What are the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT)?

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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers multiple benefits and advantages to people who are accustomed to steady-state cardio workouts, or running or walking at the same pace for 30 minutes or more. HIIT workouts burn more calories in a shorter time span, help build endurance and keep people from getting bored.

In addition, scientists at the Mayo Clinic found that HIIT boosted the ability of the mitochondria in muscle cells to generate energy significantly in older and younger populations. In fact, older study subjects (ages 65 to 80) enjoyed a muscle-energy increase of 69 percent after adopting a HIIT regimen. Since mitochondrial activity declines with age, the researchers behind this study found the results extremely promising for older individuals.
HIIT training has a number of benefits. Reduction of overall workout time is an important benefit for those that don’t have much time to train but want to see improvements. This type of training is far superior to steady-state exercise when it comes to increasing your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in during exercise. This means that you'll be in much better shape when it comes time to play a sport or participate in various activities. Increasing your metabolism for weight loss is also an important benefit. HIIT will burn more calories in a shorter period of time than steady-state exercise and will help burn calories throughout the day because of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Another benefit based on the type of exercise you are using in the HIIT program, is that it can help develop the fast twitch muscle fibers in your body.  This is due to the high speeds at which the exercises are performed. Slow twitch fibers respond more to endurance training, such as a steady-state one hour run, whereas fast twitch fibers respond better to short, intense bouts of exercise such as weightlifting or sprinting. When we train in one of these modes, our muscle tissue has a tendency to take on the appropriate properties. For example, marathoners would require more steady state exercise and a sprinter or football player more fast twitch exercise focus. When considering HIIT see if it fits your fitness goals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.