WHAT IS HIIT?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a short duration (15-60 Mins) exercise regime characterized alternating intervals of intense work followed by rest intervals. It is not uncommon for work intervals to approach 80% to 95% of one’s maximum heart rate (MHR) combined with rest intervals at a much lower effort (eg, 40%-50% of MHR).
What are the benefits of HIIT?
HIIT training has been shown to improve:
- aerobic and anaerobic fitness
- blood pressure
- cardiovascular health
- insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)
- cholesterol profiles
- abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.
Why is HIIT Training so Popular?
HIIT workouts are becoming hugely popular, but why?
- Save time by allowing you to achieve similar benefits to endurance training in shorter periods of time
- Burn as many or more calories during workouts with the added benefit of continuing to burn calories during the post-exercise period (EPOC)
- Can be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions
- Can be used in older and at risk adult populations by adjusting intensity levels to stay within 50-70% MHR
- Can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, and in many group exercise classes.
Is HIIT Training Safe For Everyone?
Regardless of age, fitness level, risk factors, or special conditions, the key to safe participation of HIIT training is to modify the intensity of the work interval to an appropriate intensity. At risk populations can increase intensity levels under supervision of a medical professional, as safety in participation is a primary priority. The safety of HIIT is increased tremendously when individuals focus on finding their own optimal training intensities as opposed to keeping up with other persons or following a specific protocol that may push them beyond their own capacity.
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) HIIT Brochure: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: High-Intensity Interval Training –An Alternative for Older Adults; Michael Whitehurst, EdD, FACSM