High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) & The Research

    High intensity interval training (HIIT), has caught momentum in the past five to ten years and is recognized by The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) list as a rising fitness trend. According to ACSM and research on high intensity interval training, HIIT is one of the most effective types of training needed for strength building, weight loss and health restoration. 

    HIIT’s efficiency was looked at in a study by the ACSM, which concluded results based on a two week workout with high-intensity interval training being equivalent to an eight week workout with regular endurance training. 

    HIIT is popular among men and women all around the world and of all ages for its flexibility, as almost anyone can do it, notwithstanding their health history. And you can do it at any time, following any schedule.

    HIIT exercises are science based. These exercises come with specifications for different purposes of training, goals and preferences. It is best to perform them exactly according to recommendations. HIIT is an anaerobic exercise that helps a great deal with fat loss.

    What Exactly Is High Interval Training?

    HIIT is a type of training exercise that involves an active and full-force exercise sequence accompanied by an in-between recovery period. This type of exercise is designed for the participant to give a 100 percent effort to every workout exercise while giving them time to recover within certain periods after each set, during which the exercise is halted or switched to a much lower intensity. 

    HIIT training is a cardio exercise that aims at increase one’s heart rate by at least 80 to 85%, producing more results with a mix of strength-training.

    High-intensity interval training usually lasts for about 20 to 45 minutes, including the recovery period intervals, making it an ideal workout for people who are short for time.

    HIIT Versus Regular Strength Training

    High-intensity interval training has become one of the most popular training exercises in the world today. What is HIIT known for?

    • HIIT varies for  individuals –  HIIT can be modified based on the ability of the individual. The intensity level of one person could differ from that of another; the aim therefore  to increase the heart rate of a person based on their specific ability
    • HIIT requires 100% energy HIIT is called high intensity due to the amount of energy put into every movement. This all-in vigor is put in for a short amount of time, with longer recovery periods following each intense sequence
    • HIIT combines cardio work and strength building – HIIT is mostly a cardio exercise and is aimed at increasing one’s heart rate, thereby allowing for easy circulation of blood around the body. HIIT exercises could also be strength-building exercises into the mix. This allows a participant to do two different types of training exercises combined at the same time

    5 Reasons To Try

    High-intensity interval training has advantages for body building, weight loss and in boosting of body metabolism, as well as to help with the overall  health.  The following are the major reasons why high-intensity interval training is becoming an increasingly popular type of workout today: 

    1. HIIT burns more calories – HIIT now provides a better and more efficient way of reducing weight by cutting down the time of exercise and still burning more calories. It’s increase in cardiorespiratory circulation as a result of the combination of active and inactive period of exercise maximizes calorie burn by half the time and efficiently affects weight loss
    2. HIIT is flexible and convenient –  HIIT could sound intense however, the intensity of the training varies for individuals depending on one’s ability. It is also majorly convenient as it can be done at any time and place often without the need of equipment
    3. HIIT yields results in less timeThis is very alluring of course, as the exercise provides a shorter time frame required than a lot of other workouts in order for benefits to be experienced.  The period of training with HIIT may last for as long as 5 seconds to 8 minutes long with a mix of the varied recovery period, giving a total between 20 to 45 minutes. Even with this abbreviated exercise time, results are evident for most people. More calories are burnt and more muscles are built at a shorter time when compared to the regular exercises

    A 2016 study found that sprinting for a total of one minute during a ten minute HIIT workout will produce the same kind of effects as a continuous 45 minute jog 

    1. HIIT improves health by an increased metabolism, which is then retained for upto 24 hours after the workout is over. 

    Research On HIIT

    HIIT and  muscle building –  Building muscles is not usually the major aim with HIIT. However, the exercise does have a way of building muscles by losing fat and maintaining muscle mass. HIIT helps to preserve and retain muscle mass acquired by weightlifting exercises, while continuous regular workouts could make you lose muscle mass

    HIIT and cardio  HIIT is one effective form of cardio exercise. A 2015 study found that ten weeks of high-intensity interval training produces cardiovascular benefits to those who are at risk.

    HIIT and burning fat: Studies show that HIIT raises one’s metabolic rate all day by producing excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC) which  keeps one’s metabolic rate high for a long period of time. This allows a continual burning of fat till the EPOC level drops. This makes HIIT very efficient in burning fat and calories. 

