High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been one of the top trends in fitness since 2014. So, what is it, and does it work?
What is it?
HIIT consists of high intensity periods of work ranging from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long performed at 80-95% of an individual’s estimated maximum heart rate (MHR). These periods of intense exercise are broken up by recovery periods which usually consistent of a low intensity exercise performed around 40-50% of a person’s estimated MHR. A total workout can last anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes alternating the high and low intensity bursts throughout, although the majority of sessions are usually 30 minutes long. HIIT workouts can be performed in a range of different activity types from walking, running, cycling and swimming to resistance training and body weight workouts, among others. The great thing about HIIT training is it’s easily modified so it can cater for all levels of experience and fitness, and can be performed for short periods of time and still produce great results. Importantly being able to measure the intensity is crucial to ensuring the sessions are effective, this can either be done using a heart rate monitor or using the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE).
HIIT training has shown significant benefits in improving aerobic and anaerobic fitness, increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat, increasing metabolic rates, as well as improving several aspects of health including decreased blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health and cholesterol profiles, and improved insulin sensitivity. HIIT training burns a high number of calories after a workout has finished thanks to EPOC – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, the 2-hour period after a workout has finished. During this time period, the body uses more energy to recover and restore itself to pre-exercise levels. As HIIT workouts use a high intensity approach, generally focused on utilising compound movements using a high amount of muscle mass, there is usually around 6-15% more calories used in EPOC compared to traditional steady state workouts (ACSM, 2014).
There is an increasing amount of independent scientific research comparing HIIT workouts to continuous training demonstrating HIIT is an extremely effective training method if delivered correctly and particularly if an individual has a good base level of fitness. It can also be beneficial to all; Les Mills conducted research comparing their standard 60 minute programmes including Body Attack, Body Step and RPM, for five hours a week with their HIIT programme – Grit, twice a week. Despite the reduction in total training time, those participating in the Grit workouts showed significantly great reductions in cardiovascular disease risk and improvements in lean body bass, glucose tolerance and maximal oxygen consumption (Les Mills, June 2016).
So, what does this mean for you?
With more people struggling to find time to train, this modifiable method of training enables people from all levels of experience and fitness to access time efficient training methods to help them achieve their goals. This makes it a fantastic type of programming to introduce to your offering to provide variety and cater for those who need a short, effective workout. Moral of the story, give HIIT a try!
To find out how, FitQuest can help you demonstrate the effectiveness of different training types in improving fitness levels, contact us today.