HIIT workout, or high-intensity interval training, is a type of cardiovascular workout focused on burning fat quickly.
Marked by quick, concentrated bursts of exercise with rest breaks in between, HIIT workouts can be fine-tuned to fit anyone’s fitness level. One intense exercise burst and one rest break is considered one round of repetitions.
Generally, high-intensity interval training consists of four to six repetitions and can last from twenty to thirty minutes. This is highly beneficial for individuals who may only have a brief amount of time, such as a lunch break, to exercise.
High-intensity interval training is easy to do nearly anywhere because it does not require any equipment and only utilizes body weight for resistance.
Health Benefits of a HIIT Workout
More benefits of a HIIT workout are explained in detail on the following slides.
1. Burns Lots of Calories Quickly
One huge bonus to a HIIT workout is it burns lots of calories quickly. A thirty-minute high-intensity interval training workout can burn more calories than running, biking, or weight training for the same amount of time.
This happens because the intense bursts are to be performed at maximum capacity. Most steady exercise is usually performed with less intensity.
Caloric burning can vary based on the time ratio of intense intervals and rest break intervals. For example, one minute of running (intense) with two minutes of walking (rest break) is considered a 1:2 ratio.
However, even with a 1:4 ratio, HIIT workouts still burn more calories in the same amount of time as most other forms of steady exercise.
2. Increased Metabolic Rate for Hours
High-intensity interval training is the way to go to achieve an increased metabolic rate for hours after exercising. The body is constantly burning calories to perform vital survival functions like breathing.
The basal metabolic rate refers to the rate at which the body burns calories at rest. This rate can increase and decrease depending on the activity level of the individual.
Metabolism increases with exercise and automatically decreases immediately after. A HIIT workout keeps the metabolic rate high for hours after a workout due to its sheer intensity.
Continually raising the metabolic rate not only burns calories in the moment, but it helps raise the basal metabolic rate too. This allows the body to burn more calories while at rest.
3. Improve Oxygen Consumption
Oxygen consumption refers to the muscle’s ability to use oxygen, and is closely related to the body’s metabolic rate.
Excessive post-exercise oxygen debt is what allows the body to continue burning calories long after HIIT workouts end. During intense workouts, the muscles are depleted of adenosine triphosphate, which is energy made from food consumption.
During and after a workout, adenosine triphosphate must be made to replace depleted stores. Oxygen consumption is necessary for this vital function.
Typically, endurance training like long and continuous running or biking are ways in which individuals can improve oxygen consumption, but high-intensity interval training has proven to be better at achieving it.
The intensity of these workouts is what causes excessive post-exercise oxygen debt, therefore burning more calories during and after the workout.
4. Reduce Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
As individuals age, their arteries become increasingly stiff, which contributes to higher blood pressure. There is a thin lining of cells in the arteries that needs to remain smooth to maintain blood flow.
This layer is called the endothelium. HIIT workouts have proven to support the function of the endothelium while continuous exercise does not.
These workouts also help the arteries loosen, thus improving the stiffness that develops. This helps lower blood pressure. HIIT workouts also help lower an individual’s resting heart rate.
Because the body has improved oxygen consumption, the heart can more efficiently pump blood throughout the body, which means the overall resting heart rate is lower.
Multiple studies have proven while all kinds of regular exercise will reduce heart rate and blood pressure, high-intensity interval training has a more efficient way of doing so.
5. Blood Sugar Reduction
High-intensity interval training workouts lead to blood sugar reduction and help improve insulin resistance.
Exercise, in general, helps lower blood sugar levels by utilizing glucose in the blood for energy. As the muscles run out of adenosine triphosphate during workouts, they pull glucose from the blood to make more.
This act allows insulin to work better because there is less sugar to remove from the blood. Cells are more sensitive to insulin and are able to better use it.
High-intensity interval training workouts are often recommended for patients with type II diabetes because it reduces visceral fat and improves beta cell function in the pancreas.