Experts recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, but that can be tough with work, family, and other commitments. That’s why many are turning to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to get healthier, stronger, and lose weight.
HIIT workouts don’t require a considerable time commitment, special equipment, or an expensive gym membership. All you need is your body and 5-30 minutes to get a great workout that can significantly enhance your overall health.
A HIIT routine involves short bursts of intense exercise and alternating rest periods. For example, one repetition consists of 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 20 seconds of rest.
Small commitment, big benefits
There are many benefits to this efficient form of workout. Here are our five favorites:
- HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short time and keeps burning them for hours after your workout. According to researchers, the number of calories burned during 20 minutes of HIIT is 25-30 percent higher than many other forms of exercise. Win!
- A 2015 study showed HIIT workouts could improve blood glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes. The participants dramatically reduced their glucose levels with 10-minute HIIT workouts performed three times a week for eight weeks. In addition, the study’s participants also experienced significant losses in abdominal fat.
- HIIT can improve your V02 max, the amount of oxygen you breathe in during intense exercise. Your heart pumps oxygen through your body to fuel your muscles so you can work harder. V02 max is used to measure your cardiorespiratory fitness. The higher the rate, the better. Participants in a 2016 study improved their oxygen consumption by 9% after performing 20-minute HIIT workouts four times per week for five weeks.
- It can improve cardiovascular risk factors in overweight people. Participants who performed HIIT at least three times a week for 12 weeks reduced their waist circumference, resting heart rate, and blood pressure, according to research published in Diabetes Spectrum.
- HIIT is convenient, so you’re more likely to stick with it. And, since you don’t need special equipment or large blocks of time, it can be done at home, at the gym, a hotel, or outdoors. There’s no excuse for skipping your sweat session.
Creating your own HIIT routine is easy.
Choose an activity such as running, jumping rope, biking, squats, or other activity you enjoy. If you’re a beginner, you may need longer rest periods for the first week or two.
For example, start with 20 seconds of hard effort and 40 seconds of rest. Repeat the routine for 5-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level. Do this 2-3 times during the first week. You can start increasing your work periods and decreasing your rest times until your reach 30 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.
Be sure to work as hard as possible during the burst periods. Aim to reach 80-95 percent of your maximum heart rate during the work periods and 60-65 percent during rest periods. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.
HIIT is perfect for travelers, those who don’t have much extra time, and nearly anyone who wants to improve their overall wellness and fitness levels.