Your heart and the arteries that transport blood around your body are part of your cardiovascular system. The heart pumps blood throughout your body, delivering vital oxygen and minerals. It’s critical to have a healthy lifestyle if you want to keep your heart healthy. A healthy lifestyle involves eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises are an excellent way to keep your heart healthy and improve overall wellness.
HIIT is a training method that involves alternating short bursts of intense activity or near maximal effort, with periods of low activity or rest in between bouts. It aims to increase performance by recruiting anaerobic energy systems to the max. Because the body significantly recruits an anaerobic energy system, it differs from aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise in terms of intensity, interval duration, and several bouts (although not entirely excluding aerobic pathways).
Basics of HIIT
HIIT involves repeating brief bursts of running, cycling, or other similar activity with maximal or near maximal effort. For example, a cycling session, in HIIT training might look like this:
- Warm up your body by pedalling at a slow tempo or with resistance for 5 minutes (At around 60% of your maximal effort).
- Pedal at roughly 85% of your maximal effort for the next 30 seconds.
- Slow down and pedal at a comfortable pace for the following 30-45 seconds.
- Repeat this process four to five times.
- Cool down for 3-5 minutes by pedalling at a low speed.
You might use a comparable scheduled intensity running program at an athletic track or even on a treadmill, as well as swimming or rowing.
Fartlek or “speed play” training, which originated in Scandinavia several decades ago, also uses the same principle and may be recognisable to runners. Researchers have since experimented with various interval patterns, changing the intensity and duration of the all-out and recuperation portions.
According to studies, interval training provides the same fitness gains as moderate-intensity exercise, but in a smaller fraction of the time. HIIT training can be safe, effective, and, perhaps most importantly, efficient for individuals dealing with health issues. After just two weeks, the trial participants of HIIT training exhibited notable improvements in glucose metabolism, cardiovascular fitness, and body composition. Though the study was modest, the findings imply that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has great promise for boosting fitness in older people without a significant time commitment.
HIIT and Heart Health
According to studies, tertiary care and cardiac rehabilitation settings appear relatively safe in patients with cardiovascular disease, such as coronary artery disease and heart failure.
High-intensity interval training is an excellent approach to avoiding heart disease. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 15-second exercise intervals at peak power followed by a 15-second passive recovery were the most efficient in reducing cardiovascular disease.
In CAD and heart failure patients, a 12-week HIIT regimen was more successful than moderate continuous training (MCT) for energy expenditure in boosting aerobic capacity and enhancing left ventricular remodelling, endothelial function, and quality of life.
One study, for example, looked at research on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in heart patients and discovered evidence of its safety and efficacy. Other studies have also demonstrated HIIT to be safe in patients with chronic stroke and inactive older men.
Similarly, researchers looked at ten trials on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in older people with comorbidities like coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. According to the meta-analysis, participants who followed HIIT regimens improved their cardiorespiratory fitness more than those who followed moderate-intensity exercise programs.
It is vital to understand the causes of heart-related issues to understand HIIT’s impact on your heart health. Obesity, excess fat deposition, inactive lifestyle, stress, inadequate sleep and blockage in the arteries are the primary causes of heart-health issues. HIIT can help combat all the problems if you do it right. Also, it requires less time than moderate-intensity exercises. Hence, it is an effective medium for people who have time-restrained commitments.
Advantages of HIIT
HIIT has a lot of advantages over other types of training. Here are a few of them:
According to research, most fat that leaves your body escapes as a part of the breathing process. HIIT training helps improve the efficiency of your lungs by increasing your maximum oxygen uptake. The more oxygen you take in, the faster the metabolism and thus the more fat you burn off. Another added benefit of HIIT exercise is that fat continues to burn faster for 24–48 hours after your workout!
Aforementioned, HIIT can get the same outcomes as moderate-intensity exercises but in a shorter time. According to one study, 2.5 hours of HIIT training yielded almost the same results as 10.5 hours of endurance training. Furthermore, there are many HIIT exercises that can be performed in the convenience of your home.
