Often known as HIIT, this method of exercise works on the basis that you exercise hard for short bursts of time to raise the heart rate, followed by ‘recovery time’ during which you’ll perform slower exercises to level the heart rate again. This is then repeated several times.
It’s a great way of burning fat and seeing results quickly, if you follow the regime in a dedicated way. In fact, research suggests that people using the HIIT method of training will see more progress doing 15 minutes of work per day, 3 x per week, than another who may do steady cardiovascular workouts for an hour a day, 3 x per week.
What Are The Benefits of HIIT?
HIIT training has been shown to improve:
- aerobic and anaerobic fitness
- blood pressure
- cardiovascular health
- insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)
- cholesterol profiles
- abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.
How Popular is HIIT?
In short – the answer is very! That’s because it’s a really flexible way to exercise. Programmes can be tailored to suit the individual, with a period of intense activity lasting anything from 8 seconds through to 8 minutes – depending on fitness levels.
It can be used in conjunction with any easily-accessible aerobic activity like swimming, jogging, cycling, walking or aqua training. It’s a really low-investment form of exercise – no need to buy expensive equipment at all.
The Science Bit
The HIIT workouts are so effective as they burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially afterwards. This post-exercise period is known as EPOC, - excess post exercise oxygen consumption.
This covers around a 2-hour period afterwards, when the body restores itself to pre-exercise levels, using more energy to do so. Because of the vigorous contractile nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC generally tends to be modestly greater, adding about 6 to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure.
A further study in the issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, a study found that women who performed 7 HITT workouts over a 2 week period, increased their fat oxidation and the associated enzymes within the muscles that oxidise fat, by 30%*
Diet and HIIT Combined
For maximum effect, it will also pay to look at your food intake. It’s vital to balance your food groups – look at how much fat, salt, sugar, protein and carbs you take in on a daily basis.
You should be looking at a balanced diet, and for exercise purposes (and to stay fuller longer), try and eat slow-release carbohydrates like rice and sweet potatoes.
How do I start?
If you haven’t exercised for a while, or suspect you may have any kind of health problems, always have a check up. Your local gym could do this for you, or your doctor.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead, why not download an app for HIIT. These often come with preset timers, but you can customise your own.
For complete beginners, train at maximum heart rate for 30 seconds and recover over 1.5 minutes. This can be a fast walk for 30 seconds and a lazy stroll for 1.5 minutes. The most important aspect of HITT training is the difference between the stages, it needs to be as big as possible for your fitness and capability levels
- Eat well and healthily
- Stay hydrated – and motivated. Results will come quickly
- Eat small and often
- Make protein a priority (the body burns protein first)
- Avoid crash diets!
- Try and incorporate light weights into the routine for muscle firming too.