Building muscle and burning fat at the same time doesn't seem like a realistic goal. HIIT workouts make it possible to achieve both, and they also allow you to save time in the gym while still getting great results. HIIT is short for High-Intensity Interval Training, a type of workout that alternates between periods of high intensity anaerobic exercise with lower intensity aerobic (recovery)exercise.
HIIT workouts are proven to burn more calories than traditional cardio exercises such as jogging or running on a treadmill. HIIT workouts also help your muscles recover faster from intense weight training sessions which means that you can get back into the gym sooner! HIIT workouts offer so many benefits, not just fat loss and muscle gain, but better health too.
If time is your number one enemy keeping you from achieving the body you desire, then how about we delve deeper into HIIT workouts?
Advantages of HIIT Workouts
Time is money. We are sure that the number one reason you decided to consider HIIT workouts was because of its high time efficiency. High intensity interval workouts can allow you to complete a successful session in under 30 minutes. That is considerably less time than it would take you to complete a traditional cardio workout at the gym. You can even do HIIT workouts in the comfort of your own home with little equipment required.
Expanding on the previously mentioned advantage, HIIT workouts can be done at home with just a few pieces of exercise equipment. Investing in a couple pieces of equipment is a solid value for money move , as opposed to signing up for an expensive gym membership. You can also complete HIIT workouts without any equipment at all, making them a perfect choice while traveling or on vacation.
Purchase a set of adjustable resistance bands and a stationery cycle and you have an almost perfect complement to complete successful workouts.
The body is a highly adaptive system. In fact, biological systems are the closest things to synthetic AI that exists, since it is technically real intelligence.
HIIT workouts initiate a cascade of changes in the human body, from cardiovascular, to hormonal and even psychological. All these interplays improve the body composition and metabolic state in ways that are not possible with traditional one-intensity exercise.
The combination of muscle gain and fat loss is often seen as an unattainable goal, but HIIT workouts make it possible to achieve both at the same time. These types of workouts also allow you to save time in the gym while still getting real results.
Improves VO2 Max
VO2 max is a measure of your maximal aerobic capacity, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can process. When you increase this parameter it means that more blood is being circulated throughout your body at any given time which in turn will improve other functions such as running speed, endurance etc.
For years, steady-state low intensity cardio was regarded as the only way to improve your VO2 max, but this is no longer the case. HIIT workouts have been proven to increase VO2 max to the same extent as more traditional aerobic exercises. This makes HIIT an excellent choice for athletes looking to improve their performance in their chosen sport, and getting it done in a shorter period of time.
Improving your VO2 max can be thought of as increasing your vehicle engine capacity- you can see how this helps improve performance at any level of training.
Muscle Tone and Definition
One of the most obvious benefits of HIIT is that it helps you burn fat. However, this type of workout is not just great for weight loss, but muscle tone and definition too. Because HIIT workouts are so intense, they help your muscles adapt quickly to intense weight training sessions.
This means that you can get back into the gym sooner and achieve better results in less time. In addition to helping with muscle recovery, HIIT has been shown to increase overall muscle mass when incorporated into a regular routine .
Improved Fitness Levels
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the rewards from interval training. In fact, HIIT may be more effective for those who are just starting out on their fitness journey. This type of training helps improve overall cardiovascular health as well as increase endurance levels. Anyone can do HIIT – regardless of age or current physical condition.
The key, is to start with a smaller number of total intervals. So, for example, if you are performing Tabatas, start with just 3-5 20-second intervals. Over time, gradually increase the number of sets you perform; it is important to stick with HIIT workouts on a regular basis in order to get results.
Benefits Of HIIT Workouts
Burns More Fat than Traditional Cardio
High intensity interval training helps burn more calories during your workout which means that if you combine this type of exercise program with healthy eating habits and adequate rest, you will likely see rapid weight loss within weeks.
People that do high-intensity cardio for just 20 minutes per day can lose about 14 pounds over 60 days while those doing traditional cardio for 40 minutes daily only dropped around 11 pounds on average.
However, if you are looking to increase the amount of actual fat utilized as opposed to overall calories, lower intensity cardio wins here.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity & Blood Sugar Control
HIIT workouts are a great metabolic booster on many levels. In addition to helping you burn more fat, HIIT helps improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. This means that your body is better able to use the carbohydrates you eat for energy instead of storing them as fat.
Exercise has been shown (especially resistance exercise) to increase the uptake of glucose into muscle cells at the post-workout interval, removing excess circulating glucose that would otherwise be present in diabetes.
Overtime, a smart diet coupled with HIIT sessions also make insulin more sensitive to changes in blood glucose and promotes its utilization, while correcting states of hyperinsulinemia.
