HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a type of exercise with many health benefits. During a HIIT workout, the individual works out in a rotating pattern of very high intensity, about 80 to 95 percent of that person’s estimated maximum heart rate, and lower intensity, at about 40 to 50 percent of maximum heart rate. The work and recovery periods should be the same length of time, and can be anywhere from five seconds to eight minutes long. The length of the entire workout should be between 20 and 60 minutes.

HITT workouts can be any type of exercise you can perform at a high intensity. Sprints, cycling, jumping rope, and plyometrics are just a few types of exercise that lend themselves to a HIIT program. To reduce the risk of injury, warm up at a low intensity before you begin your HIIT session.

At the conclusion of your workout, reduce your intensity but continue to move until your breathing and heart rate are within the normal range. Stretch thoroughly as part of your cool down. You will probably notice muscle soreness the first few times you perform a HIIT workout, even if you are doing a familiar activity. This is due to the higher intensity level and is nothing to worry about.

Benefits of HIIT

Stronger Heart

HIIT workouts boost both aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels, providing a more well rounded level of cardiovascular fitness. Individuals who perform HIIT workouts on a regular basis often find it lowers their blood pressure and improves their cholesterol profile. The short, hard workouts that make up HIIT make the heart work harder, and pump more blood with each beat. This extra work is the equivalent of weight training for the heart.

Better Use of Insulin

Regular HIIT workouts help the body use insulin more efficiently. This type of rigorous exercise teaches the muscles to use glucose as fuel to create energy. As a muscle contracts during exercise, it stimulates the mechanism responsible for sending glucose into the muscle. It does this whether insulin is available or not. After several weeks of this type of exercise, insulin sensitivity begins to improve, and can improve by nearly 60 percent.

Weight Loss

Perhaps the most tantalizing benefit of HIIT workouts is the fact that they help with weight loss. In particular, individuals who perform HIIT workouts often find their abdominal fat melts off, they lose weight without making any other changes to their diet, and they maintain muscle mass during the loss. This may seem too good to be true, but there are several reasons why this seems to happen.

High intensity training boosts your metabolism for the entire day, not just during the time you are working out. This means you continue to burn more calories long after your workout is complete. Intense exercise, such as HIIT, also burns more fat and fewer carbohydrates than slower paced workouts. Finally, unlike lower intensity workouts, HIIT suppresses the appetite, making it easier to make good meal choices.

Adding HIIT into a well rounded workout plan is a great way to boost health, build strength and lose weight. There is no need to make all workouts high intensity. Even one HIIT workout a week will provide benefits.