The Basic Facts about HIIT

For the longest time, workouts were all about either lifting weights or steady cardio, like jogging or cycling. Then HIIT came out, and now plenty of gyms offer HIIT classes as well. In fact, some gyms such as Fit Body Boot Camp even focus on HIIT for the most part.

But what is HIIT, and why is it so popular? What’s it good for? Are there any drawbacks? Here are some answers that should give you a basic overview of what HIIT is all about:

What’s HIIT?

The initials stand for High Intensity Interval Training. The simplest description of this type of workout is that it alternates between a high intensity, full blast exercise with an easier, more restful exercise. A basic example of this is to sprint at maximum (or near-maximum) speed for 30 seconds, which you then follow up by walking for the next 30 seconds.

Then you just keep on alternating between the 2 modes. An intense workout may have you doing these 2 exercises for 10 sets.

In some cases, instructors even go further by recommending a 2:1 intense to relaxed ratio. That’s 20 seconds of running to 10 seconds of walking.

It’s Good for Burning Fat

According to the accumulated research, HIIT has proven more effective at burning off fat than your standard steady state cardio like running and cycling. Both types of workouts prove equally effective at boosting your conditioning. But with HIIT, you’ll lose more weight, get better body composition, and improve in fasting insulin levels.

You just have to do HIIT properly, which means you need to increase your heart rat up to 85% or 90% of its maximum. This leads to the “afterburn effect”, which means your body is burning more calories throughout the rest of the day as your body recovers from the intensity of the workout.

With steady state cardio like jogging, you don’t get that afterburn effect so you don’t burn off additional calories for the rest of the day besides the calories you normally burn off. Steady state cardio is an aerobic workout, meaning you’re mainly using oxygen to fuel your muscles. HIIT raises your heart rate and it’s an anaerobic exercise.

How Long Should an HIIT Workout Last?

That really depends on who you ask. Some people say that they go to hour-long HIIT sessions. But then you might read other articles saying that just 7 minutes of HIIT will be fine.

You may want to do some personal experimentation to find out how much HIIT time is best for you. According to many, that sweet spot is about 20 to 30 minutes. Work out for less than 15 minutes and you may not have spent enough time at that high intensity level to really make much of a difference.

But if you’re still able to go past 30 minutes, then you’re probably not working out at a high enough intensity to maximize the benefits. You have to understand that cranking up your heart rate to 85% of maximum is hard. It really requires a lot of effort on your part.

Potential Drawbacks

So, HIIT is terrific for weight loss and fat burning. But what’s the downside? As it turns out, there are several potential issues.

Not as Effective for Muscle-Building

You may have some HIIT instructors saying that it can also work for building bigger muscles. That may true in a way, but it’s more accurate to say that HIIT is just not as effective at building bigger muscles than lifting weights.

But HIIT can also help you maintain your muscle mass, all while helping you burn off fat. So, with HIIT, it’s basically about becoming lean and staying lean and fit.

It’s Stressful

As already mentioned, achieving 85% of your heart rate max is hard. In other words, it’s stressful. That’s not to say that all stress levels are bad. A little bit of stress actually helps you to get stronger and more fit.

But too much stress is bad, and your body can’t actually tell the difference between stress caused by exercise and stress caused by life in general. So, if you’re adding a stressful HIIT workout to your schedule, then you should also add some sort of stress management system.

Do some yoga along with HIIT, to help with the stress. Add a weightlifting class to make sure you’re also building muscle, and you’ll be in great shape in time.

30-Minute HIIT Cardio Workout with Warm Up – No Equipment at Home

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