What is HIIT and Is It Really All It’s Cracked Up to Be?
If you’ve been trying to get fit for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of HIIT. Read on as we break down what this fitness craze is, how it works, and weigh in on whether or not it’s worth it.
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It is a mode of exercise that is based around working out at the hardest possible level of intensity for short bursts of time, followed by short rest periods. For example, you might go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat.
Advantages of HIIT
First, let’s look at some of the benefits of HIIT.
If you have a limited amount of time to work out, HIIT is highly efficient. Some enthusiasts believe you can get all the benefits of a full workout in as little as ten minutes. There’s no doubt that it can burn a lot of calories very quickly.
Some research shows that HIIT can also increase the calories you burn following your workout. This is known as the afterburn effect and essentially means your metabolism will be raised for several hours after you finish exercising.
HIIT is also a great choice for people working out at home. You can find thousands of free HIIT workouts on Youtube and many of them require no equipment at all.
Drawbacks of HIIT
Let’s start with the obvious: HIIT is hard. Working out at your maximum intensity, even for very short bursts of time, is extremely physically and psychologically challenging. You probably can’t begin HIIT if you have no basic fitness already, and even relatively fit people will find themselves sore the day after a HIIT workout.
Due to its intensity, HIIT can make some people feel sick, dizzy, or faint. It also carries a higher risk of injury than lower intensity, longer duration exercise. Because you’re moving so fast, you may not be focusing on your form.
So Should You Do HIIT?
HIIT is a divisive subject in the fitness world and has significant advantages and disadvantages. Should you do it or not?
Here’s our take: if you enjoy HIIT, do HIIT. If the idea of burning as many calories as possible in a short space of time appeals to you, HIIT might be the way.
But if you hate HIIT? Do something else! The best workout is always the one you’ll stick to, and if you dread your HIIT workout (even if it’s only ten minutes long) then you simply won’t do it.