HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is an exercise tactic where short bursts of high intensity workouts are done alternately with low intensity exercises.
HIIT has been around since the 1970s as strength and muscle building strategy but it started gaining popularity as a fat loss technique since mid-1990s.
HIIT Exercise Regimen
HIIT starts with a warm up period, followed by several repetitions of high intensity workouts, followed by medium intensity workouts to allow muscle recovery, and then a cool down period.
High intensity workout periods could be anything between 1 to 2 minutes, followed by 3-4 minutes of low or medium intensity workouts. This cycle could be repeated with a break of 30 seconds in between
Overall, a normal HIIT session may last from 4–30 minutes.
Check out this below 20 min HIIT workout video which you can try at home:
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic
HIIT workouts are anaerobic exercises that build muscle mass as well as endurance. So it is great for strength training for athletes and other sportspersons. Examples include push-ups, squats, lunges, fast running, etc.
Low intensity workouts are aerobic exercises performed for a longer duration of time. Examples include walking, cycling, slow running etc.
Studies have shown that high intensity workouts lead to greater loss of fat as compared to low intensity workouts due to the difference in aerobic and anaerobic forms of body metabolism.
Benefits of HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training increases heart rate due to its sheer intensity. So it raises cardiovascular fitness for people in age groups 18-45.
However, if you have a medical condition, consult your doctor before starting any type of HIIT regimen. Check if your heart and body are up to enduring the effects of anaerobic metabolism.
HIIT is not All Good
HIIT should not be done regularly. Once or twice a week is more than sufficient to build core muscles, strength as well as endurance.
Your body needs anywhere between 24 – 48 hours to recover from interval training, depending on its intensity and duration.
HIIT vs. Other Forms of Exercise
The jury is still out on whether HIIT is better or worse than other forms of low and moderate intensity workouts.
If you have reached a plateau after a long period of low intensity workouts, or even continuous gymming, starting HIIT once a week could be a good idea. However, always take up HIIT under the guidance of an expert.