There are always tons of trendy workout routines popping up here and there — but not all of them are backed by science.
If you haven’t heard of high-intensity interval training yet, you probably will soon. High-intensity interval training, commonly referred to as HIIT, is any workout that alternates between short periods of intense activity and fixed periods of lower intensity or rest.
“HIIT works because it has significant metabolic effects on the body,” says Irene Lewis-McCormick, M.S., C.S.C.S. “The higher intensities create incredible overload and this requires a massive response of the metabolic system to burn more calories post workout.”
People have been going crazy over this workout, and for good reason. If you’re thinking about trying it out on your own, consider these seven benefits of incorporating high-intensity interval training into your workout.
1. It’s Fast And Efficient
“It is a common misperception that you need to spend an excessive amount of time on a cardio machine to get the fat and calorie burning benefits of exercise,” says weight loss therapist, Dr. Candice Seti, Psy.D., CPT, CNC.
“The HIIT model proves just the opposite to be true; in just 15 minutes of HIIT, you can see more results that jogging on the treadmill for an hour! Basically, this intensive type of workout burns more fat in less time than steady state cardio.”
2. It’s Enjoyable
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine and Science In Sports found that people who incorporated a 10-20-30 interval training into their workout were more likely to stick to their exercise program and lose weight than those who stuck to a normal running program.
3. You Burn More Fat
A major benefit of high-intensity interval training is your ability to to efficiently burn fat. Multiple studies show that HIIT burns more fat than similar exercises with constant intensities.
More calories are required post-workout to repair your muscles, even if you’re exercising for a shorter period of time.
4. It Preserves Your Muscle
Unlike regular cardio, high-intensity interval training can not only prevent muscle loss, but actually promote muscle growth. “HIIT workouts help you maintain your muscle and even encourage their growth and development, while regular steady state cardio can actually be associated with muscle loss,” says Seti.
5. It Improves Your Performance
When you incorporate high-intensity interval training into your workouts, you may see your athletic performance improve in other areas as well. One study from the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that aerobic high-intensity intervals maximal oxygen uptake more than in moderate training.
6. It Improves Your Heart Health
High-intensity interval training can make some large improvements in your heart health. Studies show it is better for patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure, and it can also reduce your risk of a heart attack.
7. It’s Free
“The other beautiful thing about HIIT is that you can do it anywhere and anytime,” says Seti. “No gym? No problem! Head out to the park or any stretch of grass and do running or skipping intervals.
Stuck in a hotel room? That’s a perfect place for squat or high knee intervals. Just about anything that gets your body moving intensely will work if you can slow it down and speed it up.”