The science behind the ever-so-popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout

High-intensity interval training comprises short bursts of high-intensity exercises interspersed with short periods of lower-intensity workout and recovery.

Myupchar August 26, 2019 22:21:17 IST
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The science behind the ever-so-popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular method of endurance training

  • HIIT comprises short bursts of high-intensity exercises interspersed with short periods of lower-intensity workout and recovery

  • The underlying principle of the workout is that the shorter the duration of the movement, the higher its intensity

Modern-day stressors and lifestyles have left the best of us with some signs of ill-health. Add to that, most of us feel we don’t have enough time for exercise. Seeing this trend, trainers around the world have been devising ways to pack more punch into shorter-duration workouts.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one such popular method of endurance training - originally made for athletes, today medical practitioners are even adapting it for people living with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Put simply, HIIT comprises short bursts of high-intensity exercises interspersed with short periods of lower-intensity workout and recovery.

The science behind the eversopopular highintensity interval training HIIT workout

Representative image. Image Source: Pixabay

The specific amount of time you spend exercising depends on both the activity and the intensity with which it is performed. Ideally, a HIIT session ranges from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. Most HIIT routines don’t require gym equipment, so you can do them from the comfort of your home. Here’s a quick look at the science behind HIIT:

What is HIIT?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), HIIT comprises activities that increase your heart rate to 80-90% of your personal maximum capacity. The underlying principle of the workout is that the shorter the duration of the movement, the higher its intensity.

HIIT works on overall fitness. Studies have shown that HIIT workouts performed under medical supervision can improve health parameters in obese people living with diabetes in just 12 weeks.

How it works

Short spurts of high-intensity workout deplete the oxygen stores in the body and forces it to switch to anaerobic mode. HIIT also shifts the metabolism - so your body uses fat rather than carbs for energy. During the recovery period, the body reverts to the aerobic mode to restore the oxygen supply. Therefore, HIIT substantially increases both the aerobic and anaerobic performance of a person.

What is the impact of HIIT on the body?

HIIT improves cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and fat loss in the body. In 2017, researchers at Mayo Clinic, U.S., found that 12 weeks of HIIT can reverse the ageing process at the cellular level. They published their research in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Metabolism.

What makes HIIT one of the most sought-after methods of fitness is its efficiency: minimum amount of time yielding maximum results.

Who can do a HIIT workout?

HIIT is highly customizable - you can adjust the intensity to match a range of fitness goals and parameters like age and fitness level. Whether you’re a trained athlete or a cardiac rehab patient, HIIT can be moulded to your specific requirements.

The ultimate aim of HIIT is to make your heart and muscles work at their optimum capacity. Like most sports, HIIT may seem difficult to start with. Beginners, as well as people who have not worked out for three months or longer, should start slow.

HIIT is a full-body workout. It’s important to warm up for five minutes before you begin any workout.

Three HIIT exercises for beginners

Warm-up by jogging on the spot and mobilizing the joints for five minutes before you begin. Rest for one minute between exercises.

Mountain climbers

Come into a push-up position. Make sure your hips are in line with your body, and your palms are underneath your shoulders. Now bend the right knee and bring it close to your chest. Go back to the starting position, and repeat the movement with the left leg. Try doing this as fast as you can. Do three sets of 30 seconds, 40 seconds, and 50 seconds. Rest for a few seconds in-between sets.

Jump squats

Stand with your legs apart - they should be more than hip-width apart. Squat by pushing your hip behind - try not to bend forward. Using your arms for momentum, jump up and clap your hands above your head. Land softly to return to the starting position. Do three sets of five, eight and 10 repetitions. Take rest in-between sets.

Modified burpees

Do a jump squat. Now rest your palms on the floor. Walk back or jump back into the push-up position - make sure that your hips are in line with your body. Walk or jump forward to return to the squat. Do three sets of five repetitions. Take rest in-between.

Cool down by marching on the spot for a few minutes before you head out to start the day.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more articles like this, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/fitness

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