HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, describes any type of interval training that alternates between periods of high-intensity physical activity and periods of lower-energy recovery or rest. It is not for the faint of heart and isn’t recommended for beginner fitness enthusiasts. For someone looking for a truly challenging workout, HIIT is a viable option.
The History of HIIT
The development of high-intensity interval training is credited to 20th-century runners and their trainers. Around 1910, Paavo Nurmi and trainer Lauri Pikhala trained with an interval training system. Hannes Kolehmainen, a Finnish gold medalist, also trained with interval training. By the 1930s, Gosta Holmer, a Swedish trainer, introduced a system of varying training intervals, making HIIT even more effective.
German trainer Woldemar Gerschler, after observing the success other runners and trainers had with interval trainers, believed that he could improve even further on this type of interval training. He developed an interval method that focused on higher-intensity intervals followed by partially restorative intervals of light jogging. This is the method of interval training that most closely resembles the HIIT of today.
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training is a form of interval training that alternates short periods of anaerobic exercise followed by less-intense recovery periods. This training is done until the participant is completely exhausted. There isn’t a set time assigned to HIIT routines. Their duration tends to depend on the intensity of the particular session and the fitness of the participant. This particular type of interval training helps to increase glucose metabolism in the body, resulting in a reduction of overall fat mass in the body.
Watch HIIT in action here:
HIIT Regimens and Their Descriptions
There are 5 HIIT regimens. The Peter Coe regimen consists of intervals of fast 200 meter runs with 30 seconds of recovery time in between the fast sessions. The Tabata regimen includes 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated continuously for 4 minutes, which is 8 cycles. The Gibala regimen has the following formula: 3 minutes of warming up, 60 seconds of intense exercise, and 75 seconds of rest, all performed in order and repeated for 8 to 12 cycles.
The Zuniga regimen follows output percentages, citing that 30 seconds of exercise at 90% power followed by 300 seconds of rest optimized the length of time the training could be endured. The Vollaard regimen consists of 10 minute easy pedaling routines that are split by two 20 second all-out cycling sprints. HIIT regimens, while they are very different, all have the same goal – to improve athletic capacity and condition.
Benefits of HIIT
- It’s efficient. It’s able to be fit into busy schedules and provides a full-body workout in a small amount of time.
- It helps burn loads of fat. HIIT’s methods burn much more fat than other, less intensive methods of exercise.
- It encourages a healthy heart. Because this interval training pushes the body’s limits and thrusts it into anaerobic exercise, it helps to strengthen the heart.
- It doesn’t require equipment. Use equipment or don’t use equipment – it’s entirely up to you.
- It removes pounds, not muscle. You won’t have to worry about losing weight in muscular areas. HIIT keeps muscle and burns only fat.
- It increases metabolism. An increased metabolism has many residual health benefits that even include slowing the aging process.
- It can be done anywhere. Since it doesn’t require equipment, it can literally be done anywhere.
- It is crazy challenging. Completing a HIIT routine is truly a feat that anyone can be proud of.