Personal Trainer Notes: 4 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
The fitness industry is continuously changing with new tools and types of exercises. One type of exercise that is becoming more and more popular is High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. HIIT is a form of interval training consisting of alternating short bouts of high or max-intensity anaerobic exercise followed by a less intense recovery phase of equal or shorter time. Sessions typically last under 30 minutes. Perhaps you have already seen people performing HIIT with their personal trainer, or maybe even experienced HIIT in a group fitness class.
HIIT has been compared extensively over the last ten years to steady state aerobic activity, with many similar results between the two. Steady state aerobic activity is a cardio workout that requires a steady effort throughout the duration of the exercise. Though some results are similar, I would like to cover four key advantages as to why I believe HIIT would be favorable over steady state aerobic activity.
4 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
1. HIIT is Time Efficient
A limitation for a lot of people when it comes to exercise is time. With families, long work days, and housework, people seem to put off exercise before anything else. HIIT is a great exercise for people who don’t have the time to exercise. A HIIT workout can be completed in as little as ten minutes and can get you the same results as steady state aerobic exercise of much longer duration.
2. High Intensity Results in Additional Calorie Burn Post-Workout
A study from The Journal of Obesity shows that performing a HIIT workout once a day for three days per week can outperform steady state aerobic exercise when it comes to subcutaneous and abdominal fat loss. After an intense bout of exercise (heart rate over 80% of your max heart rate), your body releases hormones that increase energy expenditure and fat burning for hours after a workout session.
Additional bonus: A different study from The Journal of Diabetes Research concluded that both steady state aerobic exercise and HIIT are effective in lowering risk factors of Type II Diabetes.
3. HIIT Also Increases Aerobic Capacity
People who regularly include cardio in their workout routines will generally have a higher VO2max than those that do not. Normally this higher aerobic capacity is achieved by steady state aerobic exercise over an extended period of time (30 minutes or more). Performing 10 minutes of HIIT at least 3 times per week is effective in not only improving metabolic health, but also is beneficial when it comes to increasing aerobic capacity, or VO2max.
Additional bonus: An increased aerobic capacity is essential in decreasing risk factors for cardiorespiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).
4. HIIT Provides Greater Increase of Muscular Strength and Endurance
Weight training combined with the varying intensity of exercise can result in improved cardio, strength, and muscular endurance. To perform a HIIT workout to improve strength and endurance, choose a strength exercise that incorporates multiple joints and muscle groups as the high intensity exercise. An assistance exercise will serve as the active rest. An assistance exercise is a single joint exercise that includes one actively working muscle group. For example, as part of a HIIT workout, a dumbbell squat press can be used as a high intensity exercise, while an overhead triceps extension can be used for the recovery phase.
As a Personal Trainer here at the RAC, I incorporate HIIT regularly with clients as well as for myself. I occasionally will attend the group fitness HIIT class because it really does kick my butt! I love how HIIT helps people reach their goals and really makes them enjoy exercise. I also enjoy that it can be challenging, and the feeling of accomplishment after a hard workout is amazing!
I also like HIIT because almost anyone can do it. If you are more experienced with exercise, group fitness is a great way to get a weekly HIIT workout. Another fun and more personally tailored option is to get a few friends together and ask a trainer about small group training. If you are new to exercise and don’t want to jump right into a group fitness or small group training class, the personal trainers at the club would be a great resource for you to get an introduction to HIIT.
In summary, High Intensity Interval Training is a favorable form of exercise because of the little amount of time it takes for a session, it is optimal for weight loss, it improves the cardiorespiratory system, and also is good for improving muscular strength and endurance. It is something that almost anyone can enjoy and it sure can make you sweat!
Jung, M. E., Bourne, J. E., Beauchamp, M. R., Robinson, E., & Little, J. P. (2015). High-Intensity Interval Training as an Efficacious Alternative to Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training for Adults with Prediabetes. Journal of Diabetes Research, 2015, 1-9.
Lindzey Groth is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and has a B.S. in Exercise Science. She is passionate about working with people and athletes of all ages to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. Lindzey enjoys power lifting and Olympic lifting in her free time.
Contact Lindzey Groth at (507) 287-9335 ext. 311.
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