HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training uses short bursts of intense exercises alternated with short breaks to elevate your heart rate, boost metabolism, and burn a significant amount of calories. Interval training is quick, effective, it’s intense, and enables you to accomplish a lot of good for the body without demanding a ton of your time in the gym.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should incorporate HIIT in your workouts.
1. HIIT workouts can accomplish a lot in a little time
In 2014, Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism published an in-depth review of the existing studies about High-Intensity Interval Training. These researchers were looking specifically at time efficiency and found exercisers could improve their wellbeing in as little as three, 20-minute sessions per week. These individuals were experiencing increased performance and improvements in their risk for chronic disease in just a few short weeks. For those who struggle to find time in your busy schedule to get to the gym, this means you can still reap the benefits of muscle building, fat loss, and cardiovascular improvements while only needing to dedicate 1 hour per week on HIIT workouts.
2. HIIT is good for your heart.
We know that exercising is good for your heart, but HIIT may offer benefits that outshine low to moderate exercise. A research review published in 2016 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at sixty-five different studies about high-intensity interval workouts.
What the review found was that there was significant evidence that heart health benefits offered by HIIT are significant, helping overweight and obese individuals reduce their risk for cardiac diseases in a shorter amount of time than low and moderate intensity workouts.
3. HIIT burns body fat.
Many of us exercise to transform our body—muscle tone and fat loss are common goals. The intense nature of HIIT can help us do just that. One study published in the Journal of Obesity observed an average weight loss of 3.3 pounds in individuals following a 12-week program of three, 20-minute sessions of HIIT a week. This same study also showed decreases in waist circumference in as little as 6 weeks. These individuals also experienced an average visceral fat loss of 17%, which has major health implications since visceral fat is the fat that surrounds the vital organs in our body.
4. HIIT can increase muscle tone.
For those who are exercise beginners, HIIT does more than just burn fat, it also increases muscle tone. The same study above that noted weight loss also showed an increase in fat-free mass in the trunk and legs, which makes sense since these areas of the body get shown a lot of love in HIIT workouts. It’s worth mentioning that individuals who have already been working out at this intensity for some time might not experience the same muscle building effects. But that’s OK because you’ll be saving so much time using HIIT for cardio that you can make more time for lifting, too.
5. HIIT can help with glucose regulation
Type II diabetes is an incredibly prevalent disease in American adults. In 2015, 90 to 95 percent of the 30.2 million adults with diabetes were diagnosed with Type II. Those are scary statistics but they’re not a death sentence — Type II diabetes is largely preventable.
Lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, are an effective way to prevent the development of Type II diabetes. HIIT has been found to be a great form of exercise for diabetes prevention because it helps with glucose regulation. A 2015 research review in Obesity Reviews documented decreased fasting glucose levels for those who were known to be at risk for Type II diabetes and participated in HIIT compared to those engaged in continuous exercise.