When we think of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘wow that looks tough. Can I really do that without embarrassing myself?’ But you can’t deny the fact that those who manage to stick to it and complete their HIIT workouts are exactly as fit and lean as we want to be.
The difference between traditional fitness training and interval training routines like HIIT is easily spotted. Fitness training is a workout that has a series of continuous exercises that are done with constant intensity. On the other hand, interval training works by alternating intense and fast paced workout exercises with slow exercises meant for the recovery of your muscles.
The reason HIIT is so popular these days is that unlike traditional workouts, it provides you the training you need to burn more calories which enhancing your athletic performance including your strength, speed, stamina, endurance as well as your willpower and motivation.
Initially, High Intensity Interval Training or internal training was called Fartlek which has been around for a few years before HIIT was popularized. Fartlek is a training program that is designed to train athletes and uses short bursts of high intensity exercises that alternate with easier exercises.
The main aim at Fartlek was to produce a training routine that managed to give the athlete the training he/she needed in the least amount of time possible.
What Is Interval Training?
Interval training is a scientifically created method of fitness training that is more complex and easier on the body compared to its parent Fartlek training. Instead of dealing with the build-up of lactic acid when performing Fartlek, HIIT is designed with a recovery period between the high intensity exercises to prevent lactic acid build-up.
Scientists have discovered that during recovery in a High Intensity Interval Training workout, the participants are asked to constantly move around which causes the lactic acid in the muscles to be converted to energy.
These days, there are many variations of interval training like HIIT and others. These follow the same principle of interval training but alter the duration and intensity of the workouts as well as the recovery periods. What this allows the trainers to do is tailor the training to suit the athlete or end-goal of the participants.
Many professional athletes are training using HIIT as this training routine can be scientifically altered to each athlete without compromising on the results achieved. The way this is done is by having trainers and physiologists measure the specific amounts of time during an athlete’s sport or game and tailor-make a HIIT routine that provides the best results.
Anaerobic threshold testingis usually used to measure the duration and intensity of the athlete during their particular activity. This type of testing involves taking blood-lactate measurements of the athlete.
How Does High Intensity Interval Training Work?
Due to the intense periods of exercise while conducting High Intensity Interval Training, the aerobic and anaerobic systems in the body are trained and taxed.
The anaerobic system works by converting stored energy (in the form of glycogen) from the muscles to produce short bursts of exercises. This doesn’t require oxygen which is why lactic acid builds up in the muscles after anaerobic exercises.
After the anaerobic part of HIIT, recovery period allows the lungs and heart to supply the body with oxygen to breakdown the lactic acid build-up. This aerobic system uses the oxygen to than convert the stored carbohydrates back into glycogen.
What Are The Benefits Of High Intensity Interval Training?
There are several key benefits of High Intensity Interval Training that can help people achieve their workout goals without excess fatigue and with greater intensity. This intensity during exercises helps the body to adapt to the HIIT and drastically improve performance over a short period of time.
Here are the other advantages of HIIT:
Improves exercises when trying out new activities or sports.
Chances of previous injuries from long term repetitive exercises flaring up or becoming worse are lessened.
Athletic performance is improved due to the increased tolerance for lactic acid build-up and a more versatile cardiovascular system.
Promotes overall fitness and aerobic power.
The body creates new capillaries that help bring oxygenated blood to the muscles which strengthen the muscles which includes the heart muscle.
High Intensity Interval Training can be applied to professional athletes as well as beginners and everyone else in between.
What Are The Different Types Of High Intensity Interval Training?
There are two major types of High Intensity Interval Training which are geared towards performance and fitness:
Performance Interval Training: This performance orientated High Intensity Interval Training is designed specifically for advanced participants and professional athletes. This training is a lot more strenuous and is not recommended for beginners.
The period of intensity usually varies between two to fifteen minutes where the heart rate reserve is used at about 85%-100%. This high intensity exercise then becomes a low intensity exercise, but for a shorter period of time.
Fitness Interval Training: This High Intensity Interval Training is great for novice beginners and intermediate participants. The basic guideline of this type of High Intensity Interval Training is that there is an increased intensity of activity for 2-5 minutes which than becomes a low intensity activity for the same period of time.
One point to note is that you should not pick a level that exceeds the anaerobic limit of 85% below the heart rate reserve.
What Are The Most Common Types of High Intensity Interval Training?
Here are some of the most common types of High Intensity Interval Training:
Plyometric Jumping Exercises
30-Second Sprint Drills
Sprint and Speed Training Drills
Explosive Exercise Training
The biggest advantage of High Intensity Interval Training and the reason for its popularity is that it can be adapted to other sports and exercises by simply changing the intensity and the time for each interval.
When created by experts, you can experience a powerful and potent workout that will have you giving it your all. High Intensity Interval Training is the way many people are reaching their weight loss and fitness goals.
Michelle is the senior most expert who writes for this website. After completing her graduation and 10+ years of practice, Michelle has been involved and known for a lot of her philanthropy work. Michelle loves spending time researching and writing her papers. She occasionally writes for us and we are extremely proud to have her as one of our editors. Follow me on Linkedin