HIIT: What Is It, How to Do It, and Benefits

Soniya
HIIT promotes faster weight loss without any muscle loss. (Image by Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels)
HIIT promotes faster weight loss without any muscle loss. (Image by Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels)

If you’re short on time, HIIT is a fitness regimen that can come to your aid. When doing HIIT, you are not restricted to a single style of exercise. You can do it on any cardio equipment in the gym, and those of you who prefer to train outside may easily incorporate these sessions into your runs and bike rides.

HIIT has been said to burn more calories in less time than regular cardio. But how true is this claim? Is it the best way to get an effective workout in a short amount of time? Let's take a look at what HIIT is and how it can be incorporated into your daily routine.


What exactly is HIIT?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. In HIIT, you either run as hard and fast as you can or use a rowing machine, elliptical machine, or stationary bike for short bursts of time before slowing to a brisk walk for a recovery period.

Many studies show that maximizing the intensity during exercise is an important component in order to achieve a good workout. This is because intense exercise burns more calories than sedentary behavior such as lying on the couch or sitting at your desk.


How to get started with the HIIT Routine

It is critical to remember that HIIT is all about pushing yourself to your limits for a brief period of time before taking a rest. You can structure your workout-to-rest ratio in a variety of ways. Some people like a 1:1 exercise-to-rest ratio, while a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio is also acceptable.

The duration of rest is determined by your current fitness level. For example, if you do not exercise consistently, a longer rest period would be preferable.

Pull-ups, push-ups, squat leaps, high knee sprints, and sit-ups are all great bodyweight exercises for HIIT, so you can do a session at home if you can't make it to the gym. This adaptability means you'll be less likely to get bored, which means you'll be more likely to stick with it, which is crucial for accomplishing your objectives.

HIIT is super easy to do on your own, and you'll only need a stopwatch or phone timer to help you keep track of the intervals.

Here's how to get started with a basic HIIT running workout:

  1. Go to the nearest park or any large, open space.
  2. Warm-up with some light jogging, high knees, and mobility – leg swings, arm swings, lunges, etc.
  3. When you're ready to start your HIIT workout, begin by jogging at a brisk pace for 30 seconds. You can run if you want, but make sure it's not a sprint. You want this pace to be challenging but still sustainable for about 30 seconds.
  4. After 30 seconds, jog at a slower pace for 2 minutes as an active recovery period. Then shoot for another 30-second run/jog at the brisk pace.
  5. Continue alternating between the two paces until you get tired or after about ten "push/rest" intervals (about 20 minutes total).

Don't forget the recovery phase

After these high-intensity intervals, there are resting periods. These can include coming to a complete stop or moving to a lower-intensity activity, such as jogging instead of sprinting. The length of your recovery period will vary based on the type of session you're undertaking.

Recovery phase is just as important as working out. (Image by Dominika Roseclay / Pexels)
Recovery phase is just as important as working out. (Image by Dominika Roseclay / Pexels)

Warm-ups are important for any exercise, but they are more important for HIIT due to their intense nature. A good HIIT warm-up consists of low-intensity aerobic exercises, such as a moderate jog, followed by dynamic stretches to get your muscles ready for the workout.


Why do HIIT - The benefits

The main benefit of HIIT is the “afterburn effect”: the amount of calories that are burned after your workout more than your regular workouts. If you do a HIIT workout and burn 500 calories during your session, you may burn 700 calories in total when you factor in the afterburn effect. Talk about an efficient way to exercise!

Not totally convinced? Here are some of the most popular benefits of HIIT:

1) Increases your metabolism

HIIT increases the production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent in the 24 hours after you finish your workout, in addition to greater fat burning and muscle preservation.

2) Promotes weight loss without any muscle loss

While steady-state exercise appears to promote muscle loss, studies demonstrate that both weight training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions allow people to keep their hard-earned muscles while losing the majority of their weight from fat stores.

3) You can do it anywhere, anytime

You can adapt to high-intensity interval training to match your time and space limits while still reaping the benefits. The versatility of HIIT cardio is seen in these routines.

4) No equipment needed

Running, biking, jump roping, and rowing are all excellent HIIT exercises, but you don't need any special equipment to accomplish them. Jump lunges are also an effective way to quickly raise your heart rate and receive the advantages of high-intensity interval training.


The bottom line

HIIT workouts are a great tool to get into shape, but they don't have a lasting weight-loss effect. Remember, you'll only burn more calories the day you train because your body has to use more energy to repair your muscles.

After 24-48 hours, however, that effect is gone. So, if you're really serious about losing weight, HIIT should be a complement to a good diet and not the sole weight loss strategy for you.

Poll : HIIT or Gym?

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Edited by Ashish Yadav