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HIIT: Cardio at its best

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What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and the exercise is literally that: short bursts of high intensity exercises with short recovery breaks in between each exercise. Unlike typical cardio workouts that involve repetitive movement, HIIT allows you to switch up your routine by including as many different exercises as you want. This prevents your regime from becoming boring, and helps you target different areas of the body in each set. The best part of it all is that HIIT takes up as little as 10 minutes of your time!

The science behind HIIT and its benefits

The intensity of HIIT helps your body burn more fat than a prolonged but milder cardio exercise. The recovery break in between every exercise allows you to sustain these high intensity workouts for a longer period of time. Plus, HIIT increases your metabolism even after the workout, so you burn fat for up to 24 hours without lifting a finger.

Studies have found that HIIT elicits a rapid improvement in aerobic fitness for both sedentary and recreationally active individuals, through the delivery and utilisation of oxygen to exercising muscles. Researchers also discovered that individuals of initially low levels of fitness reported the highest improvements in oxygen utilisation, glucose metabolism and increased time before exhaustion – a significant advantage of HIIT.

HIIT isn’t only for beginners either. Trained athletes report a progressive increase in fat oxidation, improved endurance performance and faster recovery periods.

Starting HIIT

HIIT is flexible enough to suit everyone. Depending on your fitness level, you can vary the exercise intensity, type of exercise and recovery duration. The main thing is to stick to your decided durations, and complete as many repetitions as you can before the recovery break.

There is a multitude of sample HIIT exercises on the Internet. Choose exercises that target specific muscle groups to suit your desired results and modify existing sequences to your advantage. Participating in a 30-day challenge is great way to kick start the habit of consistent HIIT.

A favourite workout is the burpee, which doesn’t require any equipment. The Tabata Burpee Training (named after the Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata) is a 10 minute long exercise, based on a target number of burpees and any exercise-recovery duration. If you miss your target, just try again next time.

As Dr Seuss said, “you can do it here or there, you can do it anywhere!” You don’t need a gym subscription or fancy equipment to begin HIIT – all you need is 15 minutes a day and a decision to get fit.

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