If you’ve ever worked out along with P90X, Insanity, or CrossFit, then you already understand the basics of high intensity interval training, or HIIT. These programs are incredibly popular among those who want to get and stay fit, and for good reason. Below, you will learn everything you need to know about HIIT and why you should incorporate it into your fitness routine.
What Is High Intensity Interval Training?
With so many different types of training and exercise out there, it is often hard to keep track of what’s what. High intensity interval training involves working out as hard as you can for a brief period of time, then following up with a short, less intense period of exercise. The theory is that HIIT can help people get fit in a very short amount of time, but with any “get fit quick” routine, there are certain risks. Those who lead generally sedentary lifestyles and jump into HIIT without training their bodies for the intensity often experience injuries. As such, those who are just starting out should take things slow and progress to full intensity.
Reasons for HIIT Popularity
According to an article in USA Today, a 2014 fitness survey showed that HIIT was the most popular form of workout that year – and that trend continues even into 2016. There are many different reasons why people choose HIIT over other types of exercise, but the top two remain evident. First, people today are busy, and they don’t really have time to hit the gym every day to stay fit. High intensity interval training is often done at home, along with an audio or even video guide. What’s more, HIIT is generally less expensive than going to the gym or hiring a personal trainer, and that’s very important in today’s economy.
Is it Right for You?
Although infomercials and advertisements would have you believe that absolutely anyone can jump into a HIIT program and succeed, the truth is that high intensity interval training is very demanding and it requires a lot of exertion. Just about anyone can get to a point where HIIT is very beneficial to them, but if you are generally sedentary and you are just getting started, HIIT might not be the best fit. If you have questions or concerns about your health and your ability to participate in high intensity exercise, be sure to speak to your physician or other healthcare provider before starting a program.
Does it Work?
Finally, the most important reason why high intensity interval training is so popular has to do with its overall effectiveness. When people follow programs such as Insanity or P90X as they are intended, they truly can shed body fat, add muscle, and get their bodies in shape relatively quickly. Many people are skeptical, particularly since some of these programs call for just a few minutes of very high intensity cardio. Of course, it’s better than nothing, but realistically, best results are obtained when a well thought out program is followed. Those who are interested should use a timer and slowly build up their repetoire of HIIT exercises. It can be used as a main form of exercise, for an interesting take on cardio, or mixed with a weight lifting/cardio program.
Examples of HIIT Exercises
- Mountain Climbers
- Lunge Jumps
- Walking Push Ups
- Box Jumps
- Plank to Push Ups
- Treadmill Sprints
All in all, high intensity interval training is popular because you don’t need a lot of equipment to do it, and it can offer intense workouts in a short amount of time.