I love science, and especially all things relating to Unleashing My Awesome, achieving the pinnacle of health, fitness, strength, size and power, but unlike most of the other hunks out there, I focus on the hard science of everything, if there is no paper on it, it is hearsay…simples. With that, let us delve into the world of HIIT.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is in fact that ever-popular exercise routine. Simply put, during HIIT, you alternate between very intense anaerobic spurts of exercise and slower recovery periods. This makes for a shorter, more efficient workout, ideal for the busy schedules of today. Although you should not have more than 3 sessions per week, as it is supposed to be INTENSE.
“You know, it is important to understand that discipline and consistency are key in HIIT, the high-intensity intervals need to be at your maximum effort for the best results, your lower intensity periods on the other hand about 50%”.
Who is it for?
Although it has been for a while the forte of athletes, HIIT is actually recommended for everyone – the untrained masses, the overweight (Lunt et al. 2014) and the athletes. In fact, it is useful for type 2 diabetes as a safe and effective alternative to conventional endurance workouts. This is supported by Little & Francois (2014). In their article, they mention how current research “demonstrates that HIIT may be particularly effective for improving postprandial hyperglycaemia in individuals with, or at risk for, type 2 diabetes (T2D)”. postprandial hyperglycaemia is the medical (and wordy) term for increased sugar levels after eating, that in patients with type 2 diabetes is a significant risk factor for increased cardiovascular morbidity. Boudou et al further support this. They reported that an 8-week exercise program consisting of HIIT and continuous aerobic exercises led to a 24% increase in the size of thigh muscles in middle-aged type 2 diabetic patients.
How long should a programme be?
People want to exercise for many reasons, from toning up, to bulking up, to losing weight. HIIT is a valuable exercise programme that everyone should look into. For muscle hypertrophy (Getting Bigger – most people do, and well I am The BioBeast), programmes should be between 12 to 16 weeks. Anything else, although a shorter period will improve physical fitness, it will not have a significant result with most people. Increases in muscle size were seen in the psoas major, quadriceps and anterolateral abdominal muscles after a 16-week programme (Osawa et al. 2014), and Ouerghi et al. 2014, show that a 12-week programme (combined with aerobic exercise), improves aerobic capacity.
Osawa et al. also found that a 16-week HIIT program induces improvements in both aerobic capacity and muscle hypertrophy. They recommend a programme that utilises both upper body and lower body exercises.
HIIT is an effective tool that we can use when we are training for cardiovascular fitness or fat loss. The reason for this is that it may help burn more calories than traditional exercise, or conventional time frames.