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What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

Each year new weight loss and fitness programs gain popularity, then fade into obscurity. How are we supposed to differentiate the latest fad swept up in media attention, from what is effective and healthy? Luckily for us, sports science is catching up to the claims. How does HIIT stand up to the scrutiny?

What is HIIT? 

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First we must look into the methods and mechanics of HIIT. High intensity interval training, combines short bursts of intense anaerobic activity, fallowed by less intense intervals of active rest. Don’t be confused, you might not necessarily stop to rest in between max effort intervals (depending on the workout), will simply reduce the intensity for a short recovery period, before ramping up the intensity. While there is no definitive length for a HIIT training session, they usually last no longer than 30 minutes. When an athlete begins a high intensity interval, they can not hold back, they must perform with max effort, dig deep and find that deep dark place. After what feels like a life time, the interval ends, and you change your pace, recovering with burning lungs and rubbery legs until the intensity ramps up once more.

Why is it Effective?  

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The effectiveness of HIIT is what separates it from fad programs. HIIT is particularly effective for weight loss. While you are performing a HIIT workout you will burn a fair amount of calories, but it’s the residual caloric burn after the workout that sets HIIT apart. Elevated Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, is the source of this “after burn” of calories. This occurs by creating an oxygen debt in the body, while preforming an intense anaerobic activity. Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption is the bodies reaction to oxygen debt, as it restores homeostasis. 

What are the Downsides? 

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The sure intensity of HIIT opens you up to a series of risk factors, especially for inexperienced athletes performing complicated movements. Many HIIT programs try to incorporate a large variety of muscle, this might introduce movements you have never done, doing these quickly and repetitively may cause injury. Like any other fitness program you need a baseline of athletic ability, and no physical ailment that may put you at additional risk. Anyone can get into HIIT training, but it is sometimes necessary to consult a professional for advice or training.

What are the Workouts?

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HIIT has been adapted by a variety of different sports and fitness programs, as a result the sheer amount of HIIT workouts is astounding. You are free to choose what ever program suites your abilities and goals. Here is one of my favorite HIIT workouts as an example. 

“Tabata This!”

Tabata Row
Rest 1 minute
Tabata Squat
Rest 1 minute
Tabata Pull-up
Rest 1 minute
Tabata Push-up
Rest 1 minute
Tabata Sit-up

Granted you need a rowing machine to do the proper workout, but you can easily substitute or omit the row. For”Tabata This!” you have 20 seconds of work, fallowed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds before you move onto the next movement. Say you start on the squats, you do as many squats as possible in 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then you continue squatting, while trying to match the number of reps each round. Once you have completed all 8 rounds, rest for one minute, then move on to the next movement. “Tabata This!” is meant to be a work out you can score, and attempt to improve the score as you progress through your fitness regiment. To score”Tabata This!” you take the lowest amount of reps you got in a single round for each movement, then add them together for a total. This method of scoring is meant to motivate you to not only go hard out of the gate, but maintain that number through all 8 rounds.  

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About the author

Viance Nutrition

Hi! I'm Walt Landi the founder and CEO of Viance Nutrition. Welcome to our Blog. I maintain this Blog as a free resource for anyone wishing to improve their health. Your comments and feedback are always welcomed and you can email me direct at walt@viance.com if you have any suggestions. Thanks. Ps. Spread the word and check out our products at viance.com. :)