HIIT or High intensity Interval training is nothing new, but has become widespread in the fitness world. It’s really picking up momentum with all types of exercisers, because current research has found it to increase fitness in less time. Yippee, finally a workout we all have time for!
This type of training is also sometimes called Tabata training, because back in the 90’s the researcher who’s name happens to be Tabata did a study on cyclists using extremely intense intervals. They were exercising at around 170% VO2max (yes, it really says 170% that’s not a typo!) for 20 seconds and the results indicated this training improved performance in both energy systems, aerobic and anaerobic.
Today people have even started to name these ass kicking routines after the researcher. Even though Tabata’s study was like 20 years ago, the findings are still current and more research has been done with comparable outcomes. Living in a fast paced world means more responsibilities and less free time than ever, so HIIT is definitely a hit!
Physiology of HIIT? How this works in the body? Let’s take a look:
It really just comes down to Newton’s First Law of Motion that says: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. This also applies to Humans, which just explains why the people that love to exercise, generally do- and often. That can also make it hard for people to begin an exercise program. Kudos to everyone who is adding exercise as a New Year’s resolution this year, cheers! Stay with it, and one day you too will be one of those people that enjoy it!
Back to the physiology of how we humans work, muscles need blood to move, so as your movement increases your heart needs to pump more blood. As a result of increased oxygen demand, your heartrate goes up. Since the heart is a muscle it responds like one, the more your heart gets worked the larger it gets. This study showed that HIIT can cause those adaptations.
Oxygen Demands and Exercise
As your body works harder, it demands more oxygen. How much oxygen you are actually able to inhale and use is called VO2 Max. Obviously that’s important, since oxygen is definitely one of the body’s main fuel sources, in a sense. My fiancé works on classic cars that move fast so I think the concept is definitely related to those classic muscle cars, they move but at a cost (gasoline!) Generally the more fuel, oxygen you can take in the faster you can move. You guessed it…HIIT can help! Everyone can definitely benefit from having a higher VO2 Max.
At the cellular level, mitochondria are the little long oval shaped things that are the main energy source of a cell. They use oxygen to make ATP, which then gives the cell energy when you’re working out. HIIT has been shown to increase mitochondria, in a shorter time than traditional endurance training.
And a side note…
HIIT and steady state cardio obviously both also get to the metabolic step of activating muscle, but just take different roads to get there.
HIIT torches fat
In this research after 6 weeks of HIIT training, fat burning increased and carbohydrate burning decreased. Findings showed that fat oxidation, or fat burning, was significantly higher and carbohydrate oxidation (burning) significantly lower after 6 weeks of interval training. HIIT also increases EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption), so you end up burning more calories even when you’re all done with the exercise. Awesome!
HIIT or stick with steady state cardio? Do Both!
HIIT is a great way to save some time and increase cardio performance, but at the same time since it is so intense it is a good idea to mix it up with some ol school steady state cardio as well. This will help stave off physical and mental burn out and keep you happily exercising as you reach those goals.
While HIIT exercise can be challenging, don’t let that deter you from a HIIT workout. Any HIIT exercise can be modified to meet your needs, no matter what level you are at. Give the workout below a try. Give it your all and do the best that you can with it! Those endorphins will kick in and you will feel amazing after it’s over! J
Try this 30 minute routine on an elliptical, treadmill or bike.
Warm up for 5-10 minutes
Need an extra challenge…
Top off the workout with 10 burpees!
How to do a burpee
This all happens in one smooth, well kinda smooth motion!
Have fun HIITin’
Do you HIIT, like or dislike. Let me know in the comments section!