Why Athletes Use High-Intensity Interval Training

When it comes to health and diet, there are always a dozen fads running at once.  Each one sticks around for a few years at most and then vanishes forever, and it’s enough to make you wonder if any of them really work.  That’s why people might feel skeptical when they hear a term like high-intensity interval training (HIIT for short).  However, HIIT is one of the most effective ways you can train.  Even if you haven’t heard the term before, it’s been around for decades or longer and it’s the solid foundation that many fad exercises rest on.

How HIIT Works

There are two basic ways you can exercise.  First, you can work out at a continuous pace from the start of your exercise period to the end.  That’s good for cardiovascular health, but once your body gets used to the pace you’ll stop losing weight.  High-intensity interval training adds exactly that:  intervals of intense exercise spaced out between moderate-intensity recovery periods.  These intervals can be any sort of exercise, but they need to be intense:  sprinting at top speed, lifting heavy weights, enough pushups to make your arms wobble, and so on.

 

What happens with HIIT is you’re switching from aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise.  That means you’re spending the energy reserves in your body by pushing your heart and muscles to the limit.  The recovery period lets you build your reserves back up, and then you spend it all again on the second high-intensity interval.  Thanks to these intervals, you spend almost three times as many calories during a workout period compared to continuous exercise.

Why Choose HIIT?

Mixing aerobic and anaerobic exercise provides a lot of benefits.  Pushing your muscles to the limit makes them build up faster, and large muscles will use up your fat reserves and speed up your metabolism.  This muscle growth includes your heart, improving your cardiac health.  It also means you’ll be able to push yourself even harder next time.  That’s why athletes use HIIT techniques when training:  even if they play an aerobic sport like soccer or marathon running, high-intensity intervals help them stretch their limits.

Why Avoid HIIT?

High-intensity interval training isn’t for everyone.  Many regular people may run into trouble if they switch away from continuous exercise.  If you have a weak heart or a family history of heart disease, the intervals may be more than your body can take.  Even athletes need to be careful what kind of HIIT program they choose:  for instance, long-distance runners should have more aerobic exercise and use sprinting for the intense intervals because that targets the muscles they need to improve.

Interval training may be a new name, but it describes a training technique that’s been around for a long time.  It’s not as easy as continuous exercise, but you get results much faster and enjoy many long-term benefits.  So if you want to see what HIIT can do for you, contact Epic Interval Training today and sign up for one of our training sessions.