High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts are the latest workout trend for good reason. These quick workouts improve your heart health, help you burn more calories and can be done using the exercise of your choice.

An All-Out Effort

High intensity interval workouts involve an intense period of exercise that can last from a few seconds to 5 minutes or longer. During the exercise period, you’ll work as hard as you can and try to increase your heart rate to 80 to 95 percent of your maximal heart rate.

Each set of exercises is followed by a short recovery period, during which your heart rate should drop to 40 or 50 percent of your maximal heart rate. Your entire workout may last 15 minutes to an hour using the HIIT method, although you’ll need to take it slow until your body adjusts to intense exercise intervals. HIIT is used in addition to traditional workouts and does not replace them.

HIIT Offers Numerous Fitness Benefits

An HIIT workout offers a variety of benefits that make it a worthwhile addition to your fitness routine. When you participate in high intensity exercise, you burn more calories than you would if you opted for a less intense workout. Some of that calorie-burning comes in the two-hour period after you’ve finished exercising, when your body resets itself to its normal pre-exercise level. Although this happens after any type of exercise, you burn more calories since you work harder during an HIIT session.

Researchers have also discovered that high intensity interval training workouts can increase your endurance level. Improved endurance will not only help you during HIIT workouts but will also make participating in other forms of exercise easier.

High Intensity Interval Training offers many important health benefits. It can:

  • Improve cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of developing diabetes
  • Help your heart stay healthy
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Improve the way your muscles convert glucose to energy
  • Make losing weight and abdominal fat easier

Nearly Any Workout Can Be Adapted to HIIT

Because HIIT doesn’t require any special equipment or training, it’s a simple way to boost your fitness level. Whether you enjoy swimming, cycling, weightlifting, elliptical training or other forms of exercise, you can reap the benefits of HIIT.

A Sample High Intensity Interval Training Workout

Not sure how HIIT works? Take a look at this cycling example:

  1. Warm up by pedaling for about 5 minutes. Don’t push yourself. Just maintain a steady pace.
  2. Pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds.
  3. Spend the next 60 seconds pedaling at the pace you used during your warmup.
  4. Pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then reduce intensity for 60 seconds again. Repeat these steps, gradually building up to a session that lasts 15 minutes or longer.

Is HIIT Right for Everybody?

HIIT is an effective form of exercise for many people, but there are some people who should check with their doctors before participating in high intensity workouts. If you have a heart condition, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems or any other chronic health condition, it’s important to discuss your fitness plans with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program.

If you haven’t been active for a while, it’s important to start slowly and try another form of exercise first before you incorporate HIIT into your workout. The American College of Sports Training recommends establishing a base level of fitness by exercising 3 to 5 times a week for 20 to 60 minutes at a time before beginning HIIT workouts.

Form Is Important with High Intensity Interval Training

Form is important during many types of high intensity interval training exercises. Without proper form, you can develop tendinitis or other painful injuries. The best way to avoid these injuries is to attend one of the HIIT classes held at Triangle area gyms and fitness facilities. Your fitness instructor will help you enjoy the benefits of this popular exercise method and ensure your form is correct while you do those squats or throw that kettlebell.

HIIT offers an excellent way to boost the results of your workout, but exercise alone isn’t always enough to help you achieve your weight loss goals. The nutrition experts at Lifestyle Medical Centers can help you create a weight management plan that emphasizes healthy eating and good food choices.

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American College of Sports Training: High-Intensity Interval Training

International Sports Sciences Association: Is High Intensity Interval Training for Everyone?

Women’s Health:7 Reasons To Try High-Intensity Interval Training

Research Gate: Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training for the Rehabilitation of Patients With Coronary Artery Disease

Web MD: High-Intensity Workouts: Burn Calories Better, Longer