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5 Benefits Of HIIT – How To Do High-Intensity Interval Training – Women’s Health

Dec 20th, 2021

Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to boost heart health, keep blood sugar levels in check, and maintain the health of our minds for the long haul. But just as there are a multitude of ways to work out and keep your body (and mind) healthy and strong, there are a trove of different approaches you can take to doing cardio. Enter: HIIT, or high-intensity interval training.

HIITs definition is a heckuva lot more simple than you might think, says Annie Mulgrew, founding instructor for CITYROW in New York City and NASM-certified CPT. High-intensity interval training is a form of interval training that alternates between short bursts of intense energy or activity followed by minimal rest, ideally until that person is unable to continue, she explains.

And, as Mulgrew notes, HIIT can be just about anythingfrom swimming to running to mountain climbers in your apartment to even weight training. The key, she says, is ensuring that the short burst of energy is at least 80 percent of your maximum effort (so, 8 on a scale of 10).

For HIIT to be effective, your on intervals need to be all-out, she says. Mulgrew also notes that your rest period shouldnt exceed your active period (try, 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off). That rest period can contain no movement or moderate-effort movementthat part really isnt important, she says. Those maximum-effort bursts are where the gains are made, Mulgrew reiterates.

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In Mulgrews CITYROW classes, for example, that on/off scheme translates to both meters rowed on the rowing machine, as well as resistance training off the rower. You may find short rowing distance repeats or hip thrusters programmed as 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off, she says.

If youre using weights for your HIIT workout, choose a weight that allows you to complete 10 to 20 reps repeatedly in your on periods, Mulgrew recommends. Beginners should aim for no more than 20 minutes of HIIT total. And if youre a total HIIT nut, keep it no longer than 50 to 60 minutes (so the actual HIIT portion of the workout is around 30 minutes and the warm-up/cool-down roughly 20 minutes). Going any longer than that would most likely mean youre not able to maintain the intensity you need in order to achieve the benefits of a HIIT workout, she says.

Speaking of benefits, here are five major health perks associated with HIIT, plus, how to maximize your next interval workout.

Although aerobic exercise is a great tool in maintaining your heart health, as far as weight loss tactics go, that steady-state run isnt the best calorie-burner. And while weight training is typically the most reliable weight loss tactic when it comes to fitness type (remember though, weight loss is achieved through a calorie deficit, which is most easily achieved through diet), if there is one form of cardio that blasts calories, its HIIT.

One 2015 study (of healthy men) that compared calorie burn after 30 minutes of HIIT to other forms of steady-state exercise noted that HIIT burned 25 to 30 percent more calories. Other studies (also on men) have noted that HIIT propels your production of human growth hormone, or HGH, upwards of 450 percent in the 24 hours following a session, increasing overall calorie burn.

Yepa study in Journal of Diabetes Research confirmed this. The researchers divided obese, sedentary women into groups: those who partook in a HIIT program and those who did a moderate-intensity (but continuous energy expenditure) routine. The former group achieved similar body composition and aerobic capacity results in half the time.

One major (assumed) drawback to HIIT, of course, is the notion you need to be flying, flailing, bounding, and sprinting (with a series of complicated tools, no less) in order to achieve a solid workout. But as Mulgrew points out, the hallmark of HIIT lies in exertion, not the modality, so pretty much any form of exercise fitsand that includes the simplest form of cardio there is: walking.

In one Japanese study, for five months, 700 middle- and older-aged adults engaged in walking intervals (shorter bursts of speed interspersed with periods of rest). At the conclusion of the study, the individuals had noticeably improved endurance and strength.

Studies have shown that regular HIIT exercise can boost your memory and make you sharper in everyday decision-making. One (potential) reason why, according to Mulgrew: During a HIIT workout, you have to stay focused, she explains.

And, whats more, you dont have to sweat for very long in order to see results. A 2006 study compared two groups of college men for two weeks: those who did stationary bicycling at a moderate pace for roughly an hour-and-a-half to two hours for three times a week, and those who did six 30-second all-out sprints with four minutes of recovery.

Surprise, surprise: The HIIT-ers were just as fit (in terms of exercise performance and muscle growth) as those moderate-intensity exercisers by the end of the trialwith far less time invested.

Here, Mulgrew shares her top tips for ensuring you blast through your next HIIT session.

Be sure to warm up for at least five minutes prior to jumping in.

How to: Start standing with feet just wider than hips, a kettlebell in right hand, right arm bent with elbow close to body so that the weight rests on shoulder, and left hand on hip. Sink hips slightly into a quarter-squat. Then, quickly push through feet to extend legs, simultaneously pressing kettlebell straight up until right arm is completely extended overhead. With control, lower kettlebell back down. That's one rep. Perform as many reps as possible for 45 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for five rounds.

How to: Start in a high plank, shoulders over wrists, pelvis tucked, and ribs drawn toward hips. Drive your right knee toward your chest, then the left. Pull your right knee back toward your chest and pause. Repeat the pattern starting with the left knee. Aim completing 45 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete for five rounds.

How to: Start in a low plank with forearms on the floor and parallel, elbows under shoulders. Pick up right forearm and press through palm to extend arm straight. Then, repeat with left to come into a high plank, keeping hips as level as possible. Reverse the movement to return to start. That's one rep. Perform as many reps as possible for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat for five rounds.

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5 Benefits Of HIIT - How To Do High-Intensity Interval Training - Women's Health

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