Get The Facts On HIIT
We all know the importance of cardiovascular exercise to our health and fitness.
For a long time, doctors and Personal Trainers have advocated steady state cardiovascular activities such as jogging and cycling as ideal forms of exercise.
However, over the last few years more trainers have been attuned to a type of physical activity that lasts half as long as steady state exercise but burns more fat and builds muscle at the same time.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT has become increasingly popular as trainers tend to favour physical activity that can yield productive results without requiring too much time.
In a 2016 survey by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), HIIT ranked 3rd among current fitness trends. Steady state cardio was not even ranked in the top 20.
What is HIIT? HIIT involves alternating short bursts of sub-maximal or maximal effort with a protracted period of rest.
A typical HIIT session will not last longer than 30 minutes.
As HIIT has grown in popularity, it has continued to spark debate and over time myths have developed regarding its effectiveness.
Here are 5 myths on HIIT that have been debunked…
Myth #1: Everyone Can Do A HIIT Workout
Before you start an HIIT program, it would be best to have your level of fitness assessed.
With HIIT, you will be hitting 85% to 95% of your maximum heart rate. Even if this will only be for 20 to 30 seconds, the intensity level would be very high.
You have to make sure you can accommodate the degree of work and stress on your muscles and joints. Start out slowly and build up intensity as you get fitter.
Myth #2: HIIT And SMIT Are One And The Same
SMIT is Supra Maximal Interval Training. It is a training method where all-out effort is followed by a protracted period complete rest or zero activity.
This is not the same as HIIT were you could be walking in between bouts of sprints or jumping rope between bodyweight intervals.
Both are highly intense but studies have shown that prolonged SMIT leads to quicker diminishing returns and lack of interest compared to HIIT.
Myth #3: HIIT Is The Most Effective Method For Staying Fit And Healthy
HIIT is great at burning body fat and staying in shape but it should not be the only method in your exercise tool box.
Your fitness program should also include strength training and methods for improving agility, flexibility and conditioning.
This means you should consider weight-training, bodyweight exercises and to always include a stretching regimen in your exercise plan.
Myth #4: The More Frequent HIIT The Better The Results
HIIT is very intense which is why its duration should not exceed 30 minutes. The ideal frequency for HIIT is only 3 days a week at the most.
If you perform HIIT more than that, you could be exposing your joints to injury.
In addition, because you are working at near maximum effort, you are also pushing the capacity of your Central Nervous System or CNS.
This could lead to burn out and compromise your immune system.
Myth #5: Steady State Cardio Is More Effective In Burning Body Fat
Trainers who claim steady state cardio is more effective in burning fat than HIIT point to long distance runners and triathlon participants who are very lean.
Yes, they are lean but they are also almost bereft of any muscle tone or definition.
On the other hand, HIIT proponents present sprinters, gymnasts and weight-lifters as exhibits “A”, “B” and “C”.
Sprinters compared to long distance runners have incredible definition but at the same time carries well-toned and shaped muscle.
HIIT burns more body fat because when you work at 95% capacity you are consuming glycogen stores.
Therefore, there are less chances of body fat storage. Studies have also shown your metabolism remains high for a longer period compared to steady state cardio.
HIIT is an effective form of exercise and should be part of anyone’s fitness routine.
But at the same time, do not forget the other important components of fitness to achieve overall health and wellness.