The HIIT workout - save time, money, fight the ageing process, prevent diabetes & obesity, build muscle, lose fat, feel invincible, and burn calories for 24 hours.
Got your attention? Good.
No - it's not a fitness fanatics christmas wish list, not even Santa Claus can bring you all of this!
It's the benefits of high intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT. So, What is HIIT?
WHAT IS HIIT?
HIIT involves short periods of maximal energy, followed by a period of moderate output, or complete rest.
All out - no excuses.
There's no set formula, but an example is sprinting all out for 30 seconds, then resting for 30 seconds before repeating this process again.
HIIT workouts can last from anywhere between 4 minutes, to half an hour.
The benefits of HIIT are so unbelievable, that everyone in the world should be doing it.
A simple 12-15 minute HIIT session puts everyone on the path to ultimate health, and a better physique.
Get fit, get healthier, look better naked, and do it less then half the time.
Who'd argue with that?
BENEFITS OF HIIT: LOSE WEIGHT
Research (1) shows that just 7 sessions of HIIT over 2 weeks allows for greater fatty acid oxidation during exercise. Further studies show that HIIT is far superior to an endurance style of training.
One study (2) examined a 20 week endurance program against a 15 week HIIT program, and found the HIIT program subjects lost MORE fat, suggesting HIIT is superior to "low to moderate intensity" for fat loss.
The researchers noted: "the metabolic adaptations taking place in the skeletal muscle in response to the HIIT program appear to favor the process of lipid oxidation" (fat loss).
The other benefit of HIIT, is that you will continue to burn calories for 24 hours AFTER your training, as opposed to just burning calories whilst on a slow and steady exercise session (3,7).
Burn calories for 24 hours, look better naked.
VERDICT: HIIT beats the long, slow, time chewing walk.
BUILD MUSCLE WITH HIIT
HIIT training has been found to increase testosterone by 97%, as opposed to just 62% in those who perform steady state cardio (4).
Another study (4a) found increased mitochondria in those who performed HIIT training.
Mitochondria is found within muscle cells, and is the engine room of ATP - the high powered energy molecule responsible for energy.
By increasing your output of ATP - you could well have more power and energy to use on the squat rack, leg press, etc, thus producing superior muscle gains.
You can see why this style of training is favoured by many bodybuilders - HIIT and bodybuilding go hand in hand!
Also, think of a sprinter in comparison to a marathon runner! Sprinters have much thicker quadriceps, while marathon runners are much skinnier.
LEFT: Marathon runner. RIGHT: Sprinter.
It's also much more realistic to expect muscle loss from longer bouts of exercise, as opposed to short bursts, where type 2 fibres are responsible.
Need more proof?
Rugby league players are required to be extremely fit, with some players on the field for 80 minutes.
They are required to be fit, PLUS preserve and contain maximal muscle mass to use against the opposition.
NRL player Sonny Bill Williams: HIIT for optimal fitness and muscle mass.
So to keep fit, and preserve the muscle mass required to compete in such a physical sport, have a guess as to what style of training they perform to achieve this?
Yep. You've HIIT the nail on the head.
IMPROVE INSULIN SENSITIVITY WITH HIIT
Diabetes (type 2) is a world-wide problem, and improving insulin sensitivity is key to preventing this disease, and gains in body-fat.
Whether you're trying to stay healthy, or dieting for a bodybuilding show, improved insulin sensitivity is a HUGE bonus.
One study (5) on this very topic found that just sixteen minutes of high-intensity exercise over 14 days improves insulin sensitivity.
MORE BENEFITS OF HIIT: FIGHT AGEING
HIIT will stimulate the production of your human growth hormone by up to a whopping 450%, during the 24 hours following your session (6).
Given we know that human growth hormone (HGH) slows down the process of ageing - it's just another reason to get into HIIT training!
If you're going to buy some miracle bogus wrinkle cream - at least perform some HIIT on the way to the shops!
INCREASE FITNESS WITH HIIT
HIIT works your entire cardiorespiratory system: your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. HIIT is a popular way for time-poor athletes to train for long distance events.
One study found that 8 weeks of HIIT resulted in participants cycling TWICE as long as they could before the research, while maintaining the same pace (6).
Other research has found an improvement in VO2 max as a result of HIIT, as opposed to longer and less intense workouts (7).
It's clear that HIIT will increase your fitness (and subsequently, your health) in a much shorter time.
