Emma Frain, head of fitness at Protein World, shares the eight things a personal trainer wants you to know about HIIT training.
High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, has become incredibly popular in the fitness world. A HIIT session alternates between periods of fast-paced, or ‘high-intensity’, all-out exercise, followed by low-intensity movements or rest periods. HIIT normally follows a circuit-style format, which keeps your muscles engaged throughout the entire workout.
1 You should prepare to sweat it out for the duration of the workout
HIIT training is one of the most intense workouts you can do, and it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted, so people need to be prepared to work. If you don’t, the chances are that you’re not pushing yourself as hard as you can, which is the level you should be aiming for during the high-intensity parts of the workout.
2 If you’re looking for a workout that improves fitness levels, burns fat but still maintains muscle – this is the work out for you
HIIT maximises both aerobic and anaerobic fitness by working the body hard for a period of time, followed by a short period of rest. This affects the muscle tissue at a cellular level, changing mitochondrial activity (mitochondria converts oxygen and nutrients into energy) in the muscles themselves, which optimises muscle building and maintenance during fat loss.
3 You can burn up to 2 800kJ in 45 minutes doing HIIT
A popular excuse for many to not work out is due to a lack of time, which is one of the reasons HIIT is proving to be so popular. It’s ideal for fitting into a busy schedule without disrupting your day. The average HIIT workout should last around 30 minutes, a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 45. During these time frames you can still burn up to 2 800kJ, depending on fitness levels and intensity of workouts.
4 Your weight loss or fitness shouldn’t plateau
When it comes to strength training and cardiovascular activity, it’s easy to fall into habits and for your body to plateau, which can often prevent you from reaching your goal. HIIT is an incredibly versatile way of training, as you can incorporate different tempos, movements, reps, and weights into a routine to stop your body from ever getting used to it. This will force the body to adapt to the exercises you’re putting it through, resulting in lean muscle growth and overall body conditioning.
5 HIIT training can cause wear and tear on your body, though
Yes, there are so many positives associated with it, but as with all increased intensity workouts, this can cause extra wear and tear on your body. Although each high-intensity session is supposed to be quick and full-on, it’s still so important to check your form and the positioning of your body to reduce the risk of injury. If you’re unsure whether you’re performing an exercise move correctly, google the correct way to do it and practice – it will then become second nature.
6 The benefits of HIIT training continue after the workout is complete
Due to the nature of the workout, by increasing intensity and raising the heart rate in a short space of time, our metabolism speeds up, which allows the body to continue burning kilojoules for hours after you’ve finished exercising.
7 A warmup and cool-down must be included within a HIIT workout
Your muscles need to be engaged and switched on in order to prepare it for intense bursts of exercise. For those short on time, YouTube provides a range of short but effective warmups and cool-downs. For those who have the time, a focus on pre- and post-workout stretching will also help aid mobility and increase flexibility – as well as making DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) slightly more bearable the next day.
8 There have been links between HIIT training and improved heart health
Increased fitness is not the only benefit – not only does it make us look and feel fitter, it also adds to the function of our internal organs. As we become fitter, so do our organs, and there has been links between HIIT training and the reduction of cardiovascular illnesses, including relating factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
This article was originally published on Cosmopolitan.co.uk.