Top 6 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
Have you been running a consistent distance for some time now, but not seeing the fitness results you want? Do you find yourself skipping workouts because you just don’t have time? It’s time you tried High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This interval training method combines short, high intensity bursts of speed with slow recovery periods of mild activity or rest and helps to improve your performance incredibly. By varying the intensity of your workout, you’ll reap the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic training. Overtime, HIIT can help improve your speed, and endurance.
1. Extra Free Time
Interval training is the most efficient form of cardio, and can deliver benefits much more quickly than typical cardio workouts. In fact, research shows that 27 minutes of HIIT performed three times per week delivers the same aerobic and anaerobic results as 60 minutes of regular cardio performed five times per week. Interval training can also get you in shape more quickly – according to a 2011 study, a mere two weeks of high-intensity intervals three times a week can improve your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training.
2. More Calories Burned
In terms of weight loss, intervals are more effective than long, slow endurance exercise. The intense effort you put in means that your body must work harder to recover, so you’ll burn more calories in the 24 hours after an interval workout than you would after a slow, steady run. During those 24 hours after high intensity interval training, your body can also produce up to 450 percent more human growth hormone, which increases caloric burn and even slows down the aging process.
3. A Big Smile
Interval training creates a surge of endorphins, the natural opiates your brain produces as a result of difficult exercise. Because of its short bursts of strenuous activity, interval training drastically boosts endorphin production, so you’ll experience a true “runners high” and will feel happy and energized after your workout.
4. Increased Speed and Endurance
Interval training stimulates several physiological changes that can lead to greater speed, and stamina. For example, HIIT helps your body learn to burn lactic acid more efficiently – allowing you to exercise for a longer period of time before fatigue sets in. Interval training makes it easier to go farther and faster with more energy, and will also help with other cardio activities,
5. A Healthier Heart
Although high intensity intervals accelerate your heart rate, HIIT can actually decrease strain on your heart. Over time, cardiovascular exercise can increase your heart stroke volume, or the amount of blood that your heart pumps per beat. Interval training maximizes cardiovascular benefits, so it can quickly increase stroke volume, making your heart stronger and more efficient. HIIT also maximizes the other benefits of cardiovascular exercise, including decreasing your risk of both heart disease and high blood pressure.
6. Fewer Sick Days
Interval training also amplifies cardio’s other health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, which in turn lowers the risk of arthritis and other inflammatory problems. Additionally, challenging exercise strengthens the immune system, so regular interval work can boost your immunity and help prevent colds and the flu.
There are plenty of studies now available to prove the benefits of varying your training intensity, and saving some time in the process. Take jogging or running as an example. Try a 3:1 ratio of fast and slow to begin with, after a steady pace for 5 minutes to warm up; 3 minutes moderate intensity and 1 minute at an increased pace in the early part of the jog/run, or you could add 10 seconds of increased pace for every 30 seconds of running in the middle part of the jog/run, and if your really feeling up for it, try a 2:1 or a 1:1 ratio for a few minutess; e.g. 30 seconds at a steady pace and 15 seconds at a faster pace.
A circuit training class would also achieve similar benefits by increasing the heart rate for 8-10 second intervals, at the aerobic/anaerobic stations, but a circuit class also adds some resistance benefits (that running or jogging won’t achieve), with the addition of upper and lower body muscle work at the resistance stations, and thus improving your overall strength and functional fitness (ability to perform activities of daily living).
NOTE: If jogging or running is your only weekly activity, then some form of weekly lower body strength and conditioning is important, and some would say essential, to help avoid leg muscle fatigue.