If you’ve been working out for quite some time, chances are you’ve heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Curious on what this training method is all about, you search the internet forums to learn more about HIIT and how it can help you achieve your goals. Alternatively get in touch with BDPT today, the leading gym in Mandurah who can answer all your questions.
Whether you’re a fan of strength training or an avid cardio junkie, incorporating HIIT into your daily routine can make a huge difference in giving you the dream physique you desire. Like many protocols in the fitness field, it’s important to understand what HIIT is so you can make the most out of this training method.
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training refers to a specific type of training where you go all-out on an aerobic exercise and follow it with periods of recovery. This is done in short intervals where your heart rate reaches 80% of its maximum capacity. The difference between HIIT and other continuous, steady-state exercises like jogging or running on a treadmill is the intervals where periods of heart-pounding intensity are the primary focus.
For example, during a HIIT workout, you’d jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then do four 3-minute intervals of all-out running followed with three-minute intervals of brisk walking. You then finish that up with a 5-minute cooldown and rest. You can do the same with other aerobic exercises like biking or swimming to get your heart rate up and feel the burn in your body.
When you’re doing a HIIT workout, your body relies on your anaerobic pathways (which is essentially breaking down glucose without oxygen) to give you energy and fuel your workouts. This gives you an immediate burst of energy at a limited capacity — meaning the duration you can sustain that max effort is quite short.
Recovery before the next interval is crucial. HIIT teaches your body to acclimate between two very different states which in turn provides great cardio conditioning. The rest periods are necessary to prepare the body and allow y perform at its peak capacity during the high-intensity spurts.
To help gauge whether you’re pushing at max effort, many fitness experts use a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale that rates effort levels on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the all-out, balls-to-the-wall effort exertion.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
The most well-known benefit of high-intensity interval training is improving heart health. HIIT can boost cardio-respiratory health in a short period of time compared to continuous forms of exercise. We’re talking about improving your VO2 max which is a measure of how much oxygen your body can use during incremental exercise.
Martin Gibala, one of the world’s leading interval training experts, says that VO2 max is a great predictor of overall health. “The more aerobically fit you are, the better your heart can pump blood, the longer it takes you to get out of breath, and the farther and faster you’re able to bike or run or swim.” Gibala says.
Alongside heart health is the fact that HIIT can be an efficient way to burn calories. If your primary goal is weight loss, then you will benefit from incredible results by doing high-intensity interval training. Research has shown that people can burn comparable amounts of calories in 20-minute HIIT routines compared to 50-minute continuous, steady-state exercises. The reason behind that is that HIIT workouts cause a greater disturbance of the body’s homeostasis which takes more oxygen and energy to return it to its normal basal levels.
How to perform HIIT safely
When starting out with HIT, you want to focus on the bodyweight movements first. You want to avoid using weights at first because technique is really important. If you’re going all-out and you use incorrect form, you’re going to place a lot of stress on your joints and muscles, thus increasing your risk of injury. Make sure you pick an aerobic exercise that you can comfortably perform and sustain at a high intensity.
Warming up is also crucial whether you’ll be doing cardio-based HIIT or strength-based HIIT. Your warm up should consist of mobility movements like thoracic spine rotations and hip stretches. If you plan on doing strength-based HIIT, then you want to warm up with the exercise you’re going to do using light weights.
The more intense your workout, the more thorough the warm-up should be. This helps prepare your nervous system for the heart-pounding intervals that lie ahead. If you don’t warm up properly, you won’t perform to the best of your ability.
Scheduling a long HIIT session is a common mistake most beginners make. When going max effort, you cannot sustain that for a 1-hour workout. Instead, what you want to do is to limit your HIIT work outs to a maximum of 30 minutes. Start by doing low-impact anaerobic exercises and as you build endurance and confidence, progress to adding weights.