HIIT (High-intensity interval training) is THE buzzword at the moment. The fitness world is flooded with different types of HIIT programmes and a lot of research is being done to show the benefits. Generally speaking, HIIT describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of light activity or complete rest. The intense burst needs to be “as hard as you possibly can” in order to push your heart rate 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.
One of the main reasons HIIT has such a following is because it’s great if you have a limited amount of time to work out. Some studies show that 15 minutes of high intensity interval training burns more calories than jogging on a treadmill for an hour. Others 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.
For many people, Pilates and Yoga are not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about HIIT training, but both methods can be practiced and adapted in ways that reap some of the benefits of HIIT. As our teacher and creator of High Intensity Power Pilates (HIP Pilates™), Lisa Bradshaw, puts it: “I love Pilates… but I often feel the need to get up off the mat and to work the bigger muscles including my heart. I want to move more dynamically but not haphazardly, to stay within the safe and sensible realms of Pilates. HIP Pilates™ is all about that - standing up, challenging yourself to not fall over, squatting, lunging, planking. It will energise you, make your heart healthier, your muscles stronger, your bones denser, and your smile wider (well it might do).”
If you want to try Pilates and Yoga classes that can make you work more intensely than you might expect, click here>
And for those of you who are not convinced yet, here the top 10 benefits of HIIT, according to Samir Becic, author of the book ReSYNC Your Life:
Helps build endurance
High intensity training adapts to the cellular structure of muscles which enables you to increase your endurance while doing any type of exercise. “Journal of Physiology,” posted a study where people participated in HIIT for eight weeks and the results showed that they had doubled the length of time they could ride a bicycle while keeping the same pace.
Burns calories and fat in a shorter period of time
HIIT is great if you have a limited amount of time to work out. Studies show that 15 minutes of high intensity interval training burns more calories than jogging on a treadmill for an hour.
Effective energy use
HIIT uses a system of work-hard-then-recovery intervals, alternating between high intensity workouts with short resting periods. Through interval training your body learns how to efficiently use the energy that comes from your body’s energy system. HIIT also helps remove toxic wastes from your muscles during the resting periods.Alternating between the exercises also helps you breathe effectively.
The American College of Sports and Medicine said that High Intensity Interval Training helps you consume more oxygen than a non-interval workout routine. The excess amount of oxygen consumed helps increase your rate of metabolism from about 90 minutes to 144 minutes after a session of interval training. Thus the increased metabolism helps burn more calories at a faster rate.
Burn calories and fat hours after you leave the gym
When participating in such high intensity workouts your body’s repair cycle goes into hyper drive. This means in 24 hours after a HIIT workout your body is still burning calories and fat whereas in steady-pace workouts, you may not.
No equipment necessary
HIIT workouts are extremely cost efficient because you need zero equipment! All you need is a little open space. HIIT workouts utilize your own body weight, so any workout that gets your heart rate up quickly such as plyometrics, high knees and jumping jacks can be implemented into a HIIT workout. In fact, weights can actually make sometimes make the workout less effective because your main focus in HIIT is getting your heart rate up rather than toning a particular muscle group.
Lose fat and not muscle
Steady cardio is often associated with losing muscle. HIIT workouts, however, combine weight training (the weight being your body) and effectively allows dieters to preserve their muscle gain while still shedding weight.
Choose your own workouts
The great thing about High Intensity Interval Training is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just running or biking. In fact, you can pick any cardio workout and make it an interval workout. You can bike one day at max speed for 30 seconds and take 45 second intervals in between and the next day you can switch it up to jogging or aerobics.
Good for heart health
They say that extreme training helps build extreme results. It’s hard for most people to push themselves to an anaerobic zone where you lose your breath and feel your heart pounding faster and faster. With interval training it’s easier to push yourself to that level because of the rest interval that comes right after you reach that point. This helps keep a healthy heart and helps blood flow effectively throughout your whole body.
HIIT workouts offer seasoned workouts a new challenge and beginners a quicker way to see results. You are constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone therefore you can never get bored with your workout!