Interval training is a very time-efficient way to exercise. In most case, all you need is 20-30 minutes, three to four times a week to get fit, tone up, and lose weight.
No more going to the gym to do hour-long aerobic classes and then hitting the weights afterward – in just a couple of hours a week you can sculpt and reshape your body in the comfort of your own home!
Interval training is also very good for your health – easily as beneficial as longer, more regular/frequent workouts.
I know, it’s hard to believe that a 20-minute workout can be so god for you, but you don’t have to take my word for it. The benefits of HIIT are proven by science!
1. Burn more calories in less time
All types of exercise burn calories. After all, that’s why we work out for weight loss. However, HIIT burns more calories per minute than almost any other type of exercise.
Studies show that HIIT burns 25-30% more calories than other types of exercise, including so-called fat-burning cardio. Many of those calories come from glycogen, which is stored glucose in your muscles, but that doesn’t matter. For weight loss, the more calories you burn the better.
What this means for you: With HIIT, you burn more calories in less time, and that means your workouts can be shorter.
2. Your metabolic rate remains elevated for hours after HIIT
Your metabolic rate is the number of calories your body uses at rest. For weight loss, the higher your metabolic rate is the easier it is to burn fat and lose weight. Exercise increases your metabolic rate, but it normally slows down again as soon as you finish.
Studies have shown that HIIT increases your metabolic rate for as long as 24 hours after exercise so that you burn more calories even while you are sleeping. This means you’ll burn more calories per hour even while you are sleeping.
What this means for you: With HIIT, you not only burn more calories during your workout, you also burn more afterward too. This will significantly speed up fat loss despite only doing short workouts.
3. HIIT can help you preserve or even gain muscle
Most cardio workouts lead to muscle atrophy or breakdown. That’s why top long-distance runners are so skinny. Low levels of muscle will cause your metabolism to slow down, and that means you’ll lose fat more slowly. You’ll also be weaker which will make many everyday activities harder – like picking up and carrying your kids.
Because HIIT puts more stress on your muscles than regular cardio, studies show that it can help preserve your current muscle mass or even help you build more. This will protect or increase your resting metabolic rate. Weight training is definitely best for building bigger, stronger muscles, but if you don’t enjoy lifting weights but still want to strengthen your muscles, it’s nice to know that HIIT can help too.
What this means for you: More muscle means easier fat loss and greater strength to make everyday tasks much easier.
4. HIIT can improve aerobic fitness
HIIT is a form of anaerobic exercise. That means energy is produced without the presence of oxygen. Your heart and lungs will work overtime, but not while you are exercising. Instead, they work hard between sets of exercises to repay the accumulated oxygen debt, and flush out lactic acid.
Studies have revealed that, despite being anaerobic in nature, HIIT workouts will improve your aerobic fitness using much shorter workouts. Aerobic fitness is important because it’s inextricably linked to cardiovascular health, but aerobic workouts tend to be long and, for some people, boring.
It’s good to know you don’t have to spend hours jogging to keep your heart and lungs in good shape.
What this means for you: Despite not doing aerobic exercise, you can use HIIT to increase your aerobic fitness and boost your cardiovascular health, and in only a couple of hours per week.
5. HIIT can lower blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity
High levels of blood glucose can be a serious problem. For a start, if your blood glucose levels are high, so too will your insulin levels. High levels of insulin will prevent fat burning and promote fat storage. Also, high levels of blood glucose are linked to type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and a host of other serious medical conditions.
A collection of 50 different studies has concluded that HIIT lowers blood glucose and increases insulin sensitivity, paving the way for faster fat loss and better health. Additional studies suggest that HIIT is superior to regular cardio for managing blood glucose.
What this means for you: For fat loss and health, controlling your blood glucose is very beneficial. HIIT also reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.
6. HIIT can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a big risk to your health, and is common in overweight people. High blood pressure places a lot of strain on your heart, your kidneys, and could contribute to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Blood pressure is the combination of several factors, including blood vessel elasticity and cardiac output. HIIT has been shown to have a positive effect on the factors affecting blood pressure and can also help lower your resting heart rate.
What this means for you: High blood pressure is known as the silent killer; you don’t know you have it unless you get your blood pressure tested. Reduce your risk of developing hypertension or lower your current blood pressure (with your doctor’s supervision) to reduce your risk of the illnesses and diseases associated with high blood pressure.
HIIT provides you with a lot of bang for your workout buck. If you want to get the most from your workout time, HIIT delivers the best return for your investment of time and effort.