What Is HIIT Training And Why It Should Part Of Your Workout Routine
Updated: May 26
While getting fit and healthy seems to be on everyone's to-do list, for many of us, it’s often not as easy as we’d like. Between finding the time to go to the gym, getting the grocery shopping done, and cooking healthy meals, it can seem nearly impossible to schedule in the time to workout, especially if you're someone with an already packed schedule.
If not having enough time in your day to workout is your main reason for getting fit and healthy, HIIT is perfect for you. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is a fast-paced workout that gets your heart rate up quickly without requiring you to spend hours on the treadmill, stair climber, or other cardio equipment. In fact, you don't need a gym at all - you can do this type of workout at home in a pinch.
The key to HIIT workouts is alternating between intense bursts of activity and periods of rest or less intensity. If you've ever heard of a Tabata workout, you've heard of HIIT. Tabata training is a specific kind of HIIT workout developed by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. These types of HIIT workouts last 4 minutes with a maximum intensity level. While a four-minute workout seems easy, it's anything but. Luckily there are plenty of HIIT training workouts to choose from that are effective and align with your fitness level.
There are a number of benefits to adding HIIT workouts to your fitness routine. According to a one study, just two weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training. Four big benefits to this type of workout include:
Let's dive deeper into each of these.
How Is HIIT Good For Efficiency?
If you're looking to get more calorie-burn from shorter workouts, you'll love the effeciency of a high-interval intensity training. Compared to traditional cardio workouts, HIIT burns more calories in a fraction of the time.
Studies have shown that when done for the same amount of time, HIIT workouts can burn 25-30% more calories than other types of exercise including running, biking, or weight training. If not having enough time to get in a solid workout has been your reason for avoiding exercise, no more excuses! Interval training solves your problem quickly.
How Does HIIT Help After-Exercise Burn?
The best workouts are the ones that keep your body burning calories even after you've finished them. HIIT provides a post-workout calorie boost in addition to the calories you burned while you were engaged in the workout by increasing your metabolism for long after you’ve finished the workout. This after-burn effect is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC.
Studies show that HIIT increases your metabolic rate for hours after exercise, as much as up to 24-48 hours post-workout, even longer than jogging or weight training. To optimize your calorie burn, you'll want to keep a sharp focus on your own rate of perceived exertion, and to try to keep your heart rate between 75-90% of your max.
How Can HIIT Promote Fat Loss?
You've probably heard over and over that you can't "spot train" specific areas of your body. However one study showed that HIIT workouts significantly reduced stomach fat in study participants. Regardless of whether you are focused on your mid-section or not, the high calorie burn of an HIIT workout will help you loose fat all over.
HIIT can produce similar fat loss to traditional cardio, but with a much smaller time commitment. If one of your health and fitness goals is weight loss, HIIT is an effective method to add to your workout routine.
How Can HIIT Help With Muscle Gain?
Not only will this type of training assist you in losing fat, but you’ll simultaneously be building muscle when HIIT training. While a majority of the intervals will be bodyweight exercises, adding dumbbells and kettlebells to the exercises will help to promote the gain of muscle mass. This type of training will help you to shed fat and tone up, giving you the results you’ve been looking for.
The Best HIIT Exercises
When you're putting together a HIIT routine, add in exercises like plyometrics, resistance moves, explosive bodyweight exercises and high-rep cardio moves. Working with a Certified Personal Trainer will help keep your HIIT workouts challenging and varied. Getting the most out of your workouts and not getting bored is what will keep you coming back for more!
Joe Rindone, NCPT is a certified personal trainer and the Founder of Inspire Fitness Studio in Arlington, MA. Joe's passion for fitness has motivated him to become one Greater Boston's best personal trainers. An athlete throughout high school and college, Joe has always enjoyed being active. Currently he enjoys road races, working with his boxing coach, kettlebell training and getting out for a round of golf in his spare time.