Eleven Research-Backed Reasons You Should Be Doing HIIT
Last week, I introduced What Is It With HIIT?. The article delved into what this type of exercise is and how it compares to traditional cardio. This installment outlines 11 research-backed reasons why you should be doing HIIT instead of traditional cardio, especially for those interested in fat loss.
So why is HIIT so great – here are the reasons!
It’s great for busy people
HIIT stimulates similar or better physical improvements than moderate-intensity continuous training (CMT). The total time commitment required to achieve ideal fitness levels is substantially lower than traditional methods. This is great news, given that “lack of time remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation,” states M. J. Gibala, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University.
It’s very effective for fat loss (especially abdominal fat)
A study published in American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation cited 62 overweight and obese subjects who performed HIIT with strength training two to three times per week over nine months saw significant improvement in both waist circumference measurements and overall body fat. In contrast, longer exercise sessions exceeding 60 minutes stimulates over-production of stress hormones, like cortisol. High levels of cortisol contributes to the storage of abdominal fat.
It stimulates powerful anti-aging hormones
HIIT has been shown to stimulate the production of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH slows down aging by increasing exercise capacity, increasing bone density, increasing muscle mass, and decreasing body fat. In contrast, overdoing long bouts of traditional cardio can actually damage your mitochondria and accelerate aging.
It builds endurance faster
With HIIT, maximal exercise capacity (endurance) is increased in a very short time. It improves VO2 max (a marker of aerobic fitness) faster than long duration cardio.
It’s superior in preventing and controlling high blood pressure
A study published by the American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease showed women at high risk for hypertension saw greater improvements to blood pressure after just 16 weeks of HIIT, compared to the group that performed 16 weeks of CMT training. Improvements to insulin sensitivity, stiff arteries, and cardiorespiratory fitness were superior among the HIIT group.
It reduces risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke
It’s well known that traditional cardio produces these benefits, but research proves that if you are overweight or obese you can still reduce your cardiometabolic risk with HIIT. This means you can still get the life-saving benefits of cardio without a large time commitment.
It suppresses your appetite
In a study on the effects HIIT has on fat loss, Australian researchers cited a lower perceived appetite after HIIT training. Other researchers suggest this is partly due to release of an satiety hormone called peptide YY, as well as lowered levels of an appetite stimulant, ghrelin, after high intensity work. It gets even better because HIIT works best when paired with a progressive strength training program. Studies suggest that strength training releases gut hormones that regulate appetite during and after exercise.
You’ll see results faster
So fast that previously untrained people saw an improvement in endurance, muscle tone and performance in as little as six HIIT sessions. That’s fast!
It boosts your metabolism
Another benefit of HIIT is excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means that after you complete your workout, your oxygen consumption and calorie burning remain elevated for up to 48 hours. This higher metabolic level continues as your muscle cells are repaired and restored.
It helps you lose fat while preserving muscle
A common frustration among dieters and weight-loser/gainers is that they gain all the weight back – and more! This is because cutting calories and excessive traditional cardio (CMT) seems to encourage muscle loss. Loss of lean, metabolically active muscle tissue results in a decreased metabolism, which makes the fat come right back. Fortunately, strength training and HIIT allow you to preserve your precious muscle tissue and push your metabolism in overdrive.
It’s great for people with a short attention span
Boredom is one of the top three reasons why people stop exercising. Not only are these workouts too short to let your mind wander, but HIIT workouts don’t offer you the luxury of getting bored. This is because when you’re pushing hard – real hard – you’re busy sucking wind trying to catch your breath before the next interval. Getting bored with a HIIT workout is like getting bored while running to save your life if a bear was chasing you.
I hope that you enjoyed part two of this instructional series What Is It With HIIT?. If you would like to read part one, please click here.
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