What is HIIT?
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns much more fat in less time.
Why would someone do high-intensity training?
Not only does HIIT beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, like a tremendous boost in HGH, aka the "fitness hormone”, and burning 9x more body fat than steady state cardio. After every HIIT session your metabolism and post exercise oxygen consumption levels are raised for 48 hours.
From the book “Why Do We Overeat” by Dr. Stephan Guyenet:
“But the rate is uneven throughout the year and spikes dramatically during the holidays, a time when people tend to binge on all sorts of delicious holiday foods and eat much more than their bodies need. The problem is that sometimes people don’t lose all the weight back. They might gain 5 pounds, but only lose 2 after the holidays are over, leading to slow and steady weight gain over time (11). In fact, a large percentage of people’s lifetime weight gain can be explained just by the 6 week holiday period.”
HIIT will accomplish two goals: it will help accelerate fat loss and improve aerobic and anaerobic endurance. HIIT will most likely produce very fast results in a short period of time which is why it has been gaining popularity ever since it was introduced to the fitness community.
Nobody can promise any specific results but it is feasible that after an 8-week cycle of HIIT combined with training, you and those around you will be able to notice a significant change to your body. Athletes will be able to perform better in their given sport and will outperform others toward the end of games when everyone else is getting tired.
How does HIIT work?
HIIT works by giving you a better body composition. HIIT's short duration prevents catabolic states from arising and consuming muscle tissue, but at the same time elicits a strong fat burning effect. This ultimately means less fat and more muscle.
- The quick and explosive method of a short HIIT workout can often lead one to feel more energized rather than drained. Overall a HIIT trainee may find themselves with a better mood and feeling more energetic.
- Bouts of intense work effort that are associated with HIIT will better sports performance, with quicker and more agile movement.
- Your body does not have time to fully recover during the rest period, so by the 6th interval (of 8 for a 4 minute session) your oxygen consumption is maxed out, forcing your body to raise the threshold to complete the last intervals.
- An increase in VO2 max, or the maximum oxygen uptake is great for your overall fitness levels. This spells better anaerobic capacity for those who are interested in more than just a lean physique and want the ability to back it up.
- Metabolism can be increased for the next 48 hours, helping to burn 50% more fat overall than steady-state cardio.
- Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC): oxygen is consumed in greater amounts for a certain period of time after HIIT. This causes up to 9 times more fat being burned while in a resting state.
- Anabolic hormone production may increase, allowing for gains in lean muscle mass.
The biggest downside to HIIT is that it may take longer to recover from than less intense and slower, steady-state cardiovascular exercise. Please DO NOT attempt a HIIT session every day, and always watch your form when doing such quick and intense movements to prevent injuries. Here are some 4-minute Tabata HIIT circuits for a full-body burn.
1. High Knees
Run in place with your abs tight and lift your knees as high as possible with each step. For high intensity, go as fast as possible with good form.
2. Plank Jacks
Get into a push-up position, keeping your back straight and abs tight, explosively jump your hands and feet wider, then back. Go as quickly as possible while keeping good form. Do not bounce your back when you land, that is asking for lower back pain.
3. Mountain Climbers
4. Floor Taps Start from standing position, squat down and tap palms on floor then stand up.
5. High Knees
6. Lunge Jumps
7. Prisoner Squat Jumps