In 1990, scientists made a discovery: they found that the alternation of intervals of high and medium intensity provides a significant fat burning (weight loss) and muscle gaining effect. They called that type of training a high-intensity interval training. HIIT has many features. In this article, we will tell you what is HIIT workout and how to perform it.
HIIT Workout Plan – Main Features
As you already understood, HIIT is based on intervals of maximum intensity alternating with active rest intervals. For example, 30 seconds of sprint and 1 minute of walking, alternating for 15 minutes.
Early studies have shown striking advantages of HIIT over steady-state (ordinary) cardio in terms of fat burning. However, in modern works it is stated that steady-state and HIIT are approximately the same in efficiency with one condition: the duration of HIIT-training is 2 times less. HIIT is used mainly for fat burning, while it allows you to save and even build muscle mass, while steady-state cannot provide such an effect. The most famous example of the difference between the effects of steady-state and HIIT is image with a marathoner and sprinter comparison. Therefore, many athletes use HIIT workout plan to be muscular.
HIIT Cardio Workout Benefits
HIIT is beneficial not only to maintain the form, but also for health in general. Here are the benefits of HIIT cardio workout:
- HIIT burns fat and helps to recover from resistance training.
- HIIT increases aerobic power (VO2max). In simple words, cardio increases the ability of cells to efficiently utilize oxygen. As a result, you can train longer and more intensively, while the moment of onset of fatigue is delayed.
- HIIT favorably affects the vessels. This helps to normalize arterial pressure. A positive impact on the level of pressure is also achieved due to the cardio’s ability to combat psychological / physical stress and anxiety.
- HIIT strengthens the blood circulation, so that the muscles get more nutrients, also they are cleaned from toxins. In addition, toxins are more rapidly excreted through sweat thanks to HIIT.
- HIIT reduces the level of “bad” cholesterol and increases “good” cholesterol.
- HIIT promotes the digestion of food and positively affects the organs of the gastrointestinal tract.
- HIIT deals with depression, gives more energy.
A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology sheds light on yet another feature that allows HIIT to burn more fat. The researchers showed that as a result of the 6-week HIIT training, the number of special muscle proteins responsible for the transfer of fat molecules to the mitochondria (where it is burned as a fuel) increased by 50%. The increase in the number of such proteins in the muscle means that the body is able to burn more fat as a fuel during training, and also during rest.
HIIT Workout at Home or Gym for Beginners
Here’s how HIIT workouts for beginners should be performed. HIIT trainings exhaust more than steady-state cardio and often require more time for recovery. The optimal duration for HIIT is 12 to 30 minutes. For beginners, 15 minutes will be enough. How often to perform HIITs? This type of training takes more time to recover than static cardio. Start with 1 quick HIIT workout per week, preferably on rest days. When you are ready to harder challenges, add a second HIIT per week, evenly distributing them by day. Safe mode of performing HIIT implies 2-3 sessions each week, each of them should be no more than 30 minutes. For beginners, it is better to do ordinary cardio for 2-3 weeks.
If it turns out that HIIT negatively affects your strength indicators, replace it with ordinary cardio of medium intensity. This is enough to take advantage of cardio training, avoiding its shortcomings.
Do not forget to do warm-up before HIIT cardio. A few minutes devoted to warm-up exercises significantly reduce the risk of injury. When to do HIIT: before or after strength training? Is it possible to combine cardio and strength training in one day? It is possible and even necessary, but never do cardio before your resistance workout. This may lead to glycogen stores depletion. As result, you will lose a lot of energy and will be able to do less work. Also, hypertrophy of the muscles will be less, and fatigue, which increases the risk of injury, can occur. Another reason not to do cardio before resistance training is the inhibition of mTOR, a signaling complex (special protein) that provides and triggers muscle growth. This further complicates muscle mass gaining. Some studies have shown that mild static cardio training immediately after resistance training burns more fat, compared to performing cardio alone. In this case, the break between the power and cardio training should be small (up to 20 minutes).
Key points: do cardio after finishing work with weights or in your free time / rest day. If your goal is fat burning, the best time for cardio training is immediately after resistance training. In addition, HIIT workout at home is also possible, while, of course, it is better to perform it at the gym.
HIIT Workouts for Men – Sample Exercises
Are HIIT workouts for men really useful in bodybuilding? In short, yes. While many bodybuilders and personal trainers believe that a less intense and longer training is the best way to burn fat and maintain muscle mass, the opposite (HIIT) is probably closer to the truth.
Cardio, performed with high intensity for a shorter period of time, helps not only to keep muscles in shape, but also to increase muscle mass. When you train at a slow and constant pace for a longer time, you accustom the muscle cells to aerobic metabolism and develop greater endurance. Here is a sample HIIT bodyweight routine for men.
- 25 Bodyweight squats;
- 15 Elevated pushups;
- 25 Lunges;
- 12 Inverted rows;
- 25 Side-to-side hops;
- 15 Inverted rows;
- 25 Close-grip pushups;
- 10 Underhand inverted rows;
- 25 Jumping jacks;
- 10 Burpees;
- 25 Diagonal lunges.
Benefits of HIIT Workouts for Women
Since the female body, in contrast to the male body, is not adapted to the huge physical loads, HIIT training plan should be designed so that the training itself lasts no more than 20-30 minutes. Working in this mode will allow any woman to achieve the desired result, namely to lose weight accumulated in the waist and hip areas.
Thanks to the high-intensity training, many people are engaged in increasing the endurance of the body, accelerating the metabolism by about 5-9% over the next 24 hours, which leads to burning fat deposits, increasing flexibility and elasticity of muscles. If a woman for some reason is a supporter of just the resistance (weighted) techniques in their ordinary sense, the inclusion of several HIIT-cycles in the training schedule will bring her even more results.
With the accumulation of experience, a woman can make the biochemical processes of her body go so intensively that the body itself learn to use fat deposits as energy. In this case, a so-called synergistic effect is achieved, that is, a situation where the final result is formed by combining various training methods that mutually reinforce the action.
And most importantly, a woman does not need to spend hours torturing herself on treadmills, as many people do. In this regard, HIIT high-intensity training for women (at home or gym) is much better than training methods, which imply steady-state cardio.
You can read more about 20-min and 30-min HIIT workouts.
Frequent Questions About HIIT
- How many times a week do I need to do HIIT in order to lose weight? You can do HIIT 1-2 times a week to lose weight, build muscle and increase strength. The recommended frequency for beginners is once per week.
- Is it possible to do HIIT every day? It depends on how physically fit you are. You can start with 1 training a week, and then after you make sure that you have become Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can train every day. Do not overtrain your body to prevent injury.
- How long should I train according to HIIT mode? HIIT should be part of your fitness regime. This means you can practice this type of training on a regular basis. You can complicate them depending on the level of your athletic performance.
- What is better for losing weight: cardio or HIIT? Cardio and HIIT are ideal for weight loss. Yes, intensive interval training is more effective, but if you are a beginner, then start with steady-state cardio. In two weeks, gradually add HIITs to your workouts.
- What should I eat after HIIT workout? After you have completed your HIIT workout, you can drink a protein shake and / or BCAA (if you do not get enough protein from regular foods) or eat a healthy meal consisting of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. In addition, you should have a post-exercise drink offered based on the type of your body constitution. Consult your nutritionist or healthcare professional to find out what is best for you. You should know that your food should not be only protein or only carbs. Your meal should be balanced.