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The truth about HIIT training: everything you need to know!

Lately, many have been talking about the so-called HIIT training (also known as High Intensity Interval Training) and its benefits over the so-called Cardio (steady-state).

In this article we will unveil secrets, studies and give you some tips.

What is HIIT training?

The so-called HIIT training involves several types of exercises:

  • Aerobic – Sports like: running, swimming or cycling, all those involve a higher oxygen consumption and have an average intensity.
  • Anaerobic – Sports involving more intensity and lower oxygen consumption, focused on large muscle groups, such as bodybuilding, speed races or jumps.

This type of training is intended to reach a maximum intensity for a short period of time, interrupted with a short or non-existent rest time.

Here’s a good example:  Try rope jumping at an average cadence for 5 minutes and try 5 minutes for 30 sec. sets. jumping as fast as possible and the other 30 sec. slow jumping or stop.

Remember that in these 30 seconds you have to give the maximum. In a short time your heart beat quickens and soon you begin to perspire.

This type of training speeds up our metabolism and burns fat mass during exercise and approximately 48 hours after training, which accelerates all fat burning and decreases adipose tissue without damaging the muscles.

According to the study “The effects of high-intensity inttermitent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women”, it was noted that for 15 weeks, when compared with classic training, HIIT led to reduced body fat, reduction of insulin resistance and increased cardiovascular oxygenation.

But what is the revolution that this type of training brings in the world of fitness?

First, it’s important that you understand the difference between HIIT and a more classic training, and then we will tell you what the advantages and disadvantages of HIIT training are! Ok?

Jumping rope and vary periods of high intensity with less intense periods is a good example of a HIIT training

HIIT training and Steady-state Cardio

To better understand what each one is, let’s give you an example.

John and Philip run regularly.

John does a more classic workout, where he maintains a steady pace without increasing or slowing down (his workouts range from 30 to 60 minutes).

Philip has a busy life and prefers faster workouts, that make him perspire and keep him in form. So, he constantly alternates an intense rhythm with a slower rhythm. It’s almost an explosion! His trainings don’t last much longer than 20 minutes.
A race that alternates intensities, moderate pace and sprint, is a typical example of a HIIT training Philip has a busy life and prefers faster workouts, that make him perspire and keep him in form. So, he constantly alternates an intense rhythm with a slower rhythm. It’s almost an explosion! His trainings don’t last much longer than 20 minutes.

Both types of racing have advantages. John prefers a “steady-state cardio” training and Philip does a typical HIIT training. Both are passionate about running and have a healthy body and are fit.

The training of Philip continues to involve parts of John’s training, especially in moments of slowing down, where the pace decreases, but John doesn’t risk so much and bets more on balance.

But the main difference is the intensity that they involve and what comes from it.

Cardio is very important for you to burn calories during training. Another important thing is that as the pace is more moderate in steady-state cardio, it’s easier to withstand longer trainings. In addition, they are indicated for risk groups where physical effort should be moderate, for example chronic patients.

On the other hand, doing only steady-state cardio can give you some problems because you are always performing the same movements and massacring the same parts of the body. Plus: they are not the best option to gain strength or muscle.

Steady-state cardio is less intense and allows longer trainings

Now that you know more details about steady-state cardio, you must be asking yourself what the advantages and disadvantages are of doing an explosive workout like HIIT training.

Here you will learn everything!

Advantages of HIIT training

This type of training, in addition to reducing fat, gives us greater cardiovascular endurance and increases metabolism.

Unlike steady-state cardio in which the highest number of calories is burned during training, in this training you will burn calories even when you are finished or when you are at rest, because the post-workout oxygen consumption (or pauses) increases (EPOC).

This workout can make you younger. According to the study Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans HIIT increased the capacity of the mitochondria (one of the constituents of cells important for cellular respiration and which is fundamental to provide energy to the body) with 69% for the older people that were evaluated.

As we get older, our body loses some of its capacity and our cellular tissue is going to decline, so this study is highly favorable in demonstrating that HIIT positively affects the capabilities of elderly people by slowing the aging process and making them “younger”.

It’s good for those who have a fast pace of life and who, at the same time, care about being fit. If this is your case then try doing these exercises, it doesn’t take long for you to start sweating and see the effects of this training!

Unlike steady-state cardio, in a HIIT training the gains in muscle mass may be higher and you avoid always working the same parts of the body.

It’s very varied, here we gave an example of a run, but you can do a HIIT bodybuilding training, without breaks between the sets or shortening the time of the pauses.

HIIT training is versatile, doesn’t require much equipment and can be practiced anywhere

Disadvantages of HIIT training

Although it’s a short training, its demand and intensity make it not recommended, at least at an early stage, for:

  • people with hypertension.
  • people with hernias.
  • people with breathing problems.
  • people with little physical activity.

In these cases, we advise to consult a health professional, and to always adapt the training to certain pathologies.

This type of training can be addictive because of its results and its speed, but don’t abuse, it’s very intense and your body needs rest to avoid injuries and you can’t always be damaging your muscle tissue without rebuilding it in the periods of recovery. Learn more about this in our blog post “How to reduce muscle pain and recover effectively post-workout”.

In short, HIIT training improves our health, increases metabolism, VO2 (cardiovascular oxygenation), has a great versatility because it can be adapted to anyone (through professional advice) and can be done anywhere without equipment, is adapted to new technologies (a simple app and you’ve already done your training) and helps you to lose weight and to be in shape.

In other words, HIIT challenges you, gets you in shape and, as they say in the FITNESS world, “HIIT makes you younger”.

Do you do HIIT training? Tell us what your secret is in the comments below!


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About David Silva

David Silva
David Silva is a Personal Trainer and FIT and Life Coach. He uses his profession to inspire others and get them to achieve their goals, whether through his job or his writing. His motto is "A mission of life is a mission accomplished".

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