It’s plastered all over the fitness magazines and celebrities seem to love them. HIIT workouts are the thing in fashion at the moment and they've been associated with some fantastic fitness success stories. Bearing this in mind, we take a look at the workouts in more detail to see if they could prove to be effective for you.
What is HIIT?
Short for high-intensity interval training, HIIT does exactly as it says on the tin. Athletes give absolutely everything they have for short bursts of time, with a short rest period falling between each session. The idea is that your heart rate is kept at a constant high, eventually creating an oxygen shortage which means that the body requires even more oxygen during the recovery phase. This prompts something called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), making the body work especially hard to build the oxygen stores back. As you may have gathered, this process burns fat.
What are the direct benefits of HIIT?
HIIT is taking over “traditional" forms of exercise at a staggering rate, with the workouts prompting benefits that others just cannot rival:
One of the biggest excuses that a lot of people give for not hitting the gym is that they don’t have the time. This is probably the primary reason why HIIT workouts have suddenly become in fashion; they take minutes rather than hours to complete. In fact, some research has even been conducted which showed how a fifteen minute HIIT workout was more effective than an hour on the treadmill.
Fat Burning Ability
As mentioned previously, HIIT relies heavily on EPOC. This means that it is immediately able to burn much more fat than any other type of workout, with most of this occurring in the 24 hours after the exercise.
Muscle Preserving Ability
While cardiovascular workouts can eventually be effective in helping you lose fat, they can also lose muscle mass at the same time. Naturally, this isn’t something that many of us want and this is another area where HIIT prevails. It uses fat stores as energy, meaning that your muscle will stay in place for plenty of time to come.
Lack Of Equipment
This is another “convenient" benefit, with HIIT training not needing any sort of equipment. There’s no need for that pricey gym membership, or even a requirement to leave the house. HIIT workouts mainly rely on your own body as “equipment", meaning that its one of the less expensive around. Instead, exercises like running, press ups and sit ups are relied upon and if anything, you only need to arm yourself with a decent pair of trainers and the other basic fitness clothing.
What are the potential drawbacks of HIIT?
The nature of HIIT means that is by no means beneficial for everyone. There are risks involved, which can be summarised by the following drawbacks:
The theme of HIIT is that it’s intense and while this can prompt fantastic results, it can also mean that some people will overdo it. It can be possible to engage in the training too regularly, with insufficient rest periods, and overtrain. This means that your body simply cannot withstand the rigours of your training regime and you will most likely suffer from muscle soreness, tiredness and a general fall in performance.
Higher Risk of Injury
Similarly, it should go without saying that HIIT can increase the risks of injury. Training at higher levels of intensity is automatically going to make you more susceptible to problems. If you happen to be overweight, or generally injury prone, the chances increase again.
Difficulties With Strength Training
There’s no doubt that HIIT can have a tremendous impact on those individuals who are looking to shed the pounds, but in other types of training it can be less effective. If you are turning to strength training, it can be very difficult to master. Muscles fatigue at a much faster rate and it will prove hard to complete a full session at such intensities.
The lowdown on HIIT
As you can see, HIIT is certainly a much different type of training to anything that we have been used to over the years. It’s something that won’t be appropriate for everyone, but for those that have the willpower to work at such high intensities it can prove to be one of the most efficient ways to shed the calories.