High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat that 3-minute interval five times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout. It sounds too simple to be effective, but science doesn’t stretch the truth. Read on for eight proven benefits of this powerful workout:
Super-efficient HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break or to get in shape for a fast-approaching event. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a short 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour. According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.
2. Burn More Fat
Not only do you burn more calories during HIIT workouts, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run.
3. Healthier Heart
Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). But in this case, extreme training produces extreme results. One 2006 study found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.
4. No Equipment Necessary
Running, biking, jump roping, and rowing all work great for HIIT, but you don’t need any equipment to get it done. High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up fast. In fact, some equipment like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because you want the focus to be on pushing your heart to its max, not your biceps.
This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You may be in pain, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!
Next time you hit the gym to do cardio try HIIT training for faster results!
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