    HIIT and overall health Studies show that the continual effect of HIIT and anaerobic exercises will inadvertently improve one’s health and prevent any risk of heart disease. A survey carried out on a study showed that participants that performed intense HIIT reported an improved heart health than those with lesser training. 

    HIIT exercises are best carried out under a professional’s guidance. The flexibility of these exercises for people of all ages and classes has allowed the grouping of these exercises into suitable classes based on goals and preferences, as well as health and age.

    HIIT For Your Specific Goals

    HIIT is good for goals that involve burning calories and maintaining muscle mass, and so the following HIIT workouts are recommended by Amanda Butler, a New York City-based HIIT trainer: 

    1. Hand-release pushups – this exercise is to be performed for a minute, followed by a minute interval of rest. It involves staying in the regular pushup position by lowering the body all the way down to the floor, then exhaling while you release your hand for about a second from the ground and push your body upward. This workout offers efficient burning of calories.
    2. Plyo push ups – these push ups are also used to burn calories, and it involves lowering the body down to a regular pushup position, followed by the sudden surge of the body upward with one’s hands, followed by lifting the hands off the ground as the body moves and the final landing of both the hands and body back to the pushup position. This exercise is carried out repeatedly for one minute with a minute interval of rest.
    3. Russian Twist – this move is a HIIT workout position meant to strengthen one’s core. It involves sitting on the floor with the heels touching the ground and twisting from side to side with the hands on the chest. The Russian Twist is performed for one minute with an interval recovery period of one minute.
    4.  Tuck-ups – this is carried out by lying on the back with hands stretched over the head, followed by the crunching of the legs into your chest as you lift your back off the floor. This exercise is repeated for a minute at an intense level and then the intensity, reduced for a minute.
    5. Plank-up – by placing the right elbow under the right shoulder in an ideal planking position, and then the left elbow under the left shoulder to lower the planking position, you press back up again to a higher planking position, starting with the right arm.
    6. Squats thrust – this exercise involves the rapid movement from the standing position to the planking position. This is done repeatedly until the heart rate is increased.

    HIIT For The Elderly

    Older adults need HIIT exercises to maintain their muscle mass as well, build their bones and keep their system running at all times. The following are some workouts best recommended for the elderly: 

    1. Treadmill – the use of a treadmill makes HIIT easier as it allows for the adjustment of intensity during recovery intervals. The training period involves sprinting on the treadmill, which could last from 5 seconds to 1 minute.  The recovery period involves walking on the treadmill for minutes until the heart rate is slowed down before repeating the exercise again.
    2. Cycling – cycling helps to strengthen the leg muscles, which is very important for older people. The bike is very good for HIIT in a controlled environment. Cycling can be done at a very high intensity, which is varied by the individual’s capacity, followed by low-speed cycling, and then repetition of the switch.

    Workout Tips

    To make the most out of any HIIT workout, here are a few tips that must be followed when performing exercises.

    1. Eat right: food intake is very important, and for high-intensity training, the body needs a good source of energy to replenish. The American Council on Exercise recommends the intake of a snack that’s rich in carbohydrates and contains little protein too.
    2. Oxygen flow: the way you breathe in and out in a HIIT exercise will determine how much longer you last in an intense session. When you breathe, in this type of exercise, airflow must be maximum; you breathe with both your mouth and your nose. The more you let in air and exhale, the faster and harder you perform.Always warm-up: warm-ups are important in every form of exercise, including HIIT. 2 to 5 minute warm-ups before any high-intensity interval exercise is needed so as to get the body muscles ready to work, even extensively.

    Best Time Ratio For It?

    The work to rest time ratio of a high-intensity interval training is between 1:2 and 1:6. This means in a 45 minutes long workout, a minimum of 15 minutes is spent only on working, and the remaining 30 minutes on resting, at intervals.  

    This increased rest time is appropriate because the more the body is given more time to recover from an intense workout, the better it feels to carry out more rounds. 

    The best ratio recommended work to rest ratio is 1:4. This ratio has shown effectiveness in research by enhancing anaerobic capacity to the peak, meaning the heart rate is increased to the peak in every work round.


    High-intensity interval training effectively meets fitness goals and preferences as well as improving one’s health. This effectiveness is enhanced and improved when one sticks to recommended HIIT exercises.

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