High Intensity Interval Training is all the rage these days for losing bodyfat, improving work capacity and enhancing one's physique and with good reason. Interval training has long been utilized as a quick and easier method for reducing body fat and increasing one's overall ability to increase the bodies ability to do a lot of work, while enhancing the ability of the body to recover from strenuous bouts of exercise. Although easier is a bit of a falsehood, which will be explained later.
What is HIIT?
HIIT as it's called to in most social circles involves using one or several exercises performed at very high rates of intensity that taxes the body at near maximal levels for a short amount of time, followed by a brief rest break, which are then repeated for several bouts. Basically, you're going to work really, really hard for a brief time period, take a break, then do it over again, until you reach a point of exhaustion or certain time limit.
Why is HIIT effective?
Now, one reason HIIT is so effective is that fact that it creates a lot of overall work in a very short amount of time. More work performed equals more calories burned!
One can essential double or triple their level of intensity in half the time it takes one to do ordinary steady state cardio (think peddling on a bike for an hour or going for a nice steady jog). This makes it super useful for someone who has limited time available in their schedule to exercise (ie. business executives, busy moms, travelers, etc). You can essentially get the same amount of work in a much shorter amount of time. This makes HIIT the busy persons workout of choice.
Typically, a person is only going to be able to perform HIIT intervals for only 15-30 minutes (not counting rest breaks). If you're able to go much longer than 30 minutes, the intensity is probably too low for the individual and wouldn't be classified as a HIIT session.
This form of training has become very popular nowadays with the lack of quality time spent on exercise and simply having too much other stuff to do in your day.
All around it's a very efficient form of exercise that will allow you to burn more calories per unit of time and increase your EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) rate dramatically. While although it's only a couple additional calories you're burning per hour, say 3-7kcals/hour, you're still going to have a dramatically improved metabolic rate and burn 72-168 more calories than usual. That is a huge increase if you perform some form of HIIT training at least once a week over a year span of time (that's 8736kcals/year).
The real beauty of HIIT training though is the improved ability to do work. Your work capacity is basically how much stuff can you get done in a certain time. HIIT training is great at increasing the human body's ability to get stuff done, which makes everyday tasks and sporting endeavors that much easier.
Think of it this way, you can play soccer at full speed for as long as you want and not get tired at all! It's a pretty nice scenario.
Who Should Do HIIT?
For most adults populations, high intensity training is going to be more appropriate for the younger and fitter crowd (ie. persons who have been exercising for a while and are comfortable being pushed to a high level). You're not going to want to perform a lot of jumping and high intensity exercises with someone brand new to exercise or who is older and faced nagging injuries.
This makes it a limiting factor for a lot of people who have injuries or are just de-trained. A lot of individuals will try and force their bodies through a tough HIIT workout, only to end up really sore and broken the next day, which is counter-productive and they'd be better off sticking with some slow and steady cardio and hefty diet of controlled weightlifting movements to build up their strength and capacity to do work.
Not to say it can't be done, but caution should be placed on the type and level of such exercises to ensure that they are done safely and with enough rest in-between sets to allow for full recovery. This way injuries can be avoided and people can get the most from their exercise habits.
All that said HIIT is here to stay and can be adapted for most people as long as care is taken in the exercise choice and implementation for certain age populations. So if you're out to burn off a bit more calories and only have a little time, HIIT is definitely a must in your training regimen. Just don't overdo it.
Check out some of our LIVE HIIT small group training on Saturday mornings!
If you like HIIT training try out our Bootcamp series in the Armory! The perfect way to burn off some extra fat right before summer!
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Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.