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What to Expect When You Start HIIT Training

Are You Getting the Results You Want From Your Training?

Achieve great results in less time at the gym…

Sounds ideal as I’m sure most of us would rather not have to spend hours at the gym to get the body of our dreams!

But that’s now a proven fact!

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to see results—you simply need to make sure that the time you do spend exercising is as efficient and effective as possible.

With ever increasing demands on our time, it’s no surprise that there’s been a surge in the popularity of HIIT workouts.

What exactly is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

HIIT has one goal in mind, to increase heart rate during short bursts of activity at maximum effort followed by appropriate rest intervals to allow your body to recover. This gets your blood pumping all around the body with increased oxygen and essential nutrients to your muscles.

It’s no surprise that including HIIT workouts in your weekly training plan can greatly improve overall performance at the gym and leave you feeling energised at the end of your workout.

Numerous studies have shown that working your hardest is key when it comes to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels, and losing body fat. “All exercise will support fat loss by burning off calories,” says fitness expert and sports therapist Marc Dinardo. But, he adds, “to support higher levels of intensity, your body has to work harder and is forced to burn more calories which in turn means greater fat loss,” and that’s part of the reason HIIT is so popular.

The actual activity being performed varies but can include sprinting, biking, jump rope or other body weight exercises.

For example, a HIIT workout using a stationary exercise bike could consist of 30 seconds of cycling as fast as possible against high resistance, followed by several minutes of slow, easy cycling with low resistance.

This would be considered one “round” or “repetition” of HIIT, and you would typically complete 4 to 6 repetitions in one workout.

The specific amount of time you exercise and recover will vary based on the activity you choose and how intensely you are exercising.

7 Reasons HIIT Workouts are So Effective

Here are seven reasons why you can spend less time exercising with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and still get great results:

1. Burn more calories even after you stop exercising

Anaerobic interval training uses the body’s reserves of energy and, after a workout, metabolism stays elevated and continues to burn calories for hours after the workout. This is due to something called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. With HIIT, you not only burn a lot of calories during the workout, but because of the high intensity you will continue to burn calories as your body replaces energy and repairs muscle proteins damaged during exercise.

2. Target extra fat loss

Not only does your body metabolize fat for fuel during the workout, during the post-exercise recovery period after HIIT exercise the body will tap into fat stores for the energy required to restore it to its normal resting state.

3. Increase oxygen consumption to fuel your muscles

Your body burns calories at a rate of 5 calories per liter of oxygen consumed. In general, using exercise to increase the oxygen demands on your body will increase total caloric expenditure both during and after the workout. Short intervals of extremely high-intensity exercise involving a lot of muscle mass require a tremendous amount of oxygen, during both the work interval and the recovery periods.

4. Improve muscle recovery

HIIT produces a significant amount of metabolic waste, including hydrogen ions and lactic acid. The major reason for an active recovery interval is to remove these waste products to allow the involved muscles to perform the next high-intensity bout. As a result, HIIT workouts train your body to tolerate and quickly recover from periods of high-intensity exercise.

5. Improve physical performance

HIIT can promote a number of physiological benefits, such as increased mitochondrial density, improved stroke volume, improved oxidative capacity of muscle and enhanced aerobic efficiency, which was previously thought to occur only as a result of long, slow distance (LSD) training protocols.

6. Develop lean muscle

HIIT places a significant amount of metabolic stress on muscle tissue. As part of the repair process, the body will produce elevated levels of human growth hormone, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 to repair damaged muscle proteins, which lead to increases in muscle volume and definition.

7. Work according to your fitness level

Exercise intensity can be measured with a scale of perceived exertion, where 1 is low intensity and 10 is the highest intensity you can tolerate. For the greatest benefits, HIIT should be performed at an eight or higher for periods lasting 30 seconds or less (or to the point of breathlessness). Recovery intervals should be as long or slightly longer than the work interval (or until breathing is quick, but under control).

An effective workout should have a five- to seven-minute warm-up period to elevate heart rate, a minimum of five high-intensity work intervals and a four- to six-minute cool-down period to help start the recovery process.

Considerations when planning your next HIIT workout

One of the most common misperceptions about exercise that it is necessary to spend hours busting your butt and sweating buckets to obtain benefits like weight loss, muscle growth and improved overall health and well-being. Instead of working longer, work smarter by using short intervals of extremely high-intensity exercise.

HIIT is extremely effective, but it can place a tremendous amount of stress on the body. Therefore, it should only be performed two to three times a week with at least 48 hours between exercise sessions to allow a full replenishment of energy stores and to repair of involved muscle tissue. It is still possible to exercise the day after a HIIT session, but it should be a low- to moderate-intensity activity and use different muscle groups or movement patterns than those used in the high-intensity workout.

For individuals with a training goal related to increasing aerobic endurance, such as competing in a 10K, marathon or triathlon, it is still important and necessary to do high-volume LSD training. For individuals training for an endurance event, using a HIIT protocol can help to maintain your training efforts on those days when time is short and the temptation to skip a workout is at its peak.  

Need further support?

For further support and feedback about your training programme, contact Marc Dinardo, Personal Trainer and Sports Therapist at Fitness Is My Life.

marc@fitnessismylife.co.uk | 07584 623227

Fitness Is My Life awarded Glasgow’s Best Personal Training Services 2019 by UK Enterprise Awards

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