What is HIIT Exercise?

Hight Intensity Interval training is nothing new these days. It’s called HIIT and has many advantages when it comes to fat loss, maintaining muscle mass and building endurance. When you hear people saying they’ve been doing HIIT for 40 minutes or an hour, you can know they aren’t doing true HIIT exercises. For it is extremely difficult to get in 20 minutes done right, much less more than that.

What HIIT Is Not

You can definitely do interval training all day, but that is not the same as High-Intensity Intervals for weight loss. The difference is that interval training is alternating a rather easy set with a high intensity set. HIIT, on the other hand, is a set of maximum exertion followed by no exertion. When a person is actually full out with real 100% exertion, it’s next to impossible to go for more than 20 seconds.

For example, if you walk on a treadmill for 4 or 5 minutes at a brisk pace and double the pace for 4 or 5 minutes, repeating this for several times for 1/2 hour — that is not HIIT. It was interval training. And I’m not saying that’s a bad workout, just not HIIT training.

What HIIT Is

The most intense and effective HIIT method is Tabata, and last for only 4-5 minutes. You can’t withstand it for longer than that when done correctly. You might spend 5-10 minutes on a treadmill to warm up and then do nothing for a minute, followed immediately by 15 – 30 seconds of completely all out stair-stepping.

You have to understand that the HIIT interval for 15-30 seconds on the stair stepper is 100%. Nothing can be held back, it’s absolutely as fast and hard as you can move your body. You can compare it to an all-out sprint out of the gate to the end.

And it’s important to note that the stair stepper is no more than an example. There are countless ways to incorporate it into your own exercise routine. A lot of people use exercise bikes and elliptical machines.

Not for Everyone

woman in pain from doing HIIT exercise
HIIT exercise is so intense it’s not for everyone

But the fact is, that HIIT is not for everyone and beginners should be careful. You need to be in good shape to start with, or use your head and start out with the exact methods for shorter intense levels and longer rest intervals. It is definitely possible to burn plenty of calories and bring your level of endurance and fitness up this way.

Because it is so intense it’s easy to overtrain and risk injury when your fitness levels aren’t up to it. So my advice is for anyone, regardless of their fitness level, to do an easy session or several, and work your way up to 100% exertion.

For the best results with Tabata HIIT do it once a week. Combining it with other forms of exercise and training the rest of the week will quickly reduce fat and increase strength. Also try doing it for a month or two, leaving it off completely for a month and then come back to it. That’s because your body will always try to acclimate itself to your workouts and you won’t get as much out of them as you did.

How to Get Started

Warming Up Cold Muscles

You never want to stress any muscles with exercise without warming up first, whether it’s running or weight lifting. One way to think about a warm up is as the same exercise you are about to undertake, only at a much slower pace. These warm ups are even more significant when it comes to HIIT due to the extreme force you are about to exert.

man warming up muscles on treadmill before doing HIIT
I like to warm up slowly and thoroughly on a treadmill before doing HIIT cardio

Warming up for exercise does a couple of different things. First they get plenty of oxygen and blood flowing through the body and that brings the temperature up. Cold muscles are far more prone to injury than warm ones when it comes to the shock of stressing them. And the colder the outside temperature, the longer it takes them to adequately warm.

Because HIIT sessions are much more extreme and violent than ordinary exercises, the risk of damaging cold muscles is multiplied. So adequate warming up of muscles prior to each session is absolutely vital.

Intervals are for Recuperating

High-Intensity Interval training means there are two equally important intervals involved. One is the aerobic interval where you are in a state of complete exertion, and the other is anaerobic where you rest. Both are equally important to the process.

Rest intervals give your body a chance to rest and get your heart rate down. It’s during this period that oxygen is thoroughly circulated throughout your entire body. Besides your body now needing the resurgence of oxygen, most fat cells are eliminated from your body with exhalations of carbon dioxide. Interval training means each is just as important as the other.

What Makes HIIT Exercises So Powerful

1. Increases Stamina

I don’t know of anything that increases your stamina like HIIT. You might think long sessions of cardio is the best method of increasing your endurance levels, but this far superior. Nothing is harder than this form of exercise, and endurance is always increased by adding more periods of higher than normal exertion.

You’re constantly operating at your VO2 max. (VO2 max is in general terms operating at your personal maximum oxygen intake levels). Working out in this state is where your stamina and endurance levels increase drastically.

2. Helps build lean muscle

Nothing increases lean muscle mass like pushing yourself to lift more and more with each workout. However, Tabata workouts do aid in building lean muscle due to their always being full-body workouts.

So, you can burn fat and build some lean muscle.

3. Stubborn fat stores give up

We all have spots of fat, especially belly fat that just won’t give up. When you do HIIT, you are forcing your body to breath very deeply to burn more fuel needed for energy.

And that doesn’t end with the workout. Your body spends hours replenishing the oxygen used, therefore reaching deep into stubborn fat stores.

And HIIT demands a lot of energy.

Conclusion

By no means is HIIT an easy way to train. It’s so hard, only the most exuberant will pursue it. The good news is that only last a few minutes, and the work is over. But the results are fantastic, to say the least.

Done correctly, you can’t go on for more than a few minutes, and your body continues burning fat for hours. In a very short time, you will look leaner, be far more energized, and feel much better. No matter what your own fitness regimen happens to be, working HIIT into it provides serious results.

And the thing about hit is that it works in any exercise you incorporate it in.

Try HIIT on one of my favorite home cardio machines and change your body fast!

If you are a walker, you can walk as fast as you can until you must stop for air. Now walk at your regular pace just until you can stop gasping, and go full throttle again.

What HIIT does is to simply cause you to reach for much more oxygen use than normal for very short and intense periods. Try it yourself, you will love the results.

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