boost the metabolic processes.

Cardio workouts require a lot of time and effort while HIIT remains a quick way to enhance your oxygen consumption with spending hours in the gym.

4.Build your muscle fast

Building muscle isn’t as easy as it’s shown in ads or movies. Sometimes people spend hours in the gym and put all their effort in training to gain muscle, but all in vain.

Nutrition plays a critical role in your muscle growth, but it’s also imperative that you exercise in the right way.  Regular HIIT training will help you enhance your muscle mass as it targets almost all areas of the body.

Besides aiding in the muscle growth, high-intensity intervals also help to support healthy muscle strength. Don’t expect the positive results overnight though, if you’re looking to become a bodybuilder, HIIT might not help you.

5.Promote fat burning

Even with such a little effort and time commitment, HIIT can promote a fat burning process similar to multiple endurance trainings. According to a research ✅ done by a group of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, HIIT aids in the reduction of unhealthy belly fat.

The results are impressive. People with weight issues who performed a 20-minute HIIT session at least 3 times a week lost 4.4 pounds of body fat in about 3 months and with no dietary changes. Multiple other researches have shown that HIIT helps to reduce the body fat in spite of a very low time commitment.

6.Speed up your metabolism

HIIT can also increase your metabolic rate for a few hours after exercise due to the intensity of the training. It’s great news for people who have trouble losing weight.

Regular HIIT workouts will help you burn additional calories even long after exercise. A study ✅ showed that HIIT aids in burning more calories by approximately 25-30% than most styles of training.

Another Canadian study ✅ revealed that just 2 minutes of high-intensity interval training in the form of sprints raised the metabolic rate for more than 24 hours and this is as much as a 30-minute run can provide.

7.Provide flexibility

One of the perks that HIIT has to offer is flexibility. You choose exercises that you want to do and time you can dedicate to your training. There’s no exercise limitation.

You can choose any cardio exercise and turn it into an interval workout. The sky is the limit. One day you can jog or run as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then take 50 second or more intervals or you can easily switch it up to bicycling or aerobics the next day. Since HIIT workouts require no special equipment, you can no restrictions, except if you have health problems.

8.Prevent premature aging

There’s a proven relationship between aging and physical activity. Not only does poor physical activity negatively affect the body functions, but it can also affect the way your skin looks.

HIIT helps to stimulate the production of an anti-aging enzyme called telomerase that is believed to increase life expectancy.

Moreover, one HIIT session aids in the reduction of the protein called p53 expression that’s linked to premature aging. Not to mention that HIIT fights stress that is also linked with premature aging. If you want to banish wrinkles, challenge yourself with HIIT.

9.Keep hormones in balance

High-intensity interval training can also help you keep three main hormones, such as ghrelin, leptin, and testosterone in check. The hormone ghrelin, also renowned as a hunger hormone, encourages you to develop unhealthy eating habits that lead to long-term weight gain. This hormone might be responsible for all of your food cravings. The increased level of ghrelin in the body could even trigger post-traumatic stress disorder.

Leptin is a second hormone that HIIT can balance. This hormone is called a starvation hormone as it’s responsible for your sense of feeling full after eating. Leptin is also responsible for your energy levels. If you overeat on a daily basis, you might become leptin-resistant and start gaining weight fast, increasing your risk of obesity.

Testosterone is a hormone that inhibits the leptin release and low levels of leptin make you gain pounds. At the same time, the high levels of testosterone in the body promote weight loss. Therefore, balance is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.

A research ✅ conducted by the Southeastern Louisiana University found that high-intensity exercise helps to keep both leptin and testosterone in balance, improving a relationship of both hormones.

How you can get started with HIIT training

Once you ensure that HIIT is the right workout for you, you can start planning your training sessions. If you’re new to exercise, it’s recommended to start with some simple physical activity like fast walking and jogging.

Over time, you can try activities like running, jumping, biking, burpees, etc. It’s important to choose the right training durations and recovery time to avoid the negative consequences of HIIT. Here are some simple HIIT workouts you can try today:

  • Perform squat jumps for 30 to 90 seconds but ensure you do them super fast. Stand or Walk for 40 seconds and repeat. Do several reps for 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Jog or walk fast to warm up and begin to sprint as fast as you can for 15 to 20 seconds. Walk or jog at a reduced pace for a few minutes and do sprints again. Do several reps for 15 minutes.

As you prepare your body for high-intensity training, you can experiment with different activities. If you’re sure you’re ready for more serious training, try the following workout step by step:

  • Do butt kicks for 45 seconds and rest for 10 seconds;
  • Do jump squats for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds;
  • Do mountain climbers for a minute and rest for 20 seconds;
  • Do burpees for 40 seconds and rest for 15 seconds;
  • Do jumping lunges for 40 seconds and rest for 15 seconds;
  • Do forearm plank for 15 seconds and rest for 30 seconds;
  • Do alternating side lunges for 50 seconds and finish.

You can alter this workout and add exercises you know how to do or enjoy doing. HIIT should be fun. If you don’t enjoy doing certain exercises, replace them with those you love. Remember, HIIT is flexible, which is why it’s tricky to give up on it.

Don’t overdo it

Many HIIT beginners end up with serious injuries, severe energy loss, muscle pain, and other health issues. Start with easy training and don’t do it each day. Ideally, it’s recommended to do HIIT 2 to 3 times a week. Your body needs enough time for recovery and rest. The most common drawbacks of HIIT are a slow recovery, severe muscle injury, muscle cramps, muscle loss, energy loss, and fatigue. If you have any hidden diseases or conditions, HIIT can worsen the symptoms.

High-intensity interval training helps to save time while it’s still considered as a highly efficient workout for weight loss and energy boost.

HIIT is especially amazing for those of us with jam-packed schedules or weight problems. When you do HIIT 2 to 3 times per week, you’re sure to experience all the benefits mentioned above.

The biggest perk is that this style of training is a powerful way to transform your body, even without any coin in your pocket. Before starting your high-intensity training though, ensure you’re totally healthy by consulting a doctor.