We all know the benefits of physical activity. It is necessary to maintain a healthy life. But almost half of the world’s population does not get enough physical activity. If your daily job is sedentary, it is essential to get moving after work. But let us face the fact that spending hours in the gym may not always be possible, especially when you’re working all day. Just the thought of it may sound exhausting. That is because most workouts are moderate intensity and require more extended hours. But worry not. You can stay fit by spending less than an hour a day working out. Thanks to HIIT workouts. You can reap more benefits by doing high-intensity workouts in less time.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a type of workout that alternates between high-intensity activity and moderate or low-intensity activities. HIIT workouts are gaining popularity in the fast-paced world.
The reason is apparent. It poses a lesser recovery period than traditional gym workouts that take long hours. Instead, the total duration may be short, between fifteen and thirty minutes.
HIIT: How does it work?
Let us consider an example. A whole twenty minutes in HIIT session are divided into small sections of 1-minute intense exercise followed by fifteen seconds of break. Another example is dividing twenty minutes into four sets of five minutes each. First, you run with your maximum potential for three minutes (high intense activity). Follow it by walking slowly for two minutes (low intense activity). Repeat the process for all four sets.
The intense workout and breaks are alternated and repeated for the HIIT session. An ideal ratio of workout to rest period should be 1:1. However, you can increase it gradually. Remember that the rest period should not be longer than the active period. The rest period can be complete rest or low to medium intense activity. It depends on each person’s capacity. Initially, you may need full rest periods. But as you keep pushing your limits, you may be able to do low-intensity exercise during the breaks. The active period should be a burst of short, high-intensity workouts. The active period is focused on burning calories.
Types of HIIT Best for You
It is one of the most popular forms of HIIT. Traditionally, it is a four-minute process. It includes two exercises, jumps, squats, and burpees. Nowadays, people perform any one set of Tabata for four minutes. However, it may consist of many different forms of exercise.
The session consists of twenty seconds of intense workout followed by a ten-second break. The next twenty seconds are a repeat with different forms of extreme activities. Again, a ten-second break follows it. Similarly, you perform the entire 4 minutes of workout. Some exercises are squats, crunches, lunges, Spiderman planks, burpees with push-ups. These exercises focus on the quadriceps, core, glutes, and back muscles.
Tabata form of HIIT is suitable for both beginners and experienced athletes.
Full-Body HIIT focuses on all the body muscles. It includes shoulders, core, quadriceps, glutes, and back. This type of HIIT is suitable for everybody irrespective of their level of training.
Some of the exercises in full-body HIIT are push-ups, sidekicks, mountain climbers, and planks with hip dips. As it focuses on the whole body, this type is beneficial for weight loss. It also helps in muscle toning.
Cardio HIIT is quite intense. Performing cardio HIIT can increase the heartbeat rapidly. Therefore, It may not be suitable for people with heart issues. It is vital to take advice from a doctor before starting this workout.
It may require continuous monitoring of heartbeat during HIIT training. Cardio HIIT targets the core, quadriceps, glutes, and lower back. It helps improve cardio health and also helps lose weight.
You can include weights in regular HIIT workouts. This type may not be suitable for beginners. However, people with experience with weights can perform this type. It targets the whole body.
You can indulge in weight-HIIT to improve muscle strength and toning. It also enhances bone density. Some weight-HIIT workouts are squats, shoulder press, deadlifts, etc.
Who Can Do HIIT Workouts?
HIIT workouts target the entire body. It includes the upper body, core, and lower body. Also, HIIT workouts are very versatile. They combine many different types and forms of exercise. Some of these include cross fit, cardio, weight training.
Therefore, it may be suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced and experienced athletes. In addition, HIIT offers various health benefits that are discussed below.
Benefits of HIIT
Research claims that HIIT may be highly effective in burning calories. It is better than other traditional forms of exercise. HIIT burns 25-30% more calories in a short amount of time. In addition, it may be beneficial to perform HIIT for thirty minutes. The process may include twenty seconds of intense activity. The rest period can be forty seconds. However, you may achieve the best results when the active period is longer.
Within twenty-four hours of HIIT sessions, the body increases the production of Human Growth Hormone. This factor is attributed to calorie burning for long hours. In addition, HGH is also involved in the anti-ageing process. Therefore, HIIT is advantageous.