Endorphins are chemicals released by the brain that interact with the various receptors to foster better moods and motivation. High intensity exercise has been shown to release higher amounts of endorphins, which can lead to lasting positive effects on mood.
In particular, the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, along with GABA which promote restful sleep are all optimized with exercise.
Plus, during actual exercise catecholamines such as adrenalin, noradrenaline and cortisol reduce discomfort created by exercise and stimulate drive. Distance runners sometimes experience what's known as Runner's high, a phenomenon during which pain is blunted and negatives are almost magically reduced.
Occasionally, injuries aren't even noticed until the surge of catecholamines subsides.
Decreases Risk of Heart Disease
The benefits don't stop after you leave the gym! HIIT workouts have also been found to help decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease. This is likely due to the fact that HIIT helps improve overall heart health by increasing your endurance levels and helping to reduce cholesterol levels.
In addition, interval training can help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. So if you're looking for a way to lower your risk of heart disease, with a solid nutritional plan in tow, HIIT sessions might be the answer.
Reduced Muscle Loss
If you are a natural athlete, more does not always equate to better. This is because recovery is a very important aspect of an overall hypertrophy plan. For this to succeed, workouts need to be brief and infrequent.
Lifting weights day in and day out is not the way to go about it. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that people who perform HIIT three times a week lost more fat and preserved more muscle mass than those who lifted weights five days per week.
Plus, because HIIT workouts are so short, they don't require as much time for recovery, meaning you can possibly even work out every other day if you're really looking to increase your results.
However, even though you might technically be recovering faster from the lower workout load, we don't advise pushing your luck too far- or you risk just the opposite happening.
Gaining muscle is probably one of the main reasons you started lifting weights in the first place. The fact of the matter is that there isn't a real and verifiable way to increase muscle mass without weight or resistance training, but what's the fastest route to do so?
For beginners, HIIT might be the way to go. In the beginning, the body is highly receptive to changes that signal for muscle growth and recovery to occur. After muscle microtrauma, or damage, is repaired the muscle fibers become thicker and stronger.
Because HIIT workouts are so intense, they create more muscle microtrauma than the typical weightlifting session. This means that you can potentially see more muscle growth in a shorter amount of time by incorporating HIIT into your routine.
Plus, HIIT has been shown to stimulate the production of testosterone, which is the primary hormone that is essential for muscle growth. Of course, protein intake needs to also remain high.
The same might not apply to advanced athletes, as more volume is normally required for adequate muscle stimulation and to signal the rebuilding process.
Possible Drawbacks Of HIIT Workouts
Increased Risk Of Injury
We don't all possess the same recuperative abilities. While working out every other day might suffice in the majority of athletes, there are those of us that require longer.
Figuring out where you stand is important. Overdoing it and you increase your chances of an injury. HIIT workouts, while short in duration, are high in intensity and can easily lead to overtraining if not careful.
This is especially true when you're just starting out with interval training- your body isn't used to the new stress and it's more prone to injury. So be mindful of how you feel both during and after your workouts.
A good rule of thumb is to gauge your physical and mental reception to the session. If both feel off, don't force it.
Might Not Be Best For Long Term Progression
HIIT workouts, while great on paper, have really only been studied for short durations of time. Most people do not- or cannot, commit to these workouts over the long term.
This is not to say that it isn't possible, but you will likely hit a plateau faster when always working out in top gear. Progress doesn't follow a linear pattern, especially if you've been working out for a couple of years.
A good approach to HIIT might be to use it as a disruptor; either committing to it for 6-8 weeks or intermittently when time is limited and you still need to get in a kickass workout.
Not The Best Choice For Advanced Lifters
HIIT might find itself in the "Goldilocks' Phenomenon", with it not being ideal for absolute beginners or advanced athletes. This is because newcomers need to work on mastering form and technique, while seasoned lifters tend to require more volume.
The exception to this might be using high intensity techniques, such as rest-pause or drop sets as additional stimuli to standard workouts. This can help offer the best of both worlds.
Getting Started With HIIT Today
There are many different ways to get started with HIIT today. For instance, if you are scheduled for cardio today, turn it into Tabata style intervals; working out intensely for 20 seconds and allowing 10 seconds recuperation.
Likewise, you can add high-intensity techniques to your pre-existing regimen, or if you feel stagnant, mix things up completely.
A place for HIIT workouts definitely exists, as some of the best of our time have been forged from it. If workout efficiency is high on your agenda, or you simply don't have enough time, HIIT might be for you.
It's important to note that HIIT is not the end all, but one of many tools in your arsenal- it should complement and enhance your overall workout program rather than creating a substitute circuit.
HIIT workouts are great because they allow athletes to get an intense workout while still having ample time for other non-gym activities or work.