Burning calories, staying in shape and following a healthy lifestyle are age-old fitness refrains. However, conventional fitness regimes commanding you to grind your muscles for hours at the gym doesn’t really complement your current lifestyle. Luckily, you have a saviour, a huge buzz in the contemporary fitness space, called HIIT. ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ requires you to do high-intensity exercises followed by low-intensity drills. With a less than 30 minute intense workout, it is known to deliver results equivalent to a time-consuming gym session.
In the world of athletic practice, high intensity workout is nothing new. It started as early as the 20th century among legendary runners and trainers - Hannes Kolehmainen, Paavo Nurmi and Gosta Holmer. (Look them up!) But, in less than a decade, it has resurfaced and has become all the rage among fitness freaks and celebrities. It even hit the 3rd rank in the American College of Sports Medicine’s worldwide survey on the top fitness trends last year. The main reason is that it goes well with modern lifestyles that are more geared towards limited space and time.
Simply put, HIIT is a cardio session that involves a short burst of hard work followed by periods of low activity or rest. Typically, a HIIT workout will range from 10 to 30 minutes in duration. For example, a HIIT workout using a stationary exercise bike could consist of 30 seconds of cycling as fast as possible against high resistance, followed by several minutes of slow, easy cycling with low resistance.
While each high intensity burst can range from 20 to 90 seconds, the important bit is to push yourself during each set. In fact, to map whether or not you are working hard enough, fitness pros are known to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale. Essentially, perceived exertion is how hard you feel your body is working. It is based on the physical sensations a person experiences during physical activity, including increased heart rate, increased respiration or breathing rate, increased sweating, and muscle fatigue.
What is also equally important as the short burst of hard work, are the rest periods between each set. For if you aren’t taking the time to recover, odds are that you aren’t giving it your all.
HIIT offers a whole range of benefits that work for your lifestyle and bring health advantages. Here is an overview:
When you have a busy schedule where you want to squeeze in a workout in the little time that you have available, HIIT is your best bet. In fact, a 2011 study brought out the fact that two weeks of high intensity interval training can increase your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training. So go ahead and fit in an effective HIIT workout in the few minutes you have to spare.
With a HIIT workout you tend to burn more calories than longer low intensity aerobic workouts. In fact, with HIIT the calorie burn is known to continue after the workout as well, on account of post-exercise oxygen consumption.
HIIT works as a win-win situation for people keen on losing weight as it helps them lose fat without compromising on the hard-earned muscles.
A number of studies have shown that HIIT helps you consume more oxygen, thereby increasing your metabolism rate. It is this increased metabolic rate that helps you burn fat at a faster rate.
HIIT works for your heart in multiple ways. First up, it improves the stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped around the body per heartbeat. It is also known to lower your resting heart rate, which in turn, reduces your chances of suffering from a heart condition.
HIIT also helps blood flow and blood vessel dilation. These effects have particularly been noticed in those suffering from Type 2 diabetes. People who do HIIT workouts have, in fact, been seen to have better-managed glucose levels.
A recent Mayo Clinic research has also shown that HIIT workouts can reverse the signs of cellular ageing. This is on account of the body’s improved production and synthesis of proteins that fight signs of ageing.
A big benefit of a HIIT workout regime is that it’s not dependant on space or special equipment. The fact that you can use your preferred form of exercise, also endears it to many. You could do press-ups, squats, sit-ups or even cycle or use a skipping rope as long as you keep it intense. Renowned fitness author, James Driver in his book, High Intensity Interval Training Explained, mentions, “You will always reap greater rewards by exercising at the more intense side of the spectrum.”
It is ideal to start with a warm-up exercise to get your muscles ready and your body warm. It also ensures you don’t get injured when you are firing up those muscles. But don’t spend too much time on your warm-up before your HIIT exercises. Just hold on to your chair and do 10 leg swings front to back and 5 times, side-to-side, for not more than 3 minutes. Keep checking the timer on the fitness tracker.
The more you let your heart beat faster during a high intensity workout, the better it will be. You can do several types of exercises in varying intensities in less than 30 minutes. You could start with sprinting as fast you can for 30 seconds and then do a 30-second jog without stopping. Even if you can’t go out, you can do spot sprinting and spot jogging right at home. To keep track, you can go for any of our advanced fitness trackers such as PLAYFIT SW75. Apart from counting the seconds, these will accurately monitor your heart rate in Beats Per Minute and count your steps.
Use a fitness band to check your HR zone when you workout.
HIIT combines both anaerobic and aerobic exercises. When you sprint at a fast rate, your body cannot provide enough energy to complete the oxygen intake. You should then follow up with an aerobic or low-intensity exercise such as walking that will bring your heart rate down and let you breathe properly. (Phew!)
To achieve your goals effectively, it is also important to supplement your HIIT workout with the right diet plan. Depending on whether you want to burn fat or build muscle, of course, you will need to customize your plan. If your goal is to burn fat, it will help to consume around 500 calories less than what is your daily recommended quota and increase your intake of proteins for supporting muscles while keeping your carbohydrate intake low. If, on the other hand, your goal is to build muscles, you may want to consume 500 calories over your daily recommended quota. A high protein and high carbohydrate diet will fuel your HIIT workouts.
While your HIIT workout helps you achieve your goals, it is also important to stay away from the myths that generally surround it. Some of these include:
Wear your PLAYGO tracker during your workout sessions. You can keep a check on all your workout sessions on the “My Activity List” on the PLAYFIT
Now, that you have a fair idea of high-intensity interval training, we suggest that you get yourself any of the fitness trackers by World of PLAY to keep track of time. If you want to pump your adrenaline more during your high intensity workout session, you can always go for our high-tech neckband in-ear headphones.