Regular HIIT workouts assist in raising insulin sensitivity, which can help to prevent diabetes.
HIIT uses anaerobic training, whereas steady-state cardio (such as running at the same pace for the duration of your run) is an aerobic exercise beneficial for weight reduction and general conditioning. That means HIIT promotes muscular growth in addition to cardiovascular activity.
Getting Started with HIIT
When it comes to HIIT, the choices are endless. For novices, here are a few different HIIT routines to try.
For 20 seconds, perform each exercise as hard and fast as possible, then rest as advised.
- 20 seconds of squats
- 20 seconds Rest
- 20 seconds of push-ups
- 20 seconds Rest
- 20 seconds of lunges
- 20 seconds Rest
- 30 seconds plank
- 1-minute Rest
Then start all over again. Repeat the interval three times
This one is a little more difficult. For 30 seconds, do each action as hard and fast as possible, then rest as indicated.
- 30 seconds of jumping jacks
- 30 seconds of rest
- 30 seconds of burpees
- 30 seconds of rest
- 30 seconds for mountain climbers
- 30 seconds of rest
- 30 seconds of high knee marching
- 2 minutes of rest
Repeat the interval 3 times
HIIT training brings several health benefits with it. However, if you overdo it, it can be harmful to your health. It can lead to hormonal imbalance, and joint pain, hamper mental health, and negatively affect your sleep. Hence, it is essential to know the adequate time and the correct ways to perform the exercises. You must consult a fitness professional before starting with your HIIT routines.
How Often Should You Perform HIIT?
HIIT shouldn’t make up the majority of your weekly training program.
Many experts recommend taking at least one rest or low-intensity day between your HIIT workouts for two to three intensive weekly sessions that last no longer than 30 minutes (rest, warm-up, and cool-down time included).
The American Council on Exercise recommends doing HIIT one to two times a week to reduce the risk of injury and incorporating it into your routine for six weeks to maximise its benefits and complement other forms of exercise like strength training.
Many people feel that by adding more exercise to their week, they would see better outcomes. However, exercise is only one aspect of leading a healthy lifestyle. It is inextricably linked to diet, rest, and personal well-being.
You may risk burnout, motivation loss, and injury if you continue to push your body beyond its limitations. So if your HIIT workouts make you feel more depressed than pleased, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Consider your objectives and how you might achieve them through various forms of exercise. For example, low-intensity aerobic workouts, resistance training, yoga, pilates, and outdoor activities are beneficial forms of exercise.
You should introduce shorter bursts of HIIT into your regimens, such as a handful of five-minute interval exercises between weightlifting or aerobic sessions if you want to keep some type of HIIT in your routine. Another alternative is to limit your HIIT workouts to once a week and complement them with a rest day to allow your body to recover.
If you already feel overtrained with HIIT, you can take a few weeks off and gradually incorporate short intervals into your routines.
Keep in mind that HIIT isn’t for everyone. Exercise has a different effect on each of us. In the end, sticking to what you enjoy rather than what you believe you should be doing is vital if you want to keep your body going for a long time.
In recent decades, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has gained popularity as a type of cardiovascular exercise that is particularly effective at burning fat, increasing strength, increasing endurance, and improving glucose metabolism (the way your body burns energy). As a result, HIIT has become a staple in the toolkits of most personal trainers and athletic coaches.
Studies show HIIT workouts are an excellent tool to burn more calories in lesser time than other types of training, particularly steady-state activities like jogging. In addition, HIIT can provide the same health advantages as a regular moderate-intensity exercise in half the time. HIIT can also help lower resting blood pressure, increase VO2 max, lose body fat, and other benefits.
Overdoing any exercise can harm your body, but it’s especially vital to be cautious with HIIT. According to new research, doing too much high-intensity exercise can undermine the benefits you started doing it for in the first place.