What Is HIIT and Why You Should Do It?

What is HIIT? HIIT is the acronym for High Intensity Interval training. ie short, intense bursts of exercise followed by a short rest and recovery time. The Interval training can be short, 20/10 workouts ie 20 seconds of  high intensity heavy work with 10 seconds rest, repeated 30 times. Or longer bursts with longer rest periods ie 2 minutes exercise, 1 minute rest, repeated 15 times. The total duration is only 30-45 minutes. In today’s fast-paced world, time poor world in which we live, HIIT appeals as it’s hard and fast.

According to a recent review written by Australian researchers HIIT has all the health benefits of regular physical activity that can be completed in a quarter of the time. According to an article in PubMed, HIIT is a time-efficient and effective alternative to traditional endurance exercise for boosting weight loss, aerobic stamina, cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Just 2.5 hours of HIT completed over a total of 2 weeks has demonstrated benefits that are equivalent to 10.5 hours of continuous moderate exercise.

What is HIIT and What Are The Benefits?

what is hiit1. Improved Body Composition

Many turn to traditional endurance exercise to lose weight and tone up. However, HIIT may deliver even better results. HIT has shown to reduce body fat, particularly abdominal fat. Compared with continual moderate exercise, HIT increases energy expenditure and fat burning for hours after a workout. (This is also prime time for consuming IsaLean Shake or IsaLean Pro to fuel greater muscle growth!)

HIIT may help preserve muscle mass in other ways too. During long bouts of endurance exercise, glycogen (the storage form of sugar) becomes depleted. The body then has to break into its muscle reserves to get protein to use for energy. As HIT has intervals of intense exercise followed by a small rest and recovery, muscle reserves are better preserved. The preservation of muscle mass keeps metabolism running high and supports greater fat loss over the long-term.

2. Improved Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health markers including VO2 max, blood vessel wall elasticity, and blood pressure responds favourably to endurance training. However HIIT training also shows  improvement with these markers.

VO2 max is a measure that determines a persons physical fitness. The higher the VO2 max, the more efficiently a person can get oxygen to working muscle to power performance. HIIT has shown to increase VO2 max even more so than traditional endurance training

Another important indicator of cardiovascular health is blood vessel wall elasticity, often referred to as endothelial function. Healthy endothelial function equates to a greater ability of the blood vessels to expand or contract when necessary. Unhealthy arteries tend to be harder and less flexible. HIIT also shows improvement in endothelial function, and a reduction in blood pressure.

In addition to increasing VO2 max, improving endothelial function, and lowering blood pressure, HIIT may help lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). Blood levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) may also be increased when combined with a balanced diet. Improved levels of cholesterol, as well as better blood pressure and endothelial function, can lead to reduced cardiovascular disease risk.

3. Improved Metabolic Health

Another well-known benefit of regular exercise is improved blood sugar control. Exercising muscle has a high demand for sugar as a fuel source. The more intense the exercise, the more muscle relies on sugar from the bloodstream and stored forms of sugar (glycogen) for energy. HIT has shown to effectively reduce blood sugar, as well as improving insulin sensitivity.

As a gatekeeper of sugar’s entry into body cells, the hormone insulin has a primary role in keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Resistance to insulin ultimately leads to high blood sugar levels and impaired energy production. The ability of HIT to enhance insulin sensitivity helps ensure the delivery of sugar to the cells that need it as well as proper blood sugar control.

4. Improved Aerobic Stamina and Exercise Performance

Although endurance training is renowned for improving aerobic stamina and conditioning, studies show that HIIT is an effective conditioning strategy too. Not only does HIIT increase VO2 max, it also increases time to exhaustion. In one study, the length of time that a group of eight athletes were able to cycle at 80 percent VO2 max nearly doubled. The results show an increase from 26 minutes to 51 minutes after undergoing six HIIT sessions over two weeks. See the results here

Why you Should Incorporate HIIT into Your Exercise Regime

Most people can benefit from incorporating HIIT into their exercise regime, including you. Studies have shown that it is safe and effective for those with health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. HIIT also offers numerous advantages for healthy people simply looking to save time or switch up their workouts. Professional endurance athletes are using HIT to improve their performance too. Incorporating HIIT alongside traditional endurance exercises creates a comprehensive training program.

So what is HIIT? HIT is a fun way to break up the monotony of conventional workouts, and according to the Australian study, may even be easier to stick to than traditional endurance training. HIT can yield substantial health and fitness benefits with minimal time commitments. However, before starting HIIT consultation with your physician is advised to determine if appropriate.

To read an article on nutrition and building muscle, please click here.

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