The Benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

I posted something earlier on my Geezersgetfit.com website and Facebook page about HIIT training, but since I have been doing this training myself for a few months and really like the results, I would like to explain it to you in more detail. The primary difference between HIIT (High Intensive Interval Training) and a normal workout is that you go as hard as you can (all-out) at an exercise for 20 seconds then slow down enough to recover for 40 seconds. You do this 20 times or 20 minutes per session. The 20 minutes may be increased as you progress your fitness level. As with any workout, you should warm-up for about 10 minutes before starting.  

An example of this is running as fast as you can for 20 seconds, then speed walk for 40 seconds. Do that 20 times in a row. What I like to do is run up steps as fast as I can for 20 seconds and walk back down the same steps for 40 seconds and do that at least 20 times. Because we need to hold on to the handrail so we don’t fall, it is easier for me to loosely hold on to the handrail and go up two steps with each step as quickly as I can. You can also do this weightlifting with heavy weights to accomplish the same thing by doing one set quickly for 20 seconds and a second set slowly for 40 seconds. I also like to do supersets (two or more sets in a row without stopping) using different muscle groups. You can also do more than one muscle group at a time such as arm curls while doing squats. Other exercise examples are biking, jump rope or other bodyweight exercises.

These workouts are anaerobic, which means your burn oxygen and energy already stored in the body (glycogen) VS oxygen breathed in, as you do in aerobic exercises. If anaerobic exercise sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. But the benefits that come with the intense fitness regime are enough to make you want to power through your next workout. Following are some of the major benefits of this type of training:

1. Increases bone strength and density

Anaerobic activity — like resistance training — can increase the strength and density of your bones. This can also decrease your risk of osteoporosis.

2. Promotes weight maintenance

In addition to helping your body handle lactic acid more effectively; anaerobic exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. One studyTrusted Source examining the effects of high-intensity training found that while the effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is small, HIIT training can result in modest reductions in stomach body fat. Additionally, one study found that people performing HIIT three times per week for 20 minutes per session lost 4.4 pounds, or 2 kgs, of body fat in 12 weeks — without any dietary changes (16Trusted Source). 

SUMMARY: High-intensity intervals can produce similar fat loss to traditional endurance exercise, even with a much smaller time commitment. They can also reduce unhealthy visceral fat.

3. Increases power

It can increase your power. A 2008 study conducted on division 1A baseball players found that players who did eight 20- to 30-second wind sprints three days a week saw their power increase by an average of 15 percent throughout the season.

4. Boosts metabolism

Anaerobic exercise helps boost metabolism as it builds and maintains lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn during your next sweat session. High-intensity exercise will increase your post-workout calorie burn and increase the calories you burn throughout the day.

5. Increases lactic threshold

By regularly training above your anaerobic threshold, the body can increase its ability to handle lactic acid, which increases your lactic thresholdTrusted Source, or the point at which you experience fatigue. That means you’ll be able to work out harder, for longer.

6. Fights depression

Need a pick-me-up? Studies show that anaerobic exercise, like strength training, can boost your moodTrusted Source and even fight depression.

7. Reduces the risk of disease

Gains in strength and bone density attained by high-intensity anaerobic training, like bodyweight squats and pushups, can reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

8. Protects joints

By building your muscle strength and muscle mass, your joints will be better protected, meaning you’ll have greater protection against injury.

9. Boosts energy

Consistent anaerobic exercise increases your body’s ability to store glycogen (what your body uses as energy), giving you more energy for your next bout of intense physical activity. This can improve your athletic ability.

10. It Can Reduce Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

A large amount of research indicates that it can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals, who often have high blood pressure (20). One study found that eight weeks of HIIT on a stationary bike decreased blood pressure as much as traditional continuous endurance training in adults with high blood pressure (7Trusted Source). In this study, the endurance training group exercised four days per week for 30 minutes per day, but the HIIT group only exercised three times per week for 20 minutes per day.