HIIT v STEADY STATE CARDIO
The benefit of HIIT is that you can NEVER stop pushing yourself.
You will always be able to run those few more steps every week within your all-out window, regardless of the time period you choose.
LISS - which stands for low intensity steady state cardio, can bring only temporary results to the fat loss table.
So what happens when you set up the battle, HIIT v LISS?
A head to head study (4a) between HIIT and LISS in 2009, found that just 3 sessions of HIIT brought upon the same gains seen by 5 sessions of LISS.
The HIIT group performed a 3 minute warm up, then 60 seconds of all out intense cycling at 95% of their VO2 max - followed by 75 seconds rest.
They repeated this 8-12 times.
SAVE TIME WITH HIIT
For many of us, time is money, not to mention you can skip the gym membership all together with this workout, with your local park being a perfect location for a HIIT session.
A 12 minute HIIT session is seriously challenging, but is far quicker than a 45 minute stroll.
However, the shorter your workouts, the shorter your rest periods must be to get the most out of HIIT.
For example, a 12 minute HIIT should be along the lines of: 30 seconds ALL OUT and 30 seconds rest.
REMEMBER: The ALL OUT period, means just that.
You have to know in your heart that it's EVERYTHING that you have.
This is not a shortcut - it'll be the most demanding cardio workout you ever do, that's why it's so efficient!
It's EVERYTHING or NOTHING, leave nothing in the tank with HIIT running.
Do it anywhere.
Your local park, on the treadmill at home or at the gym, with a skipping rope, in a swimming pool, or on a stationary bike, a rower, whatever you choose!
Alternate between longer ALL OUT periods and rest times, and total workout times, to see which workout suits you best.
Start with 30 seconds all out - and a minute of rest, or 30 seconds all out and a minute and a half of low intensity exercise if you're just starting out.
HIIT TREADMILL ROUTINE
For a treadmill HIIT session, simply conduct the 3 minute warm up at a moderate walking pace. Then - jack the speed right up for 30 seconds, and bring it down for your rest. Repeat this process accordingly.
A Hiit treadmill workout is very popular due to the number of people in gyms. However, feel free to try a jump rope HIIT session in your gym, which is also very effective, obviously just using a skipping rope. Jog on the spot for the 3 minute warm up.
Say hello to a whole new world of benefits, in much less time.
It's time to HIIT those excuses right on the head.
Months after this article was first published - another breakthrough study surfaced, to do with HIIT.
The research (8), involving young healthy adult men, found that just four weeks of 4 HIIT sessions a week, resulted in a:
19%, 14% and 13% increase in VO2Peak, peak aerobic performance and mean power!
The workout performed was 8 x 20 second intervals on a stationary bike, with the resistance set at 170% of the individuals peak aerobic power at 100 rpm.
Not bad results for just 4 weeks of training!
Stay Fit, Stay Flexed!
(1) Talanian, Jason L.; Stuart D. R. Galloway, George J. F. Heigenhauser, Arend Bonen, Lawrence L. Spriet (2007). "Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women". Journal of Applied Physiology 102 (4): 1439–1447.
(2) Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. "Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism." Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8.
(3) Treuth MS, Hunter GR, Williams M. "Effects of exercise intensity on 24-h energy expenditure and substrate oxidation." Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Sep;28(9):1138-43
(4) Paton CD et al. "Effects of low vs. high-cadence interval training on cycling performance." J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep;23(6):1758-63. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b3f1d3.
(4a) Little PL et al. "A practical model of low-voume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms." January 25, 2010, doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2009.181743 The Journal of Physiology.
(5) Richards, J et al. "Short-term spint interval training increases insulin sensitivity in healthy adults but does not affect the thermogenic response to adrenergic stimulation." 2010 August 1, The Journal of Physiology. 588, 2961-2972.
(6) Gibala et al. "Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance." September 15, 2006 The Hournal of Physiology, 575, 901-911.
(7) King, Jeffrey W. A Comparison of the Effects of Interval Training vs. Continious Training on Weight Loss and Body Composition in Obese Pre-Menopausal Women. (M.A thesis). East Tennessee State University.
(8) Ma, J. K., Scribbans, T. D., Edgett, B. A., Boyd, J. C., Simpson, C. A., Little, J. P., & Gurd, B. J. (2013). Extremely low-volume, high-intensity interval training improves exercise capacity and increases mitochondrial protein content in human skeletal muscle. Open Journal of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, 3, 202