What is HIIT? what are the benefits of doing HIIT and what secrets do you need to know to really succeed. This article will try to cover all three.
The answers below are the same secrets that we include in all this sites most successful HIIT workouts.
And we will be going through each of them individually…so that you don’t make any mistakes with your workout.
What is HIIT
So what is HIIT ?
Well, HIIT is an exercise that consists of activity at high intensity for a period of time, followed by low intensity for a period of time.
One of these constitutes a set.
These HIIT ‘sets’ are repeated for up to 20 minutes.
The high intensity portion of the exercises are called Sprint Intervals.
Sprint intervals are measured either by time or distance.
They can be as short as 20 seconds in activities like Tabata or as long as 2 minutes for more aerobic HIIT.
During a rest interval you don’t stop exercising but you tone down the intensity which allows your body to recover from the sprint interval.
The recovery periods are called Rest Intervals.
Your fitness levels determine the length of your rest interval, specifically how long before you stop gasping for breath!
The success and failure of your intervals will be on how intense your sprint intervals are so it’s crucial you try recover enough.
If you don’t your HIIT will degrade back to an aerobic cardio type of workout.
The intensity of the sprint intervals is how hard you push yourself during the sprint.
For simplicity’s sake, we measure intensity on a scale from 1 to 10.
1 being no effort at all while 10 represents your maximum possible. effort.
Now this scale is personal and it will depend on your fitness level and the HIIT you plan to do.
For example, a seasoned athlete may train on improving his speed work, the sprint lasts for 15 seconds and his ‘10’ may be a flat out sprint with the athlete going as fast as he or she can.
Compare that with someone who has not exercised in a while and they start with intervals while walking. A one-minute walk at a brisk pace may leave the person completely out of breath. This would be their 10.
Now take the original athlete who sprinted for 15 seconds and change the interval to 5 minutes. They couldn’t maintain the same original 15 seconds pace for 5 minutes, but the maximum effort still represents a 10.
A ‘10’ is merely the maximum amount of effort a person can give for that particular interval.
HIIT Sessions usually last less than 20 Minutes
HIIT sessions longer than 20 minutes aren’t really HIIT.
The reason for this is that HIIT is all about explosive exercise, not duration. If you are pushing your HIIT session longer than 20 minutes, have a look at either increasing the intensity or the resistance of the workout.
This may seem like a short space of time to exercise but believe me; if you do the workout correctly, it will exhaust you.
The goal of HIIT is to hold an anaerobic state for a long cumulative time
It’s designed with rest intervals to allow you to sprint harder for longer.
In an advanced HIIT workout you would probably spend about 7 to 8 minutes of high intensity in a 15 minute workout. If you are a beginner you should start with 4 to 6 minutes of high intensity.
For Maximum Benefits make sure you are using Major Muscle Groups
There are a range of activities you can do with HIIT.
When choosing an activity try to pick one that safely uses the largest muscle groups in your body.
These are your legs, and your back.
High Intensity interval training will try to tap the energy sources found inside the muscle. The larger the muscle group being exercised, the more the benefit.
Here are a selection of ideas that are all excellent for HIIT.
Do HIIT every Second Day
HIIT should not be done on consecutive days.
The workouts goal is to operate at a high intensity. This burns energy from your muscles known as glycogen and it needs plenty of time to replenish. You also create wear and tear during the workout that needs to repair. (This repair creates all the wonderful benefits of HIIT)
If this doesn’t happen, you cannot workout with as much intensity and you have a much greater chance of injuring yourself. The benefits happen in your body during your rest period and the more rested you are, the more intensity you can put into your workout.
So putting this idea into a sentence: You exercise as hard as you can, then leave your body to improve itself during two day’s rest.
Resistance is your friend
Most people make a mistake when starting out.
They try to go too fast….with little resistance.
Remember the aim of HIIT is to drain your muscles of energy. It’s far easier to do this by turning up the resistance.
You never want it so high you can’t exercise but if you have a choice to make it harder or faster, always choose harder.
Alternate Your HIIT Routines
One of the key principles around High Intensity HIIT is preventing any type of plateau.
It’s designed around creating an environment where your body is constantly adapting, and as your body is always trying to please, it invariably does. When this happens, your improvements slow down.
In fact, they have found that in highly trained athletes, HIIT had almost no effect whatsoever because they couldn’t workout hard enough to cause adaptation.
Luckily 99.9% are very far away from this situation!
To counter this adaptation, always keep your body guessing, after you have done about 4 to 8 weeks on a particular HIIT program, start a new one.
HIIT for Weight Loss
A lot of us endure the pain of HIIT for the idea of a better body. Not just fitter, but leaner.
This section will concentrate specifically on how to get that fat loss from HIIT.
By the time you finish reading this section, you will know how to lose 2 pounds of pure fat every week so you can fit into those fantastic clothes you just bought.
The problem with low intensity exercise
For years, they have told us low-intensity aerobic exercise is the best method for burning off our extra body fat.
Research also shows that the lower the intensity of the exercise, the greater percentage of fat we use as fuel for muscles, so in low intensity aerobic activity the body operates in a ‘fat burning’ zone which burns more fat than at a higher intensity.
