HIIT: What It Is and Why You Should Start It

Anyone else dislike doing cardio as much as I do? I know… I was a soccer player for ~18 years. But, I was a defender who was involved in multiple sports with differing performance requirements. As my endurance wasn’t up there with, let’s say a striker, I was always ecstatic when the ball went out of bounds so I could catch my breath!

As of recent I have found a great way to get my cardiovascular training in my workout program without boring myself. For those who don’t have enough time to do continuous, stead state cardio HIIT is for you!

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique where you alternate between bursts of low, moderate, and high effort cardiovascular activity. HIIT trains and conditions both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Aerobic activity includes lower intensity performed for longer periods of time, such as walking. Anaerobic activity consists of short bursts of​high-intensity movement, like sprinting.

Below are five reasons as to why you should incorporate HIIT training into your workout routine:

1. It’s efficient. 30 minutes or less? Sign me up! This training method is perfect for people who find it difficult to squeeze in a cardiovascular workout (or just detest the whole idea together). Not a fan of the dreadmill? It can also be done with no equipment! Don’t feel like sprinting or doing shuttle runs? Switch it up and swim some HIIT laps in the pool!

2. You’ll burn more fat while maintaining muscle. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow clients to preserve their lean muscle while ensuring most of the weight lost come from the correct fuel stores.

3. Your metabolism will increase. HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours following your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process.

4. HIIT is considered by the fitness and scientific community to be more effective than steady state cardiovascular training. The duration of HIIT is less than that of continuous training than steady state cardio. Due to the stored carbohydrates used as an energy source instead of utilizing fat, there is an increase in anaerobic endurance.

5. Your heart will thank you. “The heart becomes a better, stronger pump and the blood vessels and arteries get more elastic, allowing blood and oxygen to flow easier,” says Dr. Martin Gabala, Ph.D., chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario.

Want to try HIIT? Following a warm up I go on a treadmill or bike for 15-30 minutes. I will exert myself at a moderate level for 3 minutes, followed by a 30 second burst of high intensity. I’d repeat this cycle until completion, always to be mindful to cool down and stretch after. You can change the intervals to suit your ability, so have fun with it!

What’s your favourite HIIT program? Comment below!

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