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HIIT Training – What Is It And How Does It Work?

You may have heard a lot about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), it’s a hot trend in the world of fitness, but what is it and what are the benefits compared to more traditional, Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) exercise?


What is HIIT?

HIIT is when you do repeated bursts of short, intense exercise putting maximum effort in then having short periods of recovery. HIIT tests the body’s ability to recover and will push your cardiovascular system to the max.  You only need to do 20-30 minutes of this type of exercise so it’s perfect for those stuck for time. Try 20-40 seconds of high energy activity such as sprints, jump squats or cycling with a 30-60 second rest period then repeat.

The benefits

It’s a great workout to burn plenty of calories in the shortest amount of time.

It’s good for any fitness ability, from advanced fitness lovers to complete beginners, because the level of exertion is directly proportional to your own fitness level. In other words, the fitter you become the more you’ll be able to push yourself harder and still reap the rewards of a HIIT workout.

It’s not just fitness that HIIT benefits, many studies show that this type of training can reduce blood pressure too!

The ‘afterburn’ effect

Not only do you burn calories during the workout but the intense excursion you’re body goes through will really push your body’s repair system into overdrive. This is called the ‘afterburn’ effect. This means that it will still carry on burning calories at an accelerated rate even after you have stopped exercise. However, you must be prepared to push yourself to the maximum on those short bursts to make it truly effective!

The differences with other exercise

LISS can have a high calorie burn and is easier to perform, but fat burning stops as soon as the exercise has finished. An example of this may be running at a steady pace for 60 minutes. It’s easier throughout the workout, but you’ll have to do this form of exercise for much longer to burn the same amount of calories as a HIIT workout.

Research shows that you don’t necessarily burn more calories doing a HIIT workout that a steady state form of exercise but the difference is, it’s quicker to burn those calories so in short, you don’t have to train for as long.

Tips for incorporating a HIIT style workout into your routine

  • Always warm up
  • Give it 100%
  • 20 – 30 minutes of HIIT is all you need

Have you tried a HIIT workout yet? Why not try a HIIT class at a venue near you?