10 Things you didn't know about HIIT

If you are into fitness--a regular at the gym, reading health magazines, researching new workouts online--then you are probably familiar with HIIT, one of the more popular workouts in recent years.  But if the gym is new to you, you might see “HIIT” on the schedule and think, what the heck is that? Even though it is pronounced “hit,” HIIT has nothing to do with boxing and everything to do with an intense cardio workout.   Whether you are new to the gym or a fitness junkie, here are ten things you didn’t know about HIIT.

What You Might Not Know About Your HIIT Workout

1. It stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.  HIIT is a type of cardiovascular interval training made up of bursts of activity separated by periods of low-intensity exercise or even complete rest.  For example, you might follow one full minute of sprints with 30 seconds of walking, then repeat that sequence four times before a complete rest break of one minute.  

2. There is no one set HIIT workout.  Your instructor will probably vary the workout from week to week, so you don’t need to worry about getting bored.  One week might feature old-school moves like football drills and jumping jacks, and the next might involve kettlebells and burpees.  The premise stays the same but the moves change, keeping you on your toes and in your best shape.

3. You don’t need a gym for HIIT.  While many people like the motivation that an instructor-led class provides, it is not a requirement.  If you are on vacation or just can’t get to the gym, you can improvise your own HIIT cardio workout. Think wind sprints, jumping jacks, burpees, and mountain climbers--all you need is a stopwatch and yourself.

4. You don’t need a lot of time.  Interval training packs a big punch into a small timespan, so you can build muscle and burn calories even if you are tight on time.  Some research even suggests that 15 minutes of HIIT three times a week can be as effective as running on the treadmill for an hour. So when you are swamped with work and family obligations, HIIT is a great choice so that you get the most bang for your buck.

5. You’ll improve your aerobic capacity.  HIIT workouts improve heart function and endurance.  For example, one study demonstrated that after 8 weeks of HIIT training subjects could bicycle for twice as long as before.

6. It’s fat burning.  HIIT is great for losing fat while building muscle for overall weight loss and improved tone.

7. It boosts your metabolism.  Even a quick HIIT session puts your body into calorie burning mode for another 24 hours.

8. It’s one-size-fits-all.  There are always modifications to any routine, so you can customize HIIT to your own abilities.  Bad knees? When everyone else jumps, walk in place. You can move at your own pace even in a class of mixed skill sets.

9. It can cure disease.  Well, “cure” might be a strong word, but studies have found that HIIT helps people with chronic cardiovascular or metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart failure, obesity, coronary artery disease, or metabolic syndrome.

10. It’s hard, and that’s what makes it awesome.  Even workout junkies will find HIIT challenging.  The intensity of the intervals provides a challenge for everyone, so you will never get sick of HIIT.

HIIT Cardio + HIIT Training 

No matter the movements, HIIT provides an intense cardio workout in a short period of time.  It builds endurance and muscle while burning fat, and offers enough flexibility to offer something for everyone.  If that appeals to you, try out a HIIT workout at the Fitness Loft of Columbus.