Hate working out because it’s so hard? Well, no more! HIIT workouts can help you achieve the impossible by burning more calories in 15 minutes than you would in a slow, long-distance run. There is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.
Even better, they can help you gain more energy, enhance your athletic abilities, and build muscle.
HIIT is so good that there is evidence that it can also slow down the aging process.
The routines have transformed the looks of many people across the world. If you’re looking for a program to develop a physique similar to that of a cover model, these routines are exactly what you need.
Working at peak intensity for a long period of time is virtually impossible. Therefore, if your plan so far has been to do tough routines for a long duration for shedding those excess pounds, it’s time to revamp that strategy.
HIIT – What is it?
Fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts searching for workout programs to get ripped need to be aware of ‘HIIT’ or High-Intensity Interval Training, or also known as “High-intensity intermittent exercise” (HIIE). Uninformed people often make the mistake of associating it with excessive sweating, panting, and lots of exhausting burpees.
Although people often think that HIIT is all about performing intensely challenging routines, short breaks & a ton of sweat, there’s a lot more to HIIT than just that.
While it does involve interval training and high intensity, many people don’t even perform their HIIT workouts in the correct manner.
It so happens that some people usually wind up not getting a single workout right, even when they thought they did. Therefore, here’s a comprehensive guide to HIIT that will clear up all your doubts.
HIIT happens to be a training technique, which involves working out in intense but short spurts of activity. Instead of standing still, these bursts are accompanied by active and short recovery periods which help you relax better.
This level of intensive training increases and maintains the body’s heart rate at high levels while simultaneously burning fat deposits within a short period of time.
The same benefits can also be derived from Moderate Intensity Steady State Cardio training where you run for a long period of time with your heart rate at a high level.
However, these two routines provide completely different results. HIIT proposes to raise your heart rate to high levels while simultaneously pushing you to train at peak intensity.
In order to derive maximum benefits from a HIIT routine, you need to work at peak capacity during each burst while maintaining your Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC at high levels. More On EPOC, later.
As a result, each activity burst is extremely short and ranges between 20 – 90 seconds since it can tire you out completely when you perform this activity in this state.
This is the primary difference between moderate interval & high-intensity training. Research studies have shown that while exercise enables fat loss by forcing your body to burn calories, an intensive exercise routine can cause an after-burn effect, which causes your body to increase its fat burn rate throughout the day. That’s why HIIT has become such a massive hit.
HIIT is usually seen as the best cardio routine that can help people get incredibly ripped fast. The workouts can benefit you immensely as it utilizes both added weight and bodyweight, which tones the muscles and raises one’s heart rate.
Apart from that, the rest intervals in HIIT also provide a number of benefits. Each training session consists of intense but short bursts of exercise, followed by an active recovery period.
It is crucial to rest between each training set since forgoing this part would cripple your ability to perform at peak capacity during the next activity burst.
As you’re pushing yourself to peak capacity, you are effectively forcing yourself to do something that’s neither comfortable nor easy for the body. However, your muscles will only develop further when you push them to your limits.
That’s why it is so great at increasing muscle mass and burning fat at the same time – It pushes you like no other exercise does. You won’t be able to reap such benefits even if you work out for hours and hours using traditional cardio routines.
In simple terms, it can enhance your endurance, improve muscle mass, burn body fat, and help you stay lean at the same time.
The Science Underlying HIIT
HIIT routines are meant to push you to the limit. The body undergoes a great deal of fatigue due to strenuous exercise conditions as it hopes for super-compensation.
However, that will only happen when your training overload has been supported by proper recovery. When these 2 components come together, they can cause physiological adaptations, which raise your performance to peak condition.
Think of your body as a car that’s been on a long, arduous road trip. Even when you’ve reached the destination, the engine will remain warm for a long period of time. HIIT workouts cause your body’s internal mechanisms to experience the same effect as well.
Studies have shown that the body’s metabolism rate remains the same many hours after you’re done with the workout. It’s a physiological effect called EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
The EPOC Effect
EPOC or (Afterburn) can help you burn calories at a faster pace even when you’ve completed your workout. EPOC happens when your post-workout oxygen consumption levels exceed your pre-exercise oxygen consumption levels.
During your recovery stage, all your energy resources have to be refueled, your blood has to be reoxygenated again, your circulatory hormones have to return to their normal levels.
Additionally, your body temperature, heart, and breathing rates have to go back to normal as well. To do all this, your oxygen levels need to be increased. Therefore, EPOC causes your calorie burn rates to remain high after your workout.
While EPOC occurs in almost all intense workouts, leading research studies have shown that HIIT routines are more effective for triggering EPOC.
A study published in 2010 explained that since these types of exercises are performed at higher intensity levels they require immediate energy, making your body utilize anaerobic pathways for providing you with Adenosine triphosphate ( ATP) at faster rates. ATP is the principal energy driver of all living cells.
That’s also why you can perform high-intensity routines only for short periods of time. HIIT is extremely effective because a high-intensity bout generates ATP, which is anaerobically produced. After it gets exhausted, ATP has to be produced aerobically.
EPOC is also mostly affected by how intense a workout was. The duration of the workout plays a smaller role in causing EPOC.
When you’re done with your HIIT workout, your body keeps using aerobic pathways for replacing the ATP that was utilized during your workout, boosting your body’s EPOC effect in turn.
As the body’s EPOC rate increases, you continue to burn calories at a proportionately higher rate, which causes your RMR or Resting Metabolic Rate to rise as well.
This spike and recovery pattern plays a significant role in ensuring that your HIIT routine works flawlessly.
Apart from improving your cardiorespiratory endurance, it also enables greater consumption of calories both during & after your workout compared to a moderate aerobic workout.
However, it is important to have a recovery period of at least 48 hours between two high-intensity sessions. You shouldn’t perform HIIT routines any more than 3 times in a week as well.
As HIIT routines are mostly about intensity, it is crucial that you be in good health along with a basic level of core and general strength and mobility. You should also respect your limitations and not stretch yourself out too much.
People who are eager to start a program have to practice and be aware of various exercises and be capable of performing those moves in a safe and correct manner. If you’re over 55 years of age, seek your doctor’s approval first before starting a HIIT routine.
People with orthopedic issues like shoulder, back, or knee conditions should stay away from these routines. Similarly, people suffering from various cardiovascular issues such as heart palpitations and hypertension shouldn’t go for HIIT routines either.