You may have heard the term HIIT, its stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The American College of Sports Medicine surveyed more than 3,800 fitness professionals to identify the top 20 fitness trends worldwide for last year and High-Intensity Interval Training took the number one spot. I personally love HIIT trainmen, it’s a really effective training method for burning fat and will really your cardio fitness go through the roof!  That said as with many other popular fitness and nutrition trends (such as CrossFit or Paleo), there are plenty of myths out there about HIIT training. So whilst this blog is to help explain in detail what HIIT is and how you can incorporate it into your training  I also will try and debunk some of the myths around it too.

We can all make time to do HIIT.
So the benefits, first up it’s super time efficient – if you don’t have time to get the the gym its perfect. All you need is 20-30mins, which I believe everyone can find no matter how busy your day is.  You don’t need any equipment you can use body weight exercises all you need just is a bit of space and timer to time our sets and rests.

So what is HIIT? 
HIIT pairs high-intensity exercise intervals with low to moderate-intensity exercise recovery phases. For example 20 seconds of hard work, followed by 40 seconds of rest or for a hared option 30 seconds of work, followed by 30 seconds of rest, or even 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds rest.. you get the idea. You repeat this for 20 minutes.

What exercises should you do?
A HIIT session can be done using one exercises or several different exercises like burpees, mountain climbers or sprints. Choose an exercise or a comboination of exercises that work for you and give it everything you have got for the 20mins.  You can of course use the gym if you prefer going to the gym, and use cardio machines, kettle bells etc.

HIIT can be tailored to your fitness levels or age. 
If you’re new to exercise or not a spring chicken the a HIIT workout could mean an power walk up hill but if you are very fit it could be hill sprints. The aim is to get your heart rate up to near maximal levels during the intense sets, before recovering during the rest periods.

You’ll be burning Fat even when you have finished training. 
Unlike low intensity cardio such as jogging, HIIT will have you burning calories for hours and hours after you have finished your workout.  your metabolic rate is boosted, so your body continues to burn more calories. The more intense the workout, the greater the effects will be, so you should always aim to push yourself as hard as you can.

How often should I do HIIT?
Like the name suggests, high-intensity interval training is intense and pushes your body hard, so it’s important to allow for plenty of recovery time between workouts. You don’t want to do too much throughout the week. Using high-intensity interval training three times per week will give you the best results while limiting the risk of injury.

Is HIIT better than steady state cardio?
With the popularity of high-intensity interval training, the standard 30-minutes of steady state aerobic training like bike or treadmill work has lost it popularity. Steady state cardio is often demonized for interfering with and even killing muscle gains from strength training. However, a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that adding low-impact aerobic exercise, such as cycling, will not jeopardize gains in strength or muscle size. In fact, this study found that in previously untrained men, aerobic exercise might increase their muscular gains. And, of course, aerobic training increases your aerobic fitness. Light to moderate aerobic exercise is a great method to use on recovery days, so it still has it’s place.

Is HIIT is the only workout I need to loose weight?
No. It’s no secret that a well-designed strength training program can significantly increase strength, power, athletic performance and physical appearance in both men and women. But, what many people don’t realize is the importance of muscle in the fat loss process. Put simply, muscle is metabolically active tissue, as it is the physical place in your body where fat is burned (i.e. used as energy). So, the more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories/fat you’ll burn throughout the day, even while you sleep ─ because more muscle tissue requires more energy. Your body is like your car. If you put a bigger motor in your car, you’ll burn more fuel while driving. With this analogy in mind, having more muscle will help make your interval training efforts more effective by helping you burn more calories. This is why strength training and maintaining muscle with proper training and eating strategies is absolutely critical for fat loss. The winning workout plan combines interval training with a comprehensive strength training plan.

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