Are you looking for an exercise routine that provides better results than cardio? One that takes you to higher levels of fitness, yet is easy to do? If you answered yes, then you might want to try high intensity interval training, or HIIT.
HIIT was created in the mid-90s by a team led by Dr. Izumi Tabata, head coach of the Japanese skating team, which is why HIIT is sometimes referred to as the Tabata Protocol.
Essentially, Dr. Tabata discovered through research that alternating short bouts of high-intensity exercises with even smaller periods of rest and recovery resulted in higher levels of fitness. And thus, HIIT was born.
So, how is HIIT superior to traditional cardio and where does weight training fit in?
High Intensity Interval Training Versus Traditional Cardio
Performing traditional cardio generally means engaging in a heart rate-increasing activity at a set rate for a set period of time. For instance, you may jump on the treadmill and warm up for 5 minutes at 3 miles per hour, jog at 5 miles per hour for 45 minutes, then cool down at 3 miles per hour for 5 minutes at the end. In short, you start out slower to get your body ready for the physical activity, ramp it up for the main portion of the exercise routine, then return to the slower pace to let your body return to normal. With HIIT, this changes tremendously.
Your warm up and cool down are still the same at 5 minutes each, but the time in between is spent much differently. Instead of going at the same moderate pace for 30, 45, or 60 minutes, you’re alternating between 20 seconds of intense exercise and 10 seconds of recovery, or a similar 2:1 ratio. And you only do this 8 times, which means that your entire routine is only about 14 minutes in length.
Not only does this save you a ton of time at the gym, but the cardiovascular effects have been found to be superior. Performing HIIT results in improved stroke volume of the heart, maximal oxygen consumption, greater energy levels at a muscular level, and higher amounts of fat oxidation. In layman’s terms, this means that you can reach your fitness goals quicker and more effectively when using HIIT versus traditional cardio.
HIIT and Weight Training
Because HIIT focuses primarily on aerobic exercises, there are generally a lot of questions about how weight training fits in. Therefore, it’s important to realize that HIIT in conjunction with weight training provides a lot of benefits.
Basically, performing HIIT helps give you stronger and more powerful muscles, building your foundation and making your weight-training program easier to perform. Thus, you should find that incorporating HIIT with lifting weights or using weight machines enables you to achieve higher levels anaerobically as well as aerobically.
Remember also that achieving a higher level of fitness takes more than just exercise. Nutrition also comes into play. In order to maximize your performance, you need to make sure that you’re following a healthy diet such as the Paleo diet or a plan similar to The Zone and using helpful tips such as setting specified “treat days” so you don’t overdo it and watching the number of calories you consume in your drinks. If you need to take a little weight off in order to optimize your performance, remember to do so in healthy ways that get rid of fat without causing you to lose muscle.
Taking care of your body by getting enough sleep and working on mobility will also help you achieve your fitness goals. The more good choices you make, the easier time you will have meeting and even exceeding your health-related goals. Every step leads you in the right direction and HIIT is one great way to get there faster and more efficiently!