High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a buzzword in the fitness industry today. HIIT is a very specific training in which there are alternating periods of intense anaerobic exercise followed by less intense recovery periods.
HIIT integrates two effective fat-burning methods, interval training and high-intensity training, for a highly effective style of cardio training.
Steady-State Cardio vs. HIIT
Steady-state cardio and HIIT can both be used to develop your cardiovascular system. While steady-state cardio is aerobic and is fueled mostly by stored fat, HIIT is anaerobic and fueled mostly by stored carbohydrates.
In steady-state cardio, you proceed with the workout at a steady pace for around 20 minutes with about 60 to 70 percent of your maximum capability. HIIT workouts on the other hand require you to perform the activity closer to your maximum capacity for a shorter duration of two minutes or less followed by a brief rest period and a repetition of the cycle for four times or more.
Studies have suggested that short, intense interval workouts are more likely to produce results in a much quicker time-period than longer, slower cardio workouts. Especially in cases where the goal is to lose fat, it has been proven that HIIT is more effective than long-distance cardio.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT offers several benefits to practitioners. A few of them include:
- Builds endurance: HIIT enables you to enhance your endurance while exercising by adapting to the cellular structure of muscles.
- Burns calories faster: You can opt for HIIT whenever you have limited time to work out as more number of calories can be burnt in the same period when compared to a regular workout.
- Increases metabolism rate: The consumption of oxygen increases during a HIIT workout, thereby boosting the metabolism. This in turn helps to burn more calories at a faster rate.
- No equipment required: HIIT workouts do not require you to invest in any equipment and are hence very cost effective.
- Only fat loss, not muscle: Unlike steady-state cardio which involves losing muscle, HIIT workouts enable dieters to retain their muscle while losing weight.
- Good for heart health: It is easier to move into the anaerobic zone in HIIT due to the rest interval that follows. This ensures a healthy heart and an effective flow of blood throughout your body.
Disadvantages of HIIT
HIIT workouts increase the risk of overtraining more than other exercises. There is also a risk of sustaining injuries.
Some of the other symptoms likely to be experienced because of overtraining include:
- loss of strength, speed and endurance
- loss of appetite
- inability to sleep well
- chronic aches and pains or soreness
- chronic colds or respiratory infections
- overuse injuries like tendinitis
- unusual fatigue
- occasional increase in resting heart rate
It is advisable to check with your doctor before starting HIIT especially if you have any medical conditions that might be affected by high-intensity workouts.
Hit it off with HIIT
In conclusion, HIIT is a great method to burn more calories and fat in a shorter duration as compared to steady-state cardio. However, it needs to be taken up under the expert guidance of your trainer for best results.