Monday, September 9, 2013

High Intensity Interval Training: Why it works so well

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise in which on a given interval exercise is performed at or near maximum effort, following this effort a lower intensity period or rest occurs. This sequence is then performed several times until the routine is complete. A good example of HIIT is the way that sprinters train. One sprint drill is performed on a track, the athlete sprints the straightaways at maximum effort, and then walks the curves. This routine is done normally for a mile. A marathon runner may think anything less than 10 miles is a joke, and hardly worth lacing his shoes up for. I will say though if you have access to your local track, try this for one mile or four laps. It is quite difficult.

So lets take a look at our two athletes. The Marathon Runner versus the Sprinter.

Marathon Runner: During exercise the body will use a portion of stored fat deposits for fuel. However during prolonged intense exercise such as marathons, the body will start to eat away muscle mass as a source of fuel. This also slows down the bodies metabolism by depleting HGH.

Sprinter: During these HIIT exercises the body plows through fat stores, and since the intensity is high and the duration is short, it tears muscles down, and during recovery following exercise, muscle is built back on top. In short this is the reason Marathon runners look like they do and Sprinters look like they do.
So all of this sounds great but is it really that simple? Just do high intensity exercises at short intervals, and you will get amazing results. The short answer is yes. Notice I did not say it is really that easy, rather that it is that simple. HIIT is difficult but there are numerous reasons that make is so beneficial.
  • Efficient - With a relative low time commitment of 4-30 minutes per session in as little as 3 times a week, amazing results can be found. Improved muscle tone and improvements in balance should also be expected.
  • Burn more fat while resting - Building lean muscle shreds through fat even when the body is at rest.
  • Speeding up Metabolism - HIIT can boost HGH up to 450%. The good news here is that HGH is essential in chewing up that body fat. 
  • Heart Health - regular participation in HIIT will increase your aerobic capacity, and lower your resting heart rate
  • Shift in BMI - A difference in traditional diet and exercise programs and a HIIT program is that the scale may not be the best measuring tool for success. Many participants lose very little weight but the shift in Body mass from fat to muscle is remarkable. While weight might not deviate much the shift from fluffy to chiseled will not go unnoticed.

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