7 Benefits of HIIT or High-intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is the best workout fitness program designed to work on the entire body but in a shorter period of time. In this article, I’ve shared 7 important benefits of HIIT workout training which are based on studies. Along with this, we’ll also see some disadvantages related to the HIIT exercises.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT include any type of workout; that is to be performed at high-intensity for a fixed amount of time followed by a short interval as the recovery period. To understand this, let’s take an example of HIIT circuit training. Assume there are 5 exercises in a circuit; squats, burpees, jumping jacks, high-knees and crunches. Here’s how you can complete that circuit:

  • Complete as many squats you can do in 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.
  • Complete as many burpees you can do in 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.
  • Do jumping jacks for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.
  • Do high-knees for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.
  • Complete as many crunches you can do in 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.
  • This is one round, do 4 rounds to complete a 20-minutes HIIT workout session.

HIIT workouts are short, intense bursts and use to maximize overall performances. These workouts often mix aerobic, anaerobic and resistance training. HIIT workout is a bit tough but very fruitful than traditional cardio and strength training. There are numerous HIIT workout training benefits based on research and studies. We’ll see one by one later in this article.

The Top 7 HIIT Workout Benefits:

  1. Burns More Calories in the Least Time
  2. Afterburn Affect
  3. Weight Loss
  4. Develop Skeletal Muscles
  5. Improve Heart Health
  6. Reduce Blood Pressure
  7. Improve Breathing Capacity and Lung Functions

1. HIIT is A great Way to Burns More Calories

HIIT is a great workout program for those who want to burn calories and lose weight. You can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time like in 20 to 30 minutes.

A study was done in the year 2015 by the National Library of Medicine, in which 9 active men (age: 20-30 years; height: 175 to 185 cm; and weight: 80 to 90 kg) participated for performing 4 exercises for 30 minutes exercises include;

  • Resistance training session using 75% of their 1-repetition maximum (1RM),
  • Endurance cycling session at 70% maximum heart rate (HRmax),
  • Endurance treadmill session at 70% HRmax, and
  • A HIIT session on a hydraulic resistance system (HRS) that included repeating intervals of 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 40 seconds of a recovery period or less intense activity.

Out of these 4 exercises, the study suggests that the High-intensity interval training (HIIT) session with an HRS burn more calories than other steady-state exercise sessions.

This means you can burn a lot of calories by doing only 10 minutes exercises with your maximum effort and the rest 20 minutes is the recovery period.

An another study have shown that the 30-minutes of HIIT session burn around 330-500 calories.

2. HIIT Leads To an “afterburn” eeffect

“Afterburn” effect means your body continues to burn calories even after your exercise is over. Generally, It lasts for the period of 2 to 24 hours deepening on your fitness level. A study suggested, 2 minutes of sprinting allow your body to burn calories for up to 24 hours.

It is because High-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises increase metabolism and metabolic rate (a rate at which your body uses to burn calories during and after the workout).

Another study demonstrated that HIIT increases the oxygen consumption and metabolic rate even after the hours of workout.

This is a reason why many fitness clubs and trainers prefer HIIT workout over different workout programs for weight loss for their clients.

3. HIIT can help you lose weight

Several studies suggested that HIIT is one of the best ways to lose body fats. Here’s what research says;

According to a study demonstrated by the Journal of Obesity, High-intensity intermittent exercises may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous fat and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise like steady-state cardio and resistance training.

In the same study, it’s shown that 15 overweight women did a combination of High-intensity intermittent exercises along with eating a healthy diet, lost 2.6 Kg subcutaneous fat in 15 weeks.

An another study demonstrated that, doing a 20-minutes High-intensity intermittent exercises three times a week for 12 weeks, reduce approximately 2 kg or 4.4 pounds of your body fat.

HIIT isn’t the only way to lose body fat, other workout programs also promote weight loss, but high-intensity interval training is proven to be the best training program which cut fats in the short amount of time.

But no workout program can help you lose weight if you don’t manage your calorie consumption. Eating low calories food and regular exercises will surely help you lose weight faster.

4. HIIT exercises may also help you develop skeletal muscles

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) isn’t the best way to build muscles compared to the weight training but it increases in cellular metabolism of skeletal muscle.

According to a study published in 2012, a group of young males participated for 12 weeks HIIT program, three times a week. The result demonstrated the mass gain in the most used muscles like the legs and the trunk.

HIIT may not help you gain muscles but it develops skeletal muscles, increase the bone density and improves the coordination between muscles and joints.

5. HIIT workout May Improve Heart Health

High-Intensity Interval Training also good for heart health.

A study demonstrated that HIIT exercises reduce heart rate and decrease the chances of heart failure.

Doing exercises at higher intensity improve VO2peak (it is the maximum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise). The better the VO2peak the optimum your heart functions.

But in some cases, HIIT exercises can cause a problem for people with a heart problem. So if you have health issues then consult your doctor before starting out HIIT program.

6. HIIT Workouts Reduce Blood Pressure

Several studies have shown that HIIT can reduce blood pressure especially in overweight and obese individuals who often suffers from high blood pressure problem.

A study conducted in 2017, in which 11 men and 27 women aged 35 to 55 years were divided into two groups according to their blood pressure. Out of 38 people, 22 were classified as hypertensive. All participated for a total of 24 sessions (3 sessions per week).

Each session included one-minute of stationary bicycling at a higher intensity, followed by a recovery period of two minutes. This cycle was repeated 10 times (or we can say for 30 minutes). This method is known as 1 * 2 * 10.

The study demonstrated that there was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in the hypertensive group. Their blood pressure was down by 15-20 % or from 140-50 to 100-130. But there was no major difference in the blood pressure of the diastolic group.

Therefore the 1 * 2 * 10 training method is an efficient way to to enhance and reduce blood pressure in persons with hypertension in a period of just 8 weeks.

7. HIIT Workout Training Improve Breathing Capacity and Lung Functions

Among the several benefits of HIIT workout, enhancing pulmonary function is also an important one.

In a study, some researchers have selected 15 physically active men for the two different training program for a period of 4 weeks (3 days a week). Out of 15, 8 were assigned to a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and the rest were selected for the Endurance Training (ET).

HIIT group performed stationary bicycling at 90% of their maximum heart rate. They did a total of 5 rounds, 1-min cycling followed by a 3-min recovery period.

On the other hand, The ET group cycled for 45 min continuously at 60-70% of their maximum heart rate.

In the middle and the end of the training, both groups performed five-mile run.

This study demonstrated that HIIT provides a significant improvement in the inspiratory muscle strength in the short amount of time compared to endurance training.

You can see how beneficial HIIT is, doing only 5 minutes at higher intensity gives a better result than doing 45 minutes at moderate intensity.

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