Nicole Maxwell, NMD
No time to work out but want to work on cardiovascular health and weight loss? Then high intensity interval training is for you! High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, has been shown to help people improve their cardiovascular health and lose weight.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is when you alternate an intense phase of exercise followed by a period of recovery and repeat several times, often for a total of 10 minutes. The great thing about HIIT is you get to experience the extra benefits of intense exercise without creating a negative or unpleasant experience that can happen with longer, sustained rate exercise.
What does it do?
- Most of the research is based on cardio types of HIIT (running, walking, cycling) but it can be adapted to almost any form and combination. Among people with heart disease, HIIT improves cardiorespiratory fitness nearly twice as much as longer stretches of moderate intensity running, cycling or other aerobic exercises.
- It also has a greater impact on fat loss (especially abdominal) then steady state cardio at much less of a time commitment!
- Improves insulin sensitivity especially in people at risk for developing diabetes mellitus
How does it work?
HIIT switches on genes that increase mitochondrial growth (the power generators of our cells) and other beneficial biological changes. Even these short bouts of training can switch on those genes, making it an efficient workout.
The nitty gritty
- The key to HIIT is pushing your heart rate up above 80% of its maximum. To find your maximal heart rate subtract your age from 220. (MHR = 220 – age)
- a longer recovery period is often needed. Perhaps start with one HIIT training workout a week, with your other workouts being steady state workouts.
- Add a 2-minute warm up and 3-minute cool down
- Examples of HIIT activities to repeat for 10 minutes:
- 30 second sprint alternating with 1-2min walking/slow jogging
- 10-20 seconds all out cycling alternating with 2 minutes easy cycling
- Climb stairs for 30 seconds during your lunch break then walk for 1-2 minutes
If you’re looking to lose weight, improve your cardiac function and blood sugar control then consider HIIT, it may be just the ticket, especially if you have limited time.