5 Amazing Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise where you alternate periods of low intensity and high intensity intervals. This type of workout forces you to work at your maximal level of effort for a short period of time followed by a little bit of rest before you go back into maximum level of effort. The form of HIIT I personally use are basic sprints all-out 6-10 times with 30-45 seconds rest in between. The entire workout doesn’t take longer than 10 minutes. Here’s the top 5 benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training and the science behind using HIIT to get ripped!

1. Increase How Efficiently Your Muscles use Oxygen

One common misconception is that to increase your endurance and “get in shape” you need to perform very long cardio sessions, preferably the longer you go the better. However studies have shown that short HIIT workouts are a lot more time efficient when it comes to increasing skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and improving performance both for short distance and for long distance runners.

Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training Energy Systems

One study from 2006 has shown an extreme example when after 8 weeks of doing High Intensity Interval Training the subjects had twice as much endurance performing cycling than they had before the study.

“As little as six sessions of HIT over 2 wk or a total of only approximately 15 min of very intense exercise (approximately 600 kJ), can increase skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and endurance performance and alter metabolic control during aerobic-based exercise.”

Studies:
Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain?
A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms. 

Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance

2. Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Studies have shown that the lactate (lactic acid) produced by intense anaerobic work during High-Intensity Interval Training  stimulates the release of growth hormone.

The effects lasts up to 24 hours after you finish your workout and can be as much as an 450% increase in HGH levels. This is an amazing benefit considering that increase HGH will not only help us burn more fat it will also increase bone density, improve sleep, slow down aging, increase overall energy levels and help us build more muscle!

Studies:

The time course of the human growth hormone response to a 6 s and a 30 s cycle ergometer sprint.

3. Burn More Fat & Lose Less Muscle

It’s clear by now that HIIT is the more efficient way to burn fat when compared to the common steady state cardio training. HIIT makes you burn more calories post-exercise by generating a much larger EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Besides that it studies have shown that high intensity interval training also improves the muscle’s ability to utilize fat as fuel more effectively leading to more fat burning.

Now that we know that HIIT is more effective for fat loss what about how these 2 types of exercises interfere with our regular gym sessions. Basically the more cardio you do every week the more your strength and bodybuilding workout will suffer from the added stress. The most stress will go to legs and the central nervous system, this means that calibrated amount of cardio can easily lead to over-training, prevent muscle growth and strength gains.

The problem though isn’t only over-training due to too much cardio which is mostly the case with runners it’s also the fact that endurance training has been shown to reduce total protein synthesis so you’re both getting over-trained and losing muscle.

Since HIIT takes less time to perform 1-2 sessions per week can be just enough to get all the benefits while not stressing the system too much and beside that research has shown that  intense interval training preserves muscle better than steady-state cardio. Considering all this I recommend that you do HIIT cardio instead of jogging to get the best of both worlds.

Studies:

Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. 

Does the intensity of an exercise programme modulate body composition changes? 

The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males

4. Easy to do Anywhere / Anytime

The beauty of High-Intensity Interval Training is that you can do it anywhere and any time, there’s no need to fancy equipment or gym machines. There’s different variations of HIIT which you can implement, I’m saying this because some individuals might have a problem doing sprints due to some injuries, back problems or obesity. If you suffer from those or similar conditions adapt by finding a form of exercise that you can perform maximum effort intervals with rest in between and still stay safe.

The simplest form of HIIT that comes to my mind is: get off the chair and stand in 1 spot in your home right now and just start jumping as fast as you can with maximum effort until you can’t do it anymore, then you take a break of 30 seconds and do it again. Do 6-10 intervals of this and you’re basically doing  HIIT. Your heart should be racing after 5th or 6th interval. Sometimes I will do plyometric exercises at home when the weather is bad or if it’s too cold outside to perform the regular sprint routine.

Here’s a good example video of performing HIIT at home without any equipment:

5. Very Time Efficient Compared To Other Methods

HIIT is one of the most efficient exercises you can ever do, as little as 2 workouts per week with each workout lasting no longer than 10 minutes it will give you all the benefits that would normally take hours of running. The time efficiency is the thing what made HIIT so interesting for me in the first place because I don’t want to waste hours on cardio if I can get the same benefits in 20 minutes.

Say goodbye to hour long sessions of jogging or fast walking and start implementing HIIT in your weekly schedule.

Studies:

Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease

My thoughts on Steady-State Cardio aka. Jogging?

I know i know, summer is coming, parks and streets are full of people jogging around, sweating and looking like they’re gonna pass out on the next step. It always surprises me how many people still believe jogging is the most efficient way to burn fat and get in shape. Might be because they running commercials are so damn good that people actually buy into the idea.  Why I hate jogging? Hate is such a strong word, I wouldn’t say I hate it… but let’s just say that I’m not a big fan of inefficiency.

Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training vs Steady State Cardio

Conclusion – Use The Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

The fact is, I just don’t have that much time and muscle to spare on steady-state inefficient cardio and I think it goes same for everyone reading this article. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is just more efficient, saving you hours and hours of precious time which you spend doing other things you like to do.

If you’re decided what form of extra activity to use to help you get ripped for summer I hope this article helps you make the smarter choice!

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