In fact, several experiments have all concluded that aerobic exercise does little for large scale fat loss and body recomposition.
So unfortunately, there are thousands of people trying desperately to lose weight by going slowly on the treadmill or something similar. And mostly, these people will not lose as much fat as they want.
So why doesn’t low intensity work?
Well, the error scientists made was that they stopped measuring the energy usage immediately after the exercise.
They should have carried on for another 48 hours…
The Magic Of Epoc
EPOC stands for Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. It’s a mouthful, I know!
EPOC occurs in the body after intense exercise drains muscles of their inbuilt energy source. This energy is called muscle glycogen.
Your body uses it as a backup store of energy, for emergencies.
It’s vital for your body to have this backup so its high priority to replenish these stores.
This can take up to 48 hours to happen.
If you aren’t eating garbage, your body has no alternative but to draw and burn up your fat reserves to provide this energy.
So for the next two days while you sit at work, watch TV or have that peaceful nap, your blood cells are rushing around that belly or those thighs, grabbing as much of the fat as it can and taking it away to use it as energy, without you having to do much…
And EPOC is only the immediate benefit…
Fat Loss Adaptation
Over time, your body’s adapts this process to make it more efficient.
The muscle’s ability to store energy increases so your demands for fat release go up.
Doing HIIT requires the body to funnel new energy to the muscles instead of sending them to your fat stores.
The more you do HIIT, so as you can see the better you get at this, the more of a fat burning machine your body turns into.
The Six Benefits of HIIT
The benefits of HIIT completely outway cardio!
Its easy to say that, but how do you know?
Below we look at several of the scientific studies done on HIIT to show its benefits of HIIT.
1. Intense HIIT workouts burn off 114% more of your weight
Intense HIIT creates different stresses on the body, compared with normal steady state cardio.
These stressors engage different systems in your body. These would normally go untouched when you do normal cardio exercise.
Your calories burnt goes up exponentially.
You literally burn up more energy than you have. Your body needs to use your fat for energy.
So the HIIT you do can be shorter and less often but… as soon as you engage the intensity you burn way more calories and your weight loss moves onto a different level.
Heres an experiment they did in the University of Western Ontario.
Men and women selected were devided into two groups
- One group did HIIT (6 sets of 30 sec sprints with 4 minute recovery at an intensity of 10).
- The other did normal cardio (60 minutes of cardio at an intensity of about 6)
After 6 weeks the cardio group lost 5.8% of their fat, the HIIT group lost 12.4% of theirs.
Thats 114% more weight loss with a workout that was considerably shorter.
2. How to Increase Your Metabolism by 36% in Two Weeks
Lets say you started working out three times a week.
In those sessions, you burnt up 30% extra calories per day.
Here’s what would happen:
- On the days you worked out, you would burn up 30 more calories and you would probably lose a bit of weight
- On the four days you didn’t exercise, your fat loss would remain static
- Your ability to burn extra calories overall through the week would be at about 12% of your normal metabolism.
Not too efficient is it?
Now, what if you could your metabolism by 30% all the time.
- You would still burn extra calories on the 3 days you exercise
- You would burn 30% more than normal on the days you didn’t exercise.
- Your results would be vastly better
In Ontario at the University of Guelph they tested this in 2008.
Untrained individuals increased the following indicators over 6 weeks, here is what they said:
“This study demonstrated that 18 h of repeated high-intensity exercise sessions over 6 weeks (3 d.week-1) is a powerful method to increase whole-body and skeletal muscle capacities to oxidize fat and carbohydrate in previously untrained..”
Here are the actual specific results (all factors contribute to metabolism)
- increased cytochrome c oxidase IV content (18%)
- maximal activities of the mitochondrial enzymes citrate synthase (26%)
- beta-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase (29%)
- aspartate-amino transferase (26%)
- pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH; 21%)
- increased FAT/CD36, FABPpm, GLUT 4, and MCT 1 and 4 transport proteins (14%-30%)
- increased glycogen content (59%)
The same university did a two-week experiment with eight women. Exercise whole body fat oxidation increased by 36% after HIIT.
HIIT increases your metabolism.
3. You Can Lose 9 Times More Bodyfat
Imagine I’m standing in front of you and in my outstretched hand I’m offering you a red pill.
This red pill has no side effects, it’s perfectly safe and will do nothing to you, except.. you will wake up tomorrow 20lbs lighter.
Does that sound like a good deal? Would you take it?
If it was perfectly safe, I’m 99.99999% sure you would say yes… because weight loss is what we are after…right?
But before you grab it out of my hand, I tell you I have a second offer.
A blue pill…
You can still take the red pill. You will wake up tomorrow having lost 20lbs….but its just weight loss.
You will lose fat, but muscle too.
You will still look like you do now, just 20lbs scrawnier. Your actual body shape won’t change. You will just become smaller and your metabolism will slow down.
Now the blue pill is different.
If you take the blue pill, you will only lose 10lbs overnight…but all of the loss will be fat.
Your body will change shape, it will be toned and athletic. Your metabolism will stay high.
You will just have a lot less fat covering those muscles…
Now which pill do you choose?