Some researchers have found that HIIT may even reduce blood pressure more than the frequently recommended moderate-intensity exercise (29Trusted Source). However, it appears that high-intensity exercise does not typically change blood pressure in normal-weight individuals with normal blood pressure (20).

SUMMARY: HIIT can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, primarily in overweight or obese individuals with high blood pressure.

11. Blood Sugar Can Be Reduced by HIIT

Blood sugar can be reduced by HIIT programs lasting less than 12 weeks (2030Trusted Source). A summary of 50 different studies found that not only does HIIT reduce blood sugar, but it also improves insulin resistance more than traditional continuous exercise (31Trusted Source). Based on this information, it is possible that high-intensity exercise is particularly beneficial for those at risk for type 2 diabetes.

In fact, some experiments specifically in individuals with type 2 diabetes have demonstrated the effectiveness of HIIT for improving blood sugar (32Trusted Source). However, research in healthy individuals indicates that HIIT may be able to improve insulin resistance even more than traditional continuous exercise (27Trusted Source).

SUMMARY: High-intensity interval training may be especially beneficial for those needing to reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance. These improvements have been seen in both healthy and diabetic individuals.

Takeaway

Anaerobic exercises push your body and lungs to rely on energy sources stored in your muscles. The meaning of the term translates to “without oxygen.”

People may avoid anaerobic training because it is hard. Yet by practicing simple anaerobic exercises, like high-intensity interval training, sprints, and heavyweight training, you can reap the benefits of this powerful workout.

While most people know that physical activity is healthy, it’s estimated that about 30% of people worldwide don’t get enough (1Trusted Source). Unless you have a physically demanding job, a dedicated fitness routine is likely your best bet for getting active.

Unfortunately, many people feel that they don’t have enough time to exercise (2Trusted Source3Trusted Source). If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). One of the biggest advantages of HIIT is that you can get maximal health benefits in minimal time.

Unlock Your Fountain of Youth by Unlocking These Six Elements of Energy

business man jump with blue sky, full length, asian male

1. Air: The most critical element for energy, or even life, is oxygen. Without Oxygen we would die in just a few minutes. Since it is just about everywhere and it’s free and easy to get you would think getting enough would never be a problem. However, in order to receive a good supply of oxygen we must breathe properly. Unfortunately, unless we are a long distance runner or athlete we get into the habit of taking shallow breaths through our mouths using only the chest muscles around our rib cage. To ensure we receive enough oxygen for good energy we need to breathe deeply using our diaphragm at the bottom of our lungs. Breathing through the nose helps filter and warm up the air before reaching the lungs. Breathing this way will deliver much more oxygen to our bodies for increased energy. Do the following exercise to increase your oxygen supply and get into the habit of breathing correctly:

Take a full breath in, using your diaphragm and breathing through your nose. Count to 5 slowly(count thousand one, thousand two, etc) as you breath in. At the end of 5 counts do the same thing as you breathe out fully. Do this 5 times to complete the exercise.   Complete this exercise 5 times each day until you get into the habit of breathing this way. You can tell this works because if you take in really large breaths too quickly you will get a little dizzy.

2. Water: The second most important element for life and energy is water. We can only live a few days without it. 60% of our bodies are made up of water and some parts an even higher percentage. Our bodies cannot function properly without an adequate supply. Some of the most critical uses is to digest our food and deliver fuel to our muscles (through blood) to burn for energy. It is also used to expel carbon dioxide and waste from our body. Again, since water is so easy to obtain in this country you would not expect the lack of water to be a problem, but it is with a large percentage of us. A good “rule of thumb” to ensure we consume an adequate supply is to consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. You may need more at times if you are doing something that may cause you to perspire heavily. NO!! Coffee, beer, wine and many other liquids we love do not count due to their dehydrating properties.

