HIIT’s promise seems too good to be true: get fit and strong
in half the time. Is it true? And is it right for you?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It
involves short sharp bursts of extreme activity, followed by a short rest. Then
An example is running on the spot very fast for one minute,
followed by one minute rest.
When compared with continuous moderate exercise (CME) such
as running or walking, studies show HIIT gives similar fitness benefits in a
So what are the real advantages of HIIT, and are there any
Advantages of HIIT
For most people, HIIT is better for weight loss than
High intensity interval training has been shown to
significantly reduce subcutaneous fat, especially abdominal fat, as well as
total body mass.
A 1994 study showed that a HIIT program resulted in a
nine-fold greater reduction in body fat compared to a continuous moderate
exercise program, with a more recent study from 2008 finding a similar result.
- Cardiovascular health and fitness
Harvard Health says HIIT boosts cardiovascular fitness and
produces equal or greater improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar
compared with moderate-intensity exercise.
Plus, HIIT has been shown to result in a reduced risk of
cardiovascular events in both males and females.
A HIIT workout is quick. You can improve your fitness in
less time than with other types of workouts.
You don’t need special equipment. You can do HIIT at home
with just your body weight.
Disadvantages of HIIT
You’ll feel your muscles burn and your lungs pushed beyond
your normal state.
Because you have to push yourself, it’s hard to do HIIT when
you’re feeling flat. In these cases, you might find it useful to do a free HIIT
workout on YouTube or try a HIIT class at the gym.
As always, the best exercise for you is the one you will
actually do. So give HIIT a go, and see if you like it.
If you’re just starting out, ease into it. For example,
switch between 30 seconds of very high-intensity activity and two to three
minutes of slower activity. You can look for ‘Beginner HIIT’ workouts on
YouTube or at your local gym.