Fat Loss and Muscle Gain
Various evidence shows that HIIT aids in fat loss from different body parts. HIIT is the most preferred and effective form of exercise. People who wish to shed weight prefer it these days. It may give remarkable results in a short time. For example, 30% more fat loss is noticed with HIIT when compared to other forms of physical activities.
HIIT may also relieve muscle stiffness. A critical factor in HIIT is that it helps in fat loss. Additionally, it helps to preserve muscle while losing weight. Studies suggest that they may increase muscle mass. HIIT utilises the movement of many muscle groups. Thus it helps to build muscle mass. HIIT with weights may be more effective.
Enhances Stamina and Strength Endurance
HIIT needs high stamina and strength to perform an intense activity. By healthily pushing the body’s limits, your body gets adapted to it soon. With practice, people may do the exercises easily and more effectively.
It builds overall endurance and requires less time. Thus, it is easier to commit to. General physical strength, muscle, and bone strength also improves while indulging in HIIT.
Increases Metabolic Rate
Many studies suggest that after HIIT, the calorie-burning process continues for hours. That is due to increased metabolic rate in the body. Another interesting fact is that HIIT uses body fat to burn calories. So, you burn body fat along with calories.
Improves Heart Health
Heart disorders are one of the common causes of death. Improper flow of blood and blockages in the heart may be the reason. However, regular HIIT may correct it. It improves the cardio-respiratory capacity and enhances the heart’s ability to pump more blood. HIIT may reverse coronary artery diseases, the leading cause of heart attacks.
In addition, it also improves metabolism. Studies suggest that HIIT may enhance heart health. It may also maintain blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Improves Mental Health
Mental health is highly crucial when going through a lifestyle modification. Studies show that programs using HIIT may improve mental health. For example, people suffering from anxiety and depression may benefit from HIIT workouts.
Reduction in Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels
Studies show that HIIT may help reduce blood pressure, especially in obese people. HIIT is also beneficial for type 2 diabetic patients. This form of exercise may improve insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.
Improves Oxygen Consumption
Oxygen consumption is the amount of oxygen used up by muscles. This factor is essential, especially for people like bodybuilders. It may also be necessary for athletes and sportspersons. High oxygen consumption gives more energy to perform. Traditionally, cardio sessions improve this ability. It may include activities like running, cycling, and swimming.
But a study concludes that you may find an equal amount of oxygen consumption through HIIT. It is advantageous as it takes less time. For example, forty minutes of cycling may improve oxygen consumption. At the same time, a similar effect may occur in 20 minutes of HIIT. You may also experience excess post-exercise oxygen consumption after HIIT.
Time-efficient and Challenging
HIIT is a very effective form of training. When you combine it with other exercises, it improves your performance. As a result, it benefits athletes and other sportspeople. It is the most time-effective exercise for people with busy schedules.
That is because you can do it in any place, at any time. It makes your exercise flexible, effective, and successful.
Tips to Get Started On HIIT Circuit Workouts
- Always start by choosing an easy activity. It could be running, jogging or cycling. Then, after consistent practice, begin the difficult stages.
- Mix and match different types of activities. Find the suitable form for your body type and concern.
- Experiment with the timing of activity to rest period. As a beginner, it is okay to have more rest periods. But to reap maximum benefit, it is advised to have a 2:1 ratio. The activity has to be more than rest periods.
- Start with twice a week for fifteen minutes. Then, gradually try doing it four times a week. The time should be a 30-minute circuit.
- Always consult a doctor or a physical trainer, especially if you have any physical issues like heart problems, joint pain, bone issues, etc.
- Try exercising in the open air in sunlight. It improves oxygen availability.
- Choose exercises that involve the whole body.
- When you begin, warm up for at least five minutes. It helps in loosening the muscles. HIIT requires high intensive sessions.
- Your diet should be adequate. Plan it to meet the requirements. It may vary from person to person. Consult a dietitian to know what suits you best.
- Motivation is a must. Push yourself but never overdo it.
Some examples of HIIT circuits for beginners to kick in:
Example 1: Total time: 25 minutes
- 5 minute – initial warm-up at the beginning.
- 15 minutes – HIIT circuit: 30 seconds of active periods and 10 seconds rest.
- The active periods include activities like squats, burpees. It may also include lunges, planks, weights, jumping. At the end of every 5 minutes, rest for one whole minute.