 3. Food: This is by far the most complicated of the six items I will discuss and it would take a long time to fully cover it so I will just make a few comments. Good food is critical to our bodies for energy, health and life. People have been known to live for months without food because of all the fat and other sources of energy stored in their bodies, so, in that sense, it is not as critical to life in the short term as the first two items. The type and amount of food we eat will determine our quality of health and weight as well as our energy levels. Since this element is much more costly and more difficult to obtain than the first two you would expect all people to suffer a lack of food. However, in this country we seem to consume too much, especially the bad foods.

One thing that makes this subject so complicated is that we hear so many different and often conflicting reports on which foods are healthy and which aren’t. One of many examples of that is; I heard since I was a child how important dairy products were to my good health, but now, after some research, I have read several reports stating how unhealthy dairy products are, especially for adults.

You would expect the FDA and our politicians to help us out on this important issue but they actually make it more difficult for us. They do more harm than good. We have to be very careful about what reports we believe.  When we hear the results of a new research project that may find certain foods or drinks are good for us it’s always a good idea to check to see who funded the research and, if you can, find out if there are any political contributions involved that may sway the report one way or another.  

It’s also very easy to get sucked in by great marketing. Skilled marketers can make just about any food seem much better and healthier than it is. A great example is some of the soft drink commercials. Watching their commercials make you believe you can’t live without their product when in most cases it is very unhealthy. Also, some foods are good for some of us and bad for others because we are all different.

Another major source of confusion is all the diets you hear about. In the long run most diets don’t work nearly as well as simply using your common sense and eat the way you know you should. If you need help seek a good registered dietician. There again, what works for some of us may not work for others.  

4. Exercise: Our bodies are made to move, not sit in one spot all day. The old term “use it or lose it” definitely applies to our muscles and energy supply. Our bodies will adapt to the conditions we put it under, either good or bad. One great example I see of this is the ever increasing number of men I see with their heads tilted forward and their bodies slumped over. What do you think causes this? If you spend a large part of your day every day slumped over a computer or cell phone your body will retain that shape. However, there are simple things you can do to prevent or correct this problem. The longer you let it go the more difficult it is to correct.

Experts say we need a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week that elevates your heart rate(cardio) and keeps your muscles working properly. If we don’t do this it will gradually become more difficult to move and our energy supply will continue to decline and be stored as fat. There are many other bad things that will happen to our bodies if we don’t get an adequate amount of exercise. If you want to keep the fat off, you need to eat and drink the way you know you should and keep up your body’s metabolism. The calories you burn during the exercise are usually not as much as the extra calories you burn all day long with a higher metabolism. 

I walk and run 2 and one quarter miles to my gym and back about four times per week and I work out at least 45 minutes each time. I can honestly say I like doing that so it is not difficult for me to do. When I walk or run I feel like I weigh 100 pounds when I actually weigh 200! That’s a great feeling! It makes me sad to think that many other people don’t or maybe never experienced that feeling.

Just like your muscles, it’s also very important to exercise your brain frequently. No! Watching TV or movies does not exercise your brain; however, there are certain games that will.

5. Rest: Your body, primarily your brain, needs a certain amount of rest in order to repair, rebuild and recharge itself.  If we don’t receive the required amount of rest it will have a bad effect on our bodies and energy supply the next day. All our bodies are different so we all need different amounts of sound sleep. The most common amount we hear is 8 hours but for some people it could be a little less.   

6. Attitude: Our attitude is extremely important, not only to our energy supply but our quality of life. The great news is this may be the easiest of the six items to adjust and control and likely the most important for you! It’s difficult for most people to comprehend just how much effect their attitude has on the quality of their lives. We all know people that seem to smile and be happy all the time and we know those that complain and seem to be in a bad mood all the time.  This happens even if both people live under the exact same conditions. If you think you are tired you will be tired. If you think life is difficult it will be difficult. Do you remember the old quote “Whether you think you can or you can’t you are correct”? Just a simple change in your attitude will have a huge effect on your life, either good or bad.