Cardio workouts have topped the list of fitness enthusiasts who like challenge and intensity.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form cardio activity, which shortens the performance time, but enhances the results
like increased calories burn, better posture, improved alignment, increased metabolism and muscle mass. As per American College of Sports Medicine, “The intense work periods may range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long, and are performed at 80% to 95% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, the maximum number of times your heart will beat in a minute without overexerting yourself. The recovery periods may last equally as long as the work periods and are usually performed at 40% to 50% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate.”
Athletes have used this form of interval training for many years because it provides high performance levels for short periods at a high intensity. The wide range of benefits & enhanced cardiorespiratory fitness has made HIIT one of the most recognized & widely accepted workouts.
The interval time is usually structured in 1:1 or 1:2 ratio where the performer works for a minute and rest for a minute or two minutes, depending on his/her ability.
Many people, who demand increased active time, perform the workout for 2 minutes and rests for a minute. Here is an introductory guide for these super adaptable workouts:
What are the benefits of HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training workout offers the following benefits:
- Targeting both the anaerobic as well as aerobic fitness levels, HIIT workout burns body fat faster in comparison to a low intensity workout. Body Building dot com states a study where two groups were compared on the basis of low impact and high impact training. It was noted that the latter burnt 2% of body fat in a week while the former burnt only 0.3%.
- An excellent workout for the cardiovascular health, HIIT has been scientifically proven to strengthen the heart & improve its functioning.
- It melts the fat accumulated in specific areas and boosts growth of muscle mass, turning up the metabolism.
- A HIIT workout can be great to manage blood sugar levels in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It also keeps a check on blood pressure levels.
- ‘The 20-60 seconds on & 10-60 seconds off’ workout pattern stretched across 10-20 minutes sounds more feasible than a traditional 20 minutes, low impact cardio routine. The rest periods allow the muscles to recharge and perform the next 20-60 seconds with more energy and in a better form.
- These workouts can be adjusted as per the fitness level of the practitioner. From beginners to advance, obese to diabetic, gym goers to people who train at home,
These workouts can be customized on and off the machines, which makes them popular among all types of fitness enthusiasts.
- Apart from burning high number of calories, HIIT workout burns calories after the workout as well, which is referred to as EPOC or Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. For almost two hours after the workout the body restores to pre-workout levels & consumes extra energy in the process. This burns about 6 to 15% more calories of the total calories burned during the workout.
How many times a week should a HIIT be performed?
Engaging almost all large muscle groups of the body, a HIIT workout can be exhaustive as well as challenging. Hence it requires higher recovery periods. As a beginner, one can start with once a week and gradually build it up to thrice a week. An intermediate level workout enthusiast can take up HIIT up to 2 -3 times a week & add one or two strength training sessions to achieve weight loss. Lastly, an advanced exerciser or an athlete can perform HIIT 4 to 6 times a week or decrease the rest time in between the active periods to add intensity & frequency of the exercises performed.
What are the safety concerns when performing a HIIT?
A beginner is posed to higher risk due to strenuous exercise with increased heart rate. Dizziness, light- headedness or nausea can be experienced at times.
If one practices HIIT in moderation and increase the time gradually, injury can be avoided.
It is ideal to increase the rest periods if dizziness one experiences dizziness. Also, an excess of HIIT can cause stress, excess production of cortisol (stress hormone) & in worst cases lead to muscle damage.
An ideal example of a HIIT beginner workout for 10 minutes (45 seconds on, 15 seconds off per exercise) will be:
- Start with a minute of boxer shuffles
- Jumping jacks
- High knees
- Butt kickers
- High lows
- Plank jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Standing Mountain climbers
- End with a minute of boxer shuffles