Why is HIIT such a hit

Posted on: 23/09/2018

I recently become an ambassador for Thrive Health & Nutrition Magazine and the summer edition featured my personal view on why ‘HIIT is such a hit’ which I wanted to share on my blog.  In my opinion, HIIT is so effective for so many of us and can be easily applied.  Enjoy the feature below:

In the world of fitness, new fads are thrown around like an 8 kg medicine ball in the gym. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) boomed into the fitness industry a few years ago as if it was a new revolutionary way of training.  However, this form of training has been used as early as the 1920’s with Finnish Olympic long-distance runner Hannes Kolehmainen, who utilised interval training within his training regime.

Having now spent nearly 20 years in health and fitness industry, working with a range of clients, I have seen many different fads come and go. Of course, like any concept of exercise, there are many claims that it will be the most effective method on the market and change your life.

The fact is, it does depend on what your goal is and not everyone will respond in the same way to certain methods of training. We are all different and my personal ethos is ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ On that basis alone, it may not be the right approach for you but saying that, HIIT does come with a proven track record, along with many other reasons to use HIIT as your preferred choice of training.

So, what is a HIIT Workout?

HIIT involves pairing periods of intense high-energy exercise with low-effort rest intervals. Due to its nature, altering the periods of exercise and recovery allows you to create an infinite number of interval training workouts. However, this work:rest ratio should generally be designed to challenge specific energy systems of the body.
HIIT is a combination of brief, very-high intensity bursts of cardiovascular training followed by a set rest period. Think 30 seconds to a minute of sprinting, followed by a minute or two of walking or slow jogging. Repeat this cycle for just 10 minutes, and you’ll complete a HIIT workout.

There aren’t any rules other than work hard for a period of time and break/rest for period before repeating.
Whether your goal is to improve your fitness, lose weight, increase your muscle mass or help to get your blood sugar under control, a few minutes of HIIT can be as effective as much longer periods of moderate-paced running, cycling or that old favourite the cross trainer (not mine mind you), not to mention more enjoyable.

More expletive bouts of 10- to 20-second drills of “all-out” accompanied by a short rest, have become very popular approaches to HIIT training. It also becomes very time efficient as your body can only sustain the high intensity form for shorter durations. This is also a major reason for its surge in popularity. People will always buy into more for less time.
Research has shown that HIIT may outperform traditional cardio when it comes to fat loss. A HIIT-induced surge in your body’s levels of growth hormones and other organic compounds can increase fat burning and energy expenditure for hours after exercise.

During very intense exercise, the heart cannot pump enough blood to satisfy all the muscles. This lacking oxygen delivery to the muscles starts a ‘cascade of molecular responses in most organs of the body’ that produces a greater training response than more leisurely forms of exercise. HIIT can work for a wide range of people. But how you should practice it does depend on your fitness level.

HIIT has been proven to:

  • Improve the performance of competitive athletes
  • Improve the health of recreational gym goers
  • Be an effective form of calorie burning to reduce body fat
  • Assist in cardiac rehabilitation.
  • Display similar benefits to continuous-endurance training in fewer workouts and durations
  • HIIT involves pairing periods of intense high-energy exercise with low-effort rest intervals
  • HIIT can work for a wide range of people. But how you should include it in your routine depends on your fitness level

My favourite HIIT Workout:
One of my favourite sessions and one I have used many times with my clients is known as Tabata
training. This is 8 x 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest. Fast and effective! It is versatile and can be applied
to almost any type of exercise or equipment. It is great on the concept 2 rower, indoor cycle or
just straightforward body weight exercises such as squat jumps.