HIIT is all the rage at the moment with fitness DVD’s such as Insanity coming out, which incorporate high intensity moves with cool down periods.
They burn an insane amount of calories, but is it good for your health? Here we’ll take a look at what HIIT is and what it can do.
What is HIIT?
High-Intensity interval training is a form of interval training in which you alternate between short intense anaerobic exercise and less intense recovery periods. Sessions can vary from 4-30 minutes, maybe longer depending on what workout program you are taking part in.
In most cases you start off with a warm up circuit to get your muscles ready for the following high intensity workouts. These usually consist of repeating a circuit three or four times, incorporating anything from 3-6 exercises. The idea is to maximize the intensity of the exercises and have medium exercises at an intensity of 50%. This causes you to push yourself to the max.
HIIT is popular among those who don’t have a lot of time to go to the gym and want to maximize the potential of their workout period.
Where did it come from?
HIIT was developed by Peter Coe, an athletics coach, who worked with his son Sebastian Coe. The training was inspired by German professor Woldemar Gerschler as they were found effective for boosting sports performance and strength in athletes. Peter Coe training consisted of sprinting for 200m with a 90 second break in between them.
Since then people have been putting their own spin on the idea and taking it to new and improved levels.
What does it do?
The aim of HIIT is to help raise your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout so that you’re still burning fat. It does this by stimulating the human growth hormone (HGH), which also helps to slow down the aging process. One more positive to working out a few times a week.
Ideally you should be doing HIIT 2-4 times a week, any more than that and you won’t give your body time to recuperate. It causes you to lose more body fat than those who are doing the traditional, slow cardio regimen by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass.
What are the risks of HIIT?
Like with any exercise there are risks, one being that you can cause yourself muscle damage by doing HIIT exercises everyday and not giving yourself the time you need to rest. You don’t want to get an injury and have it stop you from exercising for months, all the hard work will have been for nothing. If you don’t rest you are at risk of overtraining, which will put you at risk of colds, viruses, fatigue as well as injury.
Before starting any exercise you should have a medical check with your GP to see if you are healthy and rule out conditions such as High Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease or Type 2 Diabetes, which can be worsened if you push yourself too far.
It is advised that you be familiar with working out and are relatively fit to begin with before attempting something this intense. If you are unsure how to use correct form when doing these exercises it is possible that you could injure yourself due to lack of knowledge.
Something that is very important when considering HIIT, is that you eat a healthy and balanced diet to give you lots of energy. You should not cut down on your calorie intake or fast, as this could cause you to feel symptoms such as headaches, nausea or even feeling faint.
Is it for everybody?
HIIT isn’t for everybody and there’s no shame in admitting that. Before it became popular, HIIT was only being performed by those who were athletes and had great fitness levels. If you don’t feel that you could effectively complete the workouts without causing yourself damage in the process you should work your way up to it.
Some people would say that only the young and fit can do HIIT, which is true in part, but as long as you are fit and healthy you should be able to handle the intensity. However, if you have any joint injuries, such as in your knees or hips, then you should be careful when doing any exercise.
Famous HIIT Workouts
Over the last few years you’ve probably seen this advertised all over TVs and online as a great workout regime that will help you get real results.
Created by health and fitness specialist Shaun T in 2009, Insanity is the most insane workout you will ever complete.
The idea is that you keep pushing your body so that it has to adapt to the changes being made. You don’t need any weights, just use your own body weight.
Insanity is a 60-day workout regimen with a focus on strenuous stamina training. Developed by Shaun T., the Insanity program emphasizes “max interval training”, a method of exercising during which one works out strenuously for 3–4 minutes and then rests or “cools down” for approximately 30 seconds before starting the process again.
There are various DVD’s, all targeting certain areas such as Plyometrics for legs and glutes, Pure Cardio to burn fat and Cardio Abs, which is pretty self-explanatory.
In 2013 Shaun T released another workout that wanted to change the lives of people all over the world. His aim was to put an hour’s workout into 25 minutes to make it easier for those with little time to find a way to exercise efficiently. There are no rests within this, just pure work as you push yourself to the limit.
This fitness system has two cycles – Alpha and Beta. During the Alpha cycle, workouts are centred on building the foundation of total-body fitness. Users will perform cardio that burns calories and improves speed and agility, while developing strength and resistance training that doesn’t require any weightlifting.
Studies show that the first 3 minutes of an exercise are as effective at burning fat as ones twice as long. Clearly his workouts are a hit as over 10 millions DVD’s have been sold since 2009 and has been the #1 infomercial for 8 years in a row.
This is a 90-day fitness program developed by trainer Tony Horton with the secret being ‘Muscle Confusion’. The science behind it is that you use target training to help your body keep growing and adapting, which means that you won’t get used to a routine, which often happens with other workouts. It maximizes fat burning and muscle sculpting, constantly challenging you.
The Program includes 12 intense workouts that use resistance and body-eight training, cardio, plyometrics, ab work, martial arts and yoga, along with a nutrition plan, fitness guide and workout calendar.
HIIT is a very effective way at toning your body and lowering your body fat percentage whilst boosting your metabolism. There are so many health benefits, but at the same time you need to be careful not to overdo it.
You don’t need to spend money to buy one of the many fitness DVDs out there on the market. You can just as easily download an app or create your own program incorporating moves using the HIIT technique.
To be on the safe side it is advised that you go to your GP to see if you are able to attempt this kind of intensive workout. If you do go ahead with this then you need to understand the risks and take precautions such as taking the time to rest and eating correctly.
It seems that the positives will outweigh the negatives for some people.
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