The Science Behind High-Intensity Interval Training

Experts agree that HIIT deserves its place in the fitness industry. There are many benefits you can reap from HIIT, from improved stamina to building muscle and more. (Image: Stevepb/Pixabay; CCO 1.0)
Experts agree that HIIT deserves its place in the fitness industry. There are many benefits you can reap from HIIT, from improved stamina to building muscle and more. (Image: Stevepb/Pixabay; CCO 1.0)

High-intensity interval training, popularly known as HIIT, is a great training method that maximizes calories burned over time. If you’ve never heard of it, the name pretty much speaks for itself. With HIIT, you’ll be doing short, intense bursts of physical activity, paired with quick intervals of rest.

An example would be 15 seconds of squat jumps followed by 10 seconds of rest, continuing with 15 seconds of push-ups. With HIIT, you can create your own workout routine according to your desired goals and creativity.

The benefits of HIIT are abundant. HIIT is favored by busy fitness enthusiasts because of how intense these workouts can be in short periods of time. Aside from that, you don’t need any fancy equipment, because you can create your own HIIT routine using your own body weight!

Here’s the science behind why HIIT is such an effective workout method, and why you should include it in your workout arsenal!

Burning more calories

You burn calories when you’re working out, and that’s common knowledge. But did you know that you continue burning calories once you’re done with it as well? This process is known as post-exercise energy consumption (EPOC).

During EPOC, the body attempts to restore itself to its pre-exercise state, and this requires more oxygen. Ultimately, energy is being expended at an elevated rate. Here’s what happens:

  1. Your energy carriers, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), are replenished
  2. Reoxygenation of blood
  3. Restoration of circulatory hormones
  4. Decrease in body temperature
  5. Returns to normal ventilation and heart rate

According to a study, under EPOC, the body can burn between 6 and 15 percent of the total energy that was burned during the workout itself. The more intense your workout is, the more energy you burn later!

The ultimate time saver

Everyone has given the “I don’t have the time!” excuse at least a hundred times before. With HIIT, you’ll be burning more calories than running on the treadmill per unit time! This isn’t just a bold statement, and there’s a study to back this up!

HIIT is the ultimate time saver. (Image: Stevepb/Pixabay; CCO 1.0)

HIIT is the ultimate time saver. (Image: Congerdesign / Pixabay; CCO 1.0)

A study in the Journal of Diabetes Research concluded that HIIT routines are superior in time efficiency when compared to regular, medium-intensity continuous training workouts. Forty-three obese women were divided into two groups — HIIT and MICT. This study was conducted for 12 weeks, and ultimately, both groups lost similar amounts of fat.

What differed between the two groups was the time taken each session to reach the desired calories burned. For all the sessions, the HIIT group only required half the time to burn the targeted calorie goal when compared to the MICT group!

Fights metabolic syndrome

If you’re unaware, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, usually involving increased blood pressure, excess belly fat, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels. According to Heart.org, this syndrome affects 23 percent of adults and increases their chances of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.

HIIT is known to combat and reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. According to a study found in Circulation, AIT, or aerobic interval training, was more effective in insulin signaling in fat and skeletal muscles and reducing blood sugar in fat tissue. Other benefits included lowering arterial blood pressure and body weight reduction.

Note that if you have metabolic syndrome, or are concerned about your overall health, it is advisable to see a doctor before pursuing a HIIT routine.

Take-home message

Experts agree that HIIT deserves its place in the fitness industry. There are many other benefits you can reap from HIIT, from improved stamina to building muscle (especially if you’re a newbie!). But I personally love it because it’s an interesting twist to my workout routine when I’m starting to feel demotivated.

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