7 amazing benefits of HIIT workouts

For those who have never heard of HIIT or high-intensity interval training, they have no idea what an efficient and phenomenal workout this is. HIIT is a training technique that has become quite popular over the years due to the proven and effective benefits a person will gain from using this workout to get in fantastic shape.

HIIT is an intense workout in which a person goes all-out in performing one hundred percent effort through quick, powerful bursts of exercise of up to 1 minute long, followed by a short recovery period of about 2 minutes in length. For example, a good starter HIIT workout is running as fast as you can for up to 1 minute and then walking at a brisk pace for 2 minutes.  Repeat this 3-minute interval five times for a 15-minute workout. 

The reason why HIIT has taken off amongst exercise enthusiasts is because it gets results.  Here are 7 benefits anyone who takes up HIIT workouts will see within time that will make them a believer of why HIIT is here to stay:

1.      Increases metabolism

HIIT workouts will burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially after the workout is done.  The post-exercise period is called “EPOC” which stands for excess postexercise oxygen consumption. This is generally about a 2-hour period after an exercise bout where the body is restoring itself to pre-exercise levels and thus is burning more energy. Because of the vigorous contractile nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC tends to be modestly greater, adding about 6 to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure.

2.      Very efficient and convenient

You don’t get any more efficient and convenient than doing HIIT. HIIT workouts can be done anywhere from at home, in a hotel room, in a park – no need to go to the gym unless you want to. And for those with busy schedules, it is a perfect way to squeeze in a workout during lunch hour or to get in shape for an event in just a few weeks. 

A person can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of HIIT three times a week than someone who jogs for an hour on a treadmill. 

3.      Requires no equipment

Another benefit of HIIT workouts is no equipment necessary. HIIT workouts use only your body weight since the focus is on raising heartrate and keeping it at an elevated rate. 

4.      Improves both aerobic and anaerobic fitness

We are all familiar with aerobic exercise which is certainly beneficial to the heart. But also beneficial for the heart is anaerobic exercise. HIIT workouts provide both aerobic and anaerobic benefits. During HIIT, the aerobic zone includes activities light enough – such as fast walking – allowing a person to carry on a conversation. This improves overall aerobic capacity teaching the body to burn fat as it primary source of fuel.  When HIIT switches over to anaerobic – which is the high intensity level where a person would have difficulty completing short sentences or even talking at all – a person will be burning a lot of calories along with improving endurance performance, speed, and power. 

5.      Improves insulin sensitivity

HIIT exercise has been shown through research to improve insulin sensitivity helping the exercising muscle to be able to more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy. Any kind of exercise or movement does improve insulin sensitivity which increases the ability of the body’s cells to take up glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells of the body. But HIIT has shown an improvement of insulin sensitivity by 23% to 58% over other types of exercise.

6.      Improves blood pressure

To have a healthy blood pressure, the arteries must be able to dilate and stretch as required.  Aging increases arterial stiffness but one way to change this is to do cardio exercises. Since HIIT workouts do incorporate cardio, researchers studied the effects of it on improving arterial stiffness. What was found was that after six weeks of intense sprint interval workouts, arteries improved with their structure and function as much as traditional and longer steady forms of cardio workouts. 

7.      Helps reduce abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass

If a person is just strictly focusing on a steady state of cardio workouts with no intensity or anaerobic movements, it can help with losing weight but it doesn’t necessarily maintain muscle mass. By incorporating shorter exercise sessions using HIIT, it allows a person to hold on to more muscle. Performing steady state rounds of cardio can indeed help with losing and maintaining weight loss but it can also rob the muscles of their size and fullness. Short, hard bursts of cardio help preserve muscle mass. Look at it in this way, compare a marathon runner’s legs to a sprinter’s legs – the sprinter whose entire training schedule revolves around HIIT, has significantly more muscular thighs and legs

IS HIIT for everyone?

Obviously HIIT is a great workout, but it is not for everyone and it is not the only exercise one should do. The guidelines are to do HIIT workouts about three times a week with another two days of steady cardio workouts. It is always advised to have a well-rounded workout regimen that addresses all areas of the body from cardio, strength training, and flexibility.