Fitness trends seem to change as fast as the weather. Some crazes are just too ridiculous to stand the test of time (check out those inflatable shorts!) while others top the list year after year. With oodles of scientifically proven benefits, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is the current golden child of the fitness world. With HIIT, you alternate short periods of fast, very intense exercise with intervals of lower-intensity recovery periods (for example, 20 seconds of squat jumps followed by 10 seconds of jogging on the spot, repeated several times).
High Intensity Interval Training. Here are 7 reasons you need to start doing HIIT now!
1. You’ll burn more fat — especially abdominal fat
Belly fat, also known visceral fat, is the dangerous kind that sits next to your abdominal organs. If you have it, you’ll know how hard it is to get rid of. The good news is, High Intensity Interval Training is exceptionally good at burning off stubborn abdominal fat. So skip the sit-ups and do 20 seconds of high-knees running. Followed by 10 seconds of walking. Four times.
2. You’ll keep burning fat longer
After a HIIT workout, your metabolism stays revved up, meaning you’ll continue to burn calories at a higher rate up to 24-48 hours after exercising.
3. You’ll be less hungry
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that overweight men who participated in High Intensity Interval Training training reported a reduced appetite post-training. Less overeating + more fat burn = results!
4. You’ll improve your overall fitness
Research has proven that just a single 4-minute HIIT exercise performed three times per week can improve overall fitness levels in sedentary but otherwise healthy individuals. Imagine how great you’d feel if you did it for 15-20 minutes!
5. You’ll reduce your blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol and risks of developing diabetes
Your heart, pancreas and arteries seem to like HIIT, too. The shorter but more intense exercise intervals appear to have more effect on cardiovascular and metabolic disorders such as insulin sensitivity (sometimes a precursor to type 2 diabetes), high blood pressure and LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol levels than longer duration, less-intense types of exercise.
6. You’ll save time
Maximum benefits of HIIT with 15-20 minutes 3-4 times per week, although some small studies show health improvements after as little as 3 minutes, 3-4 times per week. Far more appealing than the 45-60 minutes of boring, steady state cardio on the treadmill!
7. You can do it anywhere, with no equipment
Out for a leisurely walk? Mix a few 30 second sprints into it to get a HIIT workout. Want to pump up your bike commute to work? Go up hills as fast as you can and then take it easy on the decline. Stuck at the office all day? Get down on the floor and do 30 reps of mountain climbers.
The key to your HIIT success is intensity. It should feel hard — so hard you can’t keep it up for very long. Use the talk test: If you can carry on a conversation during High Intensity Interval Training, you aren’t working hard enough.
If you’re new to exercise, check with your doctor to make sure HIIT is right for you. Then consult a trainer, who will ensure you’re working at the correct intensity without compromising safety.
With just a little extra hard work, everyone — from the most deeply rooted couch potatoes to the fitness fanatics — can improve health and fitness levels, feeling and looking better in just a few short bursts a day!