Hiit benefits range from lower body fat, heart rate and blood pressure, lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
We asked Prof. Zanuso to answer a few questions.
What is HIIT - high intensity interval training?
Within these programs, the High Intensity workouts can last from a few seconds (e.g. the strength training) up to several minutes (e.g. the aerobic training), with the aim to reach 80%-95% of maximum heart rate when performing cardiovascular exercises.
When performing strength based exercises the load can be very close to the maximum (1RM), or to a slightly smaller percentage of that. In this last case, it is necessary to increase the number of repetitions in order to achieve muscular exhaustion.
Another method is to replace the rest period with another exercise, creating a training session of extreme intensities, with a much shorter duration than traditional training sessions. In this case the second ‘I’, meaning Interval, should be removed thus creating the HIT acronym (high intensity training).
Why are HIIT and HIT programs so popular?
- The duration is much shorter than traditional training workouts.
- Energy expenditure is higher than a traditional workout per time unit. This has a further metabolic effect on the post workout caloric expenditure, called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). This is identified as an additional energy requirement from the body to recover from a workout, back to a pre-workout state. After a HIIT program, EPOC is generally higher in comparison to traditional workouts for the first two hours post exercise.
- This training is often executed in fitness classes, and group training interaction. The constant switch between aerobic and anaerobic exercises are perceived as being more engaging and exciting.
What are the risks of high intensity interval training programs?
In order to perform HIIT and HIT programs efficiently, high level of technical skills are required (e.g. Squats or deadlift). This means that these exercises are limited to people with good coordination skills and motor control.
The approrpriate metabolic intensity should be considered for each individual, respecting the ability to execute the exercise correctly form a technical and coordinative perspective.