Many in the fitness industry, including myself, have been singing the praises of High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) for a long time now and according to the good folks at The American College of Sports Medicine, it’s one of the two top fitness trends for 2014 (the other being bodyweight training).
They surveyed more than 3,800 fitness professionals who work in commercial, clinical, community and corporate gyms and health clubs to identify the top 20 fitness trends worldwide for next year. They selected those trends from 38 potential choices.
So why is this type of workout all the rage and what are the real benefits of it? H.I.I.T. is a training technique in which you give 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 more fat in less time.
“A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery. This after-burn effect is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts."It sounds too simple to be effective, but science doesn't stretch the truth. Read on for 3 proven benefits of H.I.I.T:
Salvador told the Dailyburn.com that combing high intensity with interval training results in EPOC, which speeds your metabolic rate and “translates into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours after a complete H.I.I.T. routine.”
This means you’ll still be burning fat even after you’ve left the gym. Not only do you burn more calories during a H.I.I.T. workout, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body's repair cycle into hyper-drive. According to Shape.com, "that means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a H.I.I.T. workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run."
H.I.I.T. workouts can be done anywhere, for instance, at home, in a hotel room, in a park, at a gym, etc. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15-minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour.
From Shape.com, "a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training."
Since H.I.I.T. workouts generally use only your body weight, the focus is on getting your heart rate up and keeping it there. These workouts result in “optimal muscle building and muscle retention coupled with fat loss and increased calorie burn,” says Salvador.
According to a study done in 2006, pushing your anaerobic zone (that point at which you feel your heart is about to explode and your lungs just can’t keep up) produces extreme results. They found that after 8 weeks of doing a H.I.I.T. program, participants could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.
Now that you are thoroughly convinced… well I will assume you are. What type of H.I.I.T. workout would I recommend?
Well, before you jump into the H.I.I.T. program or CrossFit class that your buddy is doing, perhaps research some sites such as bodybuilding.com and Shape.com to find out about what programs suit your goals and current activity level.
Try some of the classes and see what works for you and most importantly, keeps you engaged. You can also get a new “workout of the week” from Bodybuilding.com and if you want to try the super intense H.I.I.T. workout called Tabata, Shape gives you 10 to choose from.
Now with all that said, if I see you walking or jogging on the treadmill for an hour straight and you tell me you’re trying to burn fat, I’m going to graciously excuse myself and immediately go post this on your FB profile, just in case you forgot.
What a good friend I am.