It’s a little more complicated now, right? Do I just want to lose weight? or do I want to look and feel better? Would I sacrifice those extra 10 pounds? What is my real goal here? To be weightless or to look good?
Lucky for you, you don’t need to choose.
HIIT loses more weight….and more of it is fat. The study below has probably been quoted more than any other in terms of the benefits of HIIT
At Laval University in Quebec, 32 men and women took part in an experiment.
Half of them did normal cardio exercise for 20 weeks, the other half did HIIT for 15 weeks.
At the end of the program body fat skin fold measurements were taken. The HIIT group had a 9 times greater body fat reduction than the cardio group
Ultimately your goal is to create a workout that you can spend less time doing exercise and lose more fat.
This workout needs to combine the elements of what is discussed in this article.
These are elements that trigger the benefits of HIIT that we are discussing.
4. Exercise 28% Harder
Lets say you decided to start training with a friend.
Both of you have been jogging around the track for about half an hour and it’s your last lap.
You have a bit of a competitive streak in you, you are going to cross the line first.
There’s no way you are going to let him win.
You know you are fitter than him, you are also faster….
So at about three hundred meters to go, you pick up the pace.
At first, with your superior speed, you start pulling you away, but then….
Your muscles start to burn and ache…and he catches you….and passes you.
His speed is unrelenting and you watch him blast away in front of you as you hit the wall…
His speed never wavers and he crosses the line way in front of you….
By the time you finish, he’s standing there watching you, with a big smug grin on his face…
So what happened?
You know you are faster than him, and you are sure you are fitter.
you decide to carry on training…
But even after months. the same thing keeps on happening.
He’s there at the line, grinning at you finishing after him.
The answer is that this has nothing to do with fitness or speed.
It’s called your anaerobic capacity, its how long you can keep on running at full pace before you crack.HIIT is one of the only ways to improve this.
One of the more famouse studies on HIIT is that done by Dr Izumi Tabata.
The head coach of the Japanese speed skating team, Mr. Irisawa Koichi, had designed a new training protocol.
Dr Izumi Tabata was hired to analyze the effects of this protocol, and from this research its popularity exploded.
From then on it became known as the Tabata protocol…(although it probably should have been known as the Koichi protocol!)
None the less, the HIIT group gained a massive increase of 28% of their Anaerobic capacity. (More than massive when you consider these were already olympic athletes to start with)
So clearly, if you want to be the one grinning at your mate crawling across the finish line….HIIT!
5. High Intensity for Twice as Long
This might seem a strange metaphor but have ever known anybody with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? They they might have said something like this to you:
“I can do what you can, I just have less spoons than you…”
It comes from ‘The Spoon Theory” written by Christine Miserandino.
In simple terms if I have CFS, I might start the day with 10 spoons, if you are healthy, you get 200 spoons.
I can do what you can, but each action costs us a spoon.
We make breakfast…that’s a spoon
We wash the dishes…that’s a spoon
We pack our bag…that’s a spoon
When I’ve spent my 10 spoons, I’m out…I’m done for the day, there is no energy left.
You still have 190, plenty of energy to chase after whatever you want.
It was designed to explain how CFS feels to a normal person.
Now CFS and HIIT are miles apart…. but it will help explain the next benefit.
Each day we start off with a certain amount of energy.
And every day we use this energy to get our lives moving….Go to work, go to gym, meet with friends, do projects, play with the kids etc…
Some people seem to have enough energy for all of this and more.
Others are exhausted by evening.
If you are exhausted it may be due to you anaerobic threshold being low…you just don’t have enough spoons.
Put simply, how long can you go before you get tired? Or does your energy just last and last?
In a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2005 they did a little research on this
Once again subjects were split into Cardio and HIIT groups.
Anaerobic threshold was measured by “time to exhaustion” in seconds while working at 90% maximal heart rate.
At the beginning of the study, the ‘time to exhaustion’ of both groups was about 100 seconds.
After 16 weeks both groups had improved.
The cardio group increased to 230 seconds…a considerable improvement.
But the HIIT group had increased their time to exhaustion by a whopping 480 seconds. A phenomenal improvement.
So you have big goals? Things you want for your life. Picture those dreams you have, everything you want to achieve before this life is over……
And you need energy to create these plans, right?……So how many spoons do you have?
6. Increase Your Personal VO2Max Capacity by 18%
The festina affair was a series of doping scandals that broke after the 1998 tour de france.
It started after a large number of doping products were found in the festina team car.
By December 2000, all nine Festina riders had confessed to using erythropoietin (EPO)
They took EPO because it creates a considerable boost in VO2Max.
In this study, VO2Max was increased by 27% using EPO
VO2Max is a measure of the aerobic physical fitness of an individual.
The festina riders were cheating by taking drugs to make themselves fitter than was possible.
What happens to VO2Max when you do HIIT? Can it affect aerobic fitnessas well?
In a study done in 2015, 55 untrained college aged subjects did HIIT for 8 weeks.
There VO2Max increased by 18%, thats 2/3rds of the effect of taking EPO, achieved in 8 weeks…which is considerable.
HIIT increases all types of fitness.