- 5 minutes – a cool-down period in the end.
Example 2: Total Time: 30 minutes
- 5 minute – initial warm-up at the beginning.
- 1 minute – cycling at maximum speed.
- 2 minutes – cycling at a slow pace.
- Repeat this set for 20 minutes.
- 5 minutes – a cool-down period in the end.
Probable Risk and Precautions
- As a beginner, it is always better to start with cardio. You may also choose other less intense exercises and move to HIIT in the later stages. HIIT requires strength and endurance.
- There is a high risk of injury in HIIT, primarily when you perform it at a fast pace.
- Strain in muscles and bones may occur in HIIT.
- Some studies suggest that HIIT may increase the chance of kidney damage.
- People with poor heart conditions should avoid performing HIIT. It may increase heart rate.
- Due to high-intensity workouts, the body might produce cortisol. It is a stress hormone. This hormone may cause digestive problems and bloat.
HIIT workouts are an excellent method to get in shape quickly. It is also the most effective form of exercise. It is a life-saver for busy people who can’t find time to work out. However, there are more benefits of HIIT than just weight loss. For many years, athletes have reaped several benefits from HIIT. But now the commoners have also started practising HIIT. It is gaining attention due to its ample benefits.
Beginners should limit their HIIT time to a maximum of twenty minutes. However, if you have good endurance, you may practice it for up to 60 minutes (30 minutes of active and 20 minutes of the resting period). Another advantage of HIIT is that it doesn’t require any equipment. So yes, you can stay fit without a gym membership.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What will happen if I do HIIT every day?
A. HIIT is an effective way to keep your body healthy. However, it is not necessary to indulge in HIIT every day. Instead, you should start with two sessions per week for 15 minutes each. Performing it every day puts you in danger for injury, overtraining, and mental exhaustion. In addition, it prevents your muscles from healing and strengthening.
Q. What are the three benefits of HIIT workouts?
A. Although HIIT benefits you in several ways, the primary benefits of HIIT are improving metabolic rate, weight loss and muscle growth. In addition, it is an excellent way to enhance oxygen consumption.
Q. What are the disadvantages of HIIT?
A. It is safe to perform HIIT under the guidance of expert professionals. However, you should not overdo it. Some disadvantages include higher injury risk, muscle and joint stress, weakened immunity and a decline in mitochondrial function.
Q. Is 20 minutes of HIIT enough?
A. Since most individuals can easily push themselves hard for 20 minutes, it is reasonable for a HIIT workout. However, you can push harder for 28-30 minutes, depending on your stamina and physical condition.
Q. Does HIIT burn belly fat?
A. HIIT exercise helps boost the speed at which your body burns calories. Therefore, it’s a great way to burn body fat, including belly fat. Several studies confirmed that people who did HIIT three times a week for 20 minutes dropped an average of 4.4 pounds in 12 weeks without making any dietary adjustments.
Q. Is HIIT better than cardio?
A. Performing any form of exercise helps benefit you in several ways. However, HIIT is far more effective in burning calories and assisting in weight loss. However, HIIT helps burn more calories during and after exercise than cardio.
Q. How many calories do 20 minutes of HIIT burn?
A. Regular exercise helps you burn 9-13 calories every minute. However, you will likely burn between 12 and 16 calories per minute throughout the HIIT portion of the workout.
Q. Can too much HIIT make you gain weight?
A. HIIT can cause a considerable rise in acute cortisol production, leading to weight gain, depression, digestive difficulties, chronic exhaustion, sleep problems, and cognitive fog. In addition, as per several studies, excess cortisol leads to weight gain and poor sleep quality.
Q. Is it better to do HIIT in the morning or evening?
A. Doing HIIT early in the morning will give you an energy boost to sail through the day. However, that is one of the reasons why you should not perform HIIT (or any other exercise) at night. The metabolic surge and overall rush of post-exercise hormones may interfere with your ability to sleep.
Q. Does HIIT burn thigh fat?
A. You may mix HIIT activities with strength training to swiftly build your thighs. In addition, It will assist you in burning more calories and creating the necessary calorie deficit to lose weight.
Q. Does HIIT reduce hip fat?
A. HIIT is an effective way to lose overall body weight. You can burn many calories quickly with HIIT, and research shows that it’s an effective way to burn body fat. In addition, if done correctly, HIIT helps reduce hip fat.