High intensity interval training has been extensively researched over recent years and has been found to be one of the most beneficial forms of cardio, here I will look at some of the benefits of HIIT. My personal preference is that it’s a real winner and it’s something we promote and use at PGPT. It’s also perfect for the busy Londoner.
1. Time efficiency
You don’t need to spend hours doing cardio, just 15 minutes of Interval training can be more beneficial than say, spending an hour jogging on the treadmill. The key word here is intensity, try performing short bursts of high intense activity such as Hill Sprints i.e 30 seconds flat out sprint, with a 1 minute walk between sets. Another great format for cardio for those strapped for time is ‘tabata’ – a 4-minute interval programme. Download the timer for this onto your phone so you can get accurate with the time intervals. This 4 min HIIT session could then be thrown into a 45minute weights session two or three times. An example of the time slots would be:-
Workout to maximum intensity for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Repeat 8 times…. (ouch!)
Most of you will not be familiar with this phrase, but EPOC which stands for Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption is the increased oxygen your body uses after an intense workout to erase oxygen debt. That means it uses additional calories to repair muscle and replenish fuel stores. HIIT training has a far bigger effect on EPOC, meaning that following a HIIT session your body will still be burning calories even when you’re sitting down resting later that evening.
3. Improved Vo2 max and anaerobic fitness.
In Comparison to slow steady state cardio (traditional jogging on the treadmill for example), you will have a much greater improvement in anaerobic fitness and Vo2 max from interval training. Vo2 max is your body’s capacity to transport oxygen during exercise. The greater your Vo2 max the better your body is at coping with strenuous exercise meaning it is also more relevant to sports i.e. you will be able to push harder for longer before that nasty lactic acid kicks in!
4. Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity impacts the way the body tolerates carbs, and whether those carbs affect your ability to mobilise fatty acids. HIIT can reduce insulin sensitivity, and seeing as insulin is a storage hormone, the higher it is the more difficult to lose fat.
5. Greater chance of burning fat from your stomach
Let me firstly state that there is no such thing as spot reduction. For example, you have a big stomach so you only do sit-ups to lose the stomach. Fat goes from where it wants to go! Doing HIIT can create a metabolic effect that stimulates a higher proportional release of abdominal fat in comparison to long duration lower intensity cardio. In addition to this it has a greater impact on keeping the body in an anabolic state meaning it is easier to retain muscle which in turn has a positive impact on metabolism and body composition.
The beauty of HIIT is that it can be done in any format. Whether it’s hill sprints in the park or ‘tabata’ style training at home there is a place for it in the fitness world. Be creative and try factoring it into your weight training, keep the rest periods short and remember… The name of the game is intensity!!!