High Intensity Interval Training, more commonly known as ‘HIIT’ is quite simply the idea of performing exercises with high effort for a short amount of time, followed by rest and repeating this process until the end of session or fatigue.

A good example of how HIIT works is repeated sprints. When completing the sprint we are putting in a maximal or near-maximal effort for the duration of the sprint, followed by a brief period of rest to regain your breath. This is then repeated multiple times.

So why is it so popular?
HIIT sessions require little time to complete, which is most likely the key reason why it has become so popular. A typical session could be done in 10-25 minutes, making it seem achievable for most people.

These sessions often use a combination of simple exercises that require little to no equipment and can be completed at home, outside, in the gym, or pretty much anywhere you have some free space.

What are the benefits?
HIIT puts a high level of stress on the cardiovascular system, and due to its short recovery it means that you don’t have enough time to fully recover before jumping back into the ‘effort phase’. This is why it is more effective in burning calories than steady state or normal aerobic exercise like walking on a treadmill.

As well as this, due to the nature of the exercise, it elevates your metabolism for hours after finishing the workout, meaning that calories will continue to be burnt for long after the session is done.

A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in 2012, looked at the effectiveness of HIIT as compared to moderate intensity continuous training in overweight females. It was concluded that although both methods produced positive results, HIIT was more effective in producing significant improvements in body composition, resting heart rate and maximal oxygen uptake, among other measures.

Who would HIIT suit?
HIIT would suit anyone looking to incorporate exercise into their busy schedule, whether it be a full time worker, a busy mum or a uni student trying to squeeze in some exercise between classes and studying.

What do I need to keep in mind?
It is important to remember that HIIT is performed at a very high intensity and that if you haven’t exercised for some time that it might be best to ease back into exercise before jumping straight into HIIT.

HIIT can be very demanding on joints and muscles, so it may not be ideal for older adults who have a pre-existing joint condition or who often find soreness in their joints following regular exercise. Anyone with pelvic floor weakness may also find the intensity and type of exercises performed to be difficult, so make sure you keep this in mind when first giving it a go!

It’s best to check with your doctor, or an Exercise Physiologist, to see if HIIT is suited to you, or for a tailored HIIT program that suits your medical history and fitness level.

Simple 10 minute HIIT session:
Complete each exercise for 30 seconds, with 20 seconds rest in between. Complete 3 rounds.
– Star Jumps
– Push ups
– Mountain Climbers
– Air Sqauts

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