According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, more people than ever began a regimen of weekly workouts during the early 2000’s. Some of the most popular workouts are long distance cardio and the newer HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Long distance cardio is running or speed walking for extended periods of time at a consistent and comfortable pace. In contrast, HIIT Training consists of alternating short bursts of intense anaerobic exercise followed by low intensity recovery periods. Though this training has been gaining in popularity, there are benefits to both types of workouts and some experts suggest combining both for overall fitness. However, current research suggests that there are specific benefits of HIIT training programs.
A More Effective Way to Burn Calories
Studies conducted at Laval University in Canada and by the Journal of Diabetes Research showed that HIIT was much more effective for reducing fat percentage than any type of steady cardio workouts. Over a twelve-week period, a group performing a high intensity routine burned equal amounts of calories as those doing extended workouts. But they accomplished this in half the time. Also, the study showed that the intensity keeps metabolism elevated for hours after the workout is completed. This is known as the afterburn effect, and it creates a condition where the body continues to burn fat cells throughout the day.
A Better Method to Improve Metabolic Flexibility
Even at rest, the body needs to burn fuel for energy to accomplish all of its necessary functions. As we become more active, the body needs to adjust to not only burn more fuel, but also to burn the correct fuel. There are times when the body should be burning fat and other times when it should burn carbohydrates. This “knowledge” and the ability to transition between fuel types is called metabolic flexibility. HIIT training improves the efficiency of this process and increases the body’s endurance.
A Way to Improve Cardiovascular Functioning
It was long thought that extended frequent exercise was the formula to build cardio endurance. But recent studies have shown that intense activity is the most important factor in improving cardiovascular fitness. Interval training works the heart muscle, allowing it to pump more blood throughout the body. The heart’s increased stroke volume provides more efficient blood flow and sends high levels of oxygen to all the body’s organs and the brain. This leads to better endurance for physical and athletic performance and even improves cognitive functioning.
A Method to Increase Lean Muscle Mass
With long distance cardio workouts, it often happens that when the body burns calories to lose weight, it also loses muscle. However, the benefits of HIIT are that it improves metabolic adaptation, the body more effectively burns only stored fat, and muscle mass and endurance are enhanced. There is also less impact to joints, so fewer injuries occur and there is better muscle recovery.
A More Efficient Workout
HIIT fits perfectly into the busiest schedule. As a rule, these routines last between twenty to thirty minutes and only need to be performed three to four times a week to be effective. Achieving goals more quickly and feeling better after the workout is completed, keeps you motivated and coming back for more.