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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. HIIT is an amazing workout for any fitness level, and a great tool to use in everyone’s fitness routine for many reasons.
A good example workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat this 3-minute interval 5 times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout which will leave you sweating, feeling amazing and wondering why you didn’t start doing this ages ago. It almost sounds too good be true, but there are many proven facts about HIIT that will make you want to hit the treadmill as soon as you are done reading this article.
HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want a fast workout before work, during your lunch break,or to get in quick shape for an event. The best thing about HIIT is how fast you can do a workout! You can fit this kind of training literally anywhere at anytime with no equipment necessary.
Research shows you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training 3 times per week than the person jogging on the treadmill beside you for an hour. According to a recent study at the American College of Sports Medicine, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.
Not only do you burn more calories during HIIT workouts, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s metabolism into superman speed. That means you will burn more fat and calories hours after your HIIT workout than you do after steady state cardio.
Most people aren’t used to or do not like pushing into the anaerobic zone (when you feel like you can’t breathe, your heart is bursting out of your chest and you want to collapse on the floor). Extreme training produces extreme results, like better aerobic capacity and endurance and faster fat loss.
Any bodybuilder, figure and bikini competitor know the risks of losing muscle mass along with fat during the cutting stage for a competition. While steady state cardio may encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters and competitors to preserve their hard-earned muscle while ensuring most of the weight loss comes from fat. What a great combination!
In addition to increased fat burning and saving your muscle mass, HIIT studies have shown that it stimulates production of your natural human growth hormone (HGH) during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. HGH is responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, which makes us younger inside and out. Maybe that is why I still get asked for ID when I buy lottery tickets.
This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or gossiping with your friend. Because the session is so short, you should be working hard the whole time. If you feel like it was just an “ok” workout, then you did not perform the intervals properly. The trade-off for this type of training offers seasoned exercisers and athletes a new challenge to bust out of plateaus and new exercisers a quick way to shed fat. Keep in mind that this is very challenging, and if you have been sedentary for a long time, you should start with continuous cardio to get your fitness level up.
This type of training definitely won’t bore you like continuous cardio bores most of us. You may be in pain, cursing the treadmill and want to give up, but stick with it, the results are amazing and worth it!