HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. While the acronym is fairly new, interval training has been around for about as long as the fitness industry itself. Some might even argue it has been around even longer. To qualify as interval training, an activity must include “intervals” or breaks for rest between bursts of movement. Add intensity to the bursts, and HIIT is born!
As humans we have been engineered for HIIT, thanks to our hunter-gatherer forbearers who practiced fast bouts of activity between periods of rest as a part of their survival.
Because of this, our bodies respond well to high-intensity exercise. It makes us fitter, stronger, and happier.
How does it work?
HIIT makes you FITTER: VO2 max, or a measure of the most oxygen your body can utilize during bouts of intense exercise, has been shown to improve with interval training. An increase in your VO2 max means your heart is working more efficiently to pump blood to your lungs. As a result, your muscles can then benefit from more oxygenated blood supporting their function.
One study followed three groups of previously sedentary adult men over 12 weeks. One group did 10 minutes of high intensity interval training on stationary bikes; one did 45 minutes of continuous, medium intensity training on stationary bikes; and one group was the control and made no change to their activity. Remarkably, peak oxygen uptake increased after training by 19% in both active groups, despite the 5x-less time commitment of the interval training group!
HIIT makes you STRONGER: Strength training employs the anaerobic systems of the body. As you get stronger, your anaerobic capacity--or your muscles’ ability to use Adenosine Triphosphate and Creatine Phosphate and produce lactic acid--will increase. Studies have shown that short bouts of high-intensity exercise increase the muscle’s anaerobic capacity.
One 6-week study had subjects perform 7-8 sets of 20 seconds at 170% of VO2max followed by 10 seconds of rest 5 days each week. At the end of the study, subjects showed a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity! That is a huge increase for only 4 minutes of training a day!!
HIIT makes you HAPPIER: If you have done a HIIT workout, you have likely already experienced that elevation in mood that succeeds your sweat session. But does HIIT make you any happier than traditional steady-state cardio?
Endurance runners love to talk about the “runner’s high,” or the onslaught of endorphins that follows a long, challenging run. How does HIIT compare? According to a 2017 study, HIIT releases more pain-killing endorphins in the brain than moderate-intensity exercise.
BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is a protein that affects brain-cell survival and repair, mood regulation, and cognitive function. Additionally, low levels of BDNF have been associated with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. A 2016 study reported increased levels of BDNF after high-intensity exercise. This may be the most important health benefit of HIIT. Physical fitness isn’t worth much if it isn’t accompanied by mental and emotional well-being. And happy clients will keep coming back!
This is just a small taste of the information you will gain from the Holistic HIIT course. You will come away with a sound understanding of HIIT, how to design a program, and how to make it work for both the individual and the group as whole. You will leave with a sure-fire approach to get the word out to any and all potential clients, ensuring they are excited to start and stay with this motivating, effective format! Move over boutiques and fads, Holistic HIIT is here!