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Written by Morgan Schaack, RD, LD
on June 13, 2019

High intensity interval training, more casually known as HIIT, is becoming a more popular exercise because of its high effectiveness and little time required. In 2017, HIIT was among the top fitness trends and has only been maintaining its popularity.

What is HIIT? 

HIITHigh intensity interval training is just what it sounds like—intervals of high intensity exercises mixed with low intensity exercises. It is a type of workout where you give your all for a short period of time then rest for an equally short period of time. For example, you do the move for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds or 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off.

Because you are performing short intense bursts, you are getting and keeping your heart rate up, allowing you to burn just as much (if not more) fat as you would during a low intensity steady state (LISS) workout—except HIIT is traditionally shorter than LISS. 

High intensity workouts usually consists of plyometric or compounds moves that are quick to get your heart rate up and get you gasping for air.

Plyometric Moves 

Plyometric-leg-exercisePlyometrics, also known as jump training, is another form of exercise that involves exerting your maximum force in short spurts. Some examples of plyometric movements would be jump squats, jump lunges, jumping jacks, box jumps, plyo pushups, agility bounds, and more.

Compound Moves

Compound moves are exercises that use 2 or more muscle groups to target more muscles in a shorter period of time. Some examples of compound movements would be a squat and press, deadlifts, lunge to bicep curl, planks, etc. 

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Benefits of HIIT Training 

1. Torch calories in less time

Studies have found that 20 minutes of high intensity movements burn the same amount of calories as an hour of walking or light biking. Therefore, in a third of the time, you can torch those calories and be d-o-n-e. So if you are in a rush or really only look forward to being done with your workout, then this is a great way to burn the same amount of calories with less time spent working out. 

2. Improve your cardiovascular systemcardiovascular-system-with-diseases

Research has found that doing short bursts of exercise while giving it your all will reduce your heart rate and blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. Similarly, because this is a more extreme type of exercise, you are getting your heart rate up faster and keeping it up. Overtime, your heart will become used to functioning at a beats per minute (BPM), ultimately leading to a healthier heart and more effective blood flow through the body. 

3. Burn fat faster

We have heard that cardio can help you lose weight and strength training can help you lose fat while building muscle. Well, HIIT training can help you do both. By increasing your heart rate, you are burning calories yet building muscle through the body weight movements. Thus, HIIT will help you gain lean muscle mass while targeting fat loss. 

One study found that overweight and obese adults who performed 20 minutes of HIIT 3 times a week for 12 weeks lost about 4.5 pounds of body fat—and they didn't change their eating habits. Similarly, there was a 17% reduction in visceral fat. 

4. Builds endurance 

Due to the types of movements you are performing during a HIIT workout and the interval training itself, you are able to get your heart rate up fast and get you gasping for air. Overtime, when you perform lighter intensity exercises and workouts, it will seem easier workout outsidebecause you will become used to functioning at a higher level of intensity—thus improving your endurance. 


5. The anywhere workout 

The best thing about HIIT is it requires little to no equipment and can be done anywhere! Most of the movements involve using your body weight to get your heart rate up. So whether you don't have a gym membership or you are traveling for summer vacation, you can still get a workout in—no excuses! 

Conclusion 

Due to the high intensity of HIIT workouts, I suggest you only do 2-3 HIIT workouts a week. This will give your body time to recover. During the other days, you can incorporate LISS or strength training into your workout schedule. 

Overall, HIIT is a great way to burn calories with less time spent working out. There are many health benefits to doing HIIT workouts including burning more calories during and after your workout, helping you lose fat, and lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. 

So what are you waiting for? You heard the benefits! 

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