The thought of any exercise that involves the words “high intensity” is enough to make me want to curl up inside and watch a movie. But, for those of us who don’t love lengthy workouts, high intensity interval training is actually a good option. It provides the benefits of a long workout in a short period of time, so you can spend less time at the gym and still see results. Because some of us are still saving up for the nice home gym!
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, works for both cardio and weight training. The idea is to alternate a high-intensity activity with a low-intensity one, for example by sprinting for one minute then walking for two. It can be applied to cycling, swimming, jumping rope: pretty much any cardio activity you can think of. Sounds pretty tough, right? The good news is that HIIT can be done for as little as 15 minutes three times a week and still provide results. That makes it perfect for busy schedules, or anyone who hates to spend time at the gym.
Studies show that HIIT is the best cardio option for burning fat, especially good for stubborn belly and leg flab. Experts even claim that the body continues to burn more fat during the 24 hours after HIIT than it would after a typical run. Its the gift that keeps on giving! Other benefits include increased heart health and better metabolism. HIIT is also a great way to build lean muscles.
Interval training doesn’t have to be high intensity. If you’re not already in pretty good shape you shouldn’t jump right into HIIT. Low-intensity interval training is a great option for beginners who are trying to build up stamina. The popular running program Couch to 5K uses interval training to help anyone work up to running a 5K in 30 minutes. The program starts out as a mix of jogging and walking over a half hour period, and slowly lowers the walking time week-by-week until the entire 30 minutes is spent jogging. Anyone, at any level of fitness, can become a running using techniques like this.
HIIT is quickly becoming the latest fitness trend. Celebrities from Giuliana Rancic to the ultra-fit David Beckham have been known to use the technique to get in shape. The proven benefits along with its convenience and efficiency mean this trend might be here to stay. If it means less time spent working out, I’m all for it!