If you’ve browsed this site at all, you probably have found a brief description of what HIIT training is…a little quick blurb on HIIT Fitness classes. Many of you still may be wondering, “what the heck is HIIT?” Sounds kind of scary, right? Let’s do some demystifying today. What is HIIT? Why should I do it? Can it make me lose weight? Let’s answer some of those questions.
First and foremost, what is HIIT?
It’s the acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. It is a type of training that involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times. Basically it involves a specified period of time in which a person performs at around 80-90% of their maximal effort-think running, followed by a period of much less intense activity- think walking. The purpose of the short recovery period is to bring your heart rate back to normal before performing the next anaerobic burst. But instead of walking and running, you may do jumping jacks, body weight squats, high knees, rowing, swimming, jumping, crunches, etc. Your options are almost endless. And that is what makes HIIT training so great. It doesn’t require equipment, unless you want it, and it doesn’t make you run if you hate it, or perform other activities that are complicated. Anyone, at any fitness level, can complete a HIIT workout simply because they can be so tailored.
Why should you do it?
Because getting active is so important in keeping your body healthy. The American Heart Association and other regulating bodies don’t put out physical activity parameters just because they’re bored. They’ve done extensive research and have solid reasoning as to why you need to get your butt moving. HIIT training has been shown to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy).So, why not get moving with a HIIT program? You can do it alone, if that is your thing, or you can jump into a group (hint, hint: HIIT Fitness) and be led by an instructor. HIIT training, in my opinion, is a super way to incorporate strength and cardio training in one. I am always down for multitasking and finding ways to get the most bang for my buck. HIIT gives you lotsa bang with very little buck. You don’t need to spend money on weights and equipment because much of the work just uses your own body weight. If you want a lean body that has some definition, then doing continuous steady-state cardio is not going to give you the results you want. HIIT decreases the chances that your body will use your muscles as fuel, therefore it preserves your lean mass, something that doesn’t happen if you engage in regular steady-state sessions. By conserving your muscles, you will maintain your strength while improving your endurance.
Can it make me lose weight?
Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT workout, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into overdrive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after a steady state run or lifting session. This is different than regular endurance exercise as the routine never allows your body to adjust to one intensity level, giving your body the shock it needs to start using the fat as fuel for your workout. Regular cardiovascular exercise, such as running on the treadmill for a set time at a consistent speed, causes muscle catabolism, which is the breakdown of muscle tissue and that’s no bueno. A 2001 study from East Tennessee State University found that subjects who followed an 8-week HIIT program dropped 2% in body fat compared to the 0% that was dropped by subjects that underwent a continuous steady-state program. The same study also stated that the subjects who followed the above program burned almost 100 more calories per day during the 24-hours after each exercise- hello afterburn!
This all sounds pretty good to me. I’m sold. And the bonus of HIIT Fitness, especially, is that we don’t solely focus on “cardio” activity. So everything you read above is definitely true about HIIT training, but I like to think that with HIIT Fitness, you’re just getting a little extra. Because my background is heavy in weight lifting, I like to create classes that use movements that you’d typically find in the weight room, too. So don’t fear that you’ll be dying from millions of jumping jacks (though I love those, too) because we will do other exercises not normally associated with cardio, like squats and gluteus maximus work, and exercises for arm definition.
Obviously, I’m biased. It’s my class, my creation. But I haven’t found a participant yet that hasn’t enjoyed it…even if they complain a bit along the way. I would probably think I was doing something wrong if at least one person didn’t give me the stink eye or a groan when I announce, “gimme 8 more sit-ups” or “5 burpees together to finish class off”. It’s good to be pushed, it’s great to be a in group of like-minded people, and being sweaty and out of breath is just motivation to come back for more.