The effectiveness of total body workouts, involving high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that combines resistance and cardio exercises has been validated by numerous studies. The underling principle of this type of training relies on alternating between demanding physical activity and less demanding but active recovery periods.
If you are new to HIIT, you should aim for performing high intensity routines for about 30-60 seconds, followed by a break of two minutes (depending on the type of the workout). As you progress with your training and adapt to the intensity, you can start reducing the rest periods until make the split even.
One of the main features of this type of training is the increased intensity of your workouts, making your heart pump vigorously.
Hiit increases the expenditure of calories during the workout and for an extended period after the session, it boosts your metabolism, melts down your body fat, and helps you grow and maintain your muscles. In addition, it works on your mental capacity, mentally preparing you for future demanding workouts.
HIIT can provide your body with the same results as a 60 minutes lower intensity cardio workout in considerably shorter amount of time. The benefits of HIIT are manyfold. With the traditional cardio exercises performed at steady pace you address only your aerobic fitness, while HIIT improves your anaerobic fitness as well.
By combining these two, this training method simultaneously works both on improving your overall endurance and the strength of your muscles. For example, performing just half an hour of HIIT three times a week, can deliver the same improvement of your anaerobic and aerobic fitness as taking one hour of cardio exercises five days a week. Just 20 minutes of HIIT equals one hour on the treadmill. This considerably shortens your training sessions, allowing you to burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
INCREASES THE CALORIE EXPENDITURE
One of the main ingredients for boosting the fat burning process is oxygen. By performing a high-intensity workout you use a great amount of oxygen making the body crave for more during the period of recovery. This excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is the main reason why your body burns more calories and fat with the high-intensity interval training compared to the regular aerobic exercises performed at steady pace.
One of the effects of high-intensity interval training is that it makes your body work harder during the recovery period. As a result you are not burning the fats and calories only during the workout, but the increased expenditure continues for 24 to 48 hours after the session.
PRESERVES THE MUSCLES WHILE MELTING FAT
One of the effects of HIIT is that it stimulates the production of human growth hormone (HGH). The presence of this hormone is crucial if you want to stay healthy, strong and energetic. And, according to the studies, the human growth hormone can improve your insulin sensitivity, stimulating fat loss and muscle growth.
One of the greatest setbacks of each and every diet is that by cutting down on calories you’re not only losing fat, but muscle as well. HIIT comes in handy in this aspect as well. Namely, several studies have confirmed that the production of human growth hormone can increase by over 300% in the 24 hour period following the HIIT session. This helps your body to not only to maintain, but also to increase the lean muscle mass and eliminate the fat.
STIMULATES THE METABOLSIM
We’ve already mentioned that HIIT relies, among other thing, on starting up the EPOC, which boost up the metabolism for 48 hours after the session. The metabolic boosting properties of HIIT do not stop at this.
Namely, by building your muscle mass it further contributes to calorie expenditure because muscle cells burn more energy than fat cells. Further on, scientific studies reveal that the resting energy expenditure can be boosted by performing anaerobic exercises.
By performing this type of training you rev up the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the minimal rate of energy spent by our body at rest during a certain period of time. Increasing your metabolism rate is not only important for losing fat. It will also improve the overall health of your body.
One of the most interesting aspects of HIIT is that it adds versatility to your workout routine, and it can be performed with minimal equipment. Sure, you can include exercises like biking or rowing into your HIIT routine, but many other plyometric exercises can provide you with the same benefits.
As a matter of fact, you can even argue that using equipment can reduce the efficiency of this type of workout, because the main focus of HIIT should be boosting your heart rate and increasing the blood flow to each and every muscle in your body, and not on making one muscle group work harder.
BETTER STAMINA AND MENTAL STRENGTH
Performing demanding physical activities (biking, jogging or lifting weight) for a prolonged period of time requires you to have your body prepared to go beyond its comfort zone, where your hear races and you find it hard to breathe. HIIT can prepare you for this challenge. Namely, according to the scientific research just eight weeks of HIIT can double your performances in endurance sports. By challenging your aerobic and anaerobic abilities, it provides your cardiovascular system with the optimal benefits.
By the same token, HIIT can also be considered as brain workout. Most of us are not used to pushing our bodies to the outer limits of endurance, and as a reason many decide that it’s better to quit. This type of training taxes your body frequently pushing it out of its comfort zone. But once you learn that you can tackle these challenges, you’ll also build up your self-confidence. This will come in handy not only for your future athletic performances, but also in other aspects of life.