Let’s be honest, the fitness industry loves its fads, jargon, buzz words and fleeting trends.
The result more often than not – and unless you’re a real gym bunny – is confusing for your average person simply keen to lose a few pounds, trim that waistline or just feel generally better and more energized for life’s demands.
There is one concept though that is pretty easy to follow and comes with benefits that continue long after you’ve left the Spin class or stopped pounding the treadmill. In fitness terms, it really is a win-win.
It’s known as HIIT and stands for High Intensity Interval Training. But what exactly is it?
HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with periods at lower intensity that serve as a “recovery” window. A workout can typically be done in up to or less than 30 minutes but, crucially and despite the duration, HIIT has been proven to produce health benefits twice that of moderate intensity exercise.
“The key to HIIT is that concept of high bursts of physical activity followed by lower intensity recovery periods that are then repeated over the duration of the workout,” explains Phil Wyatt, Wellness manager at Sencio Community Leisure.
“You can use HIIT in a whole range of ways – running, cycling (either outdoors or at an indoor class) and body weight exercises to name just a few. There are also many group exercise classes that utilize HIIT to give people all its benefits but in a fun, sociable setting.
“The other huge plus of HIIT is that it can be done in a much shorter time that a typical gym workout or exercise class. In a busy, pressurized world that makes it something highly appealing to many. You can get a great workout, have a shower and be in-and-out in 45 minutes or less.”
But what of the benefits? Well, they are numerous and should inspire even the most ardent of couch potatoes.
Research has shown HIIT helps people burn between 25 and 30-per cent more calories than other forms of exercise.
Why? Because – and assuming you’ve worked as hard as you can with your own limits – the intensity of the workout elevates your body’s metabolism for hours after you’ve stopped exercising. The result is you burn additional calories even after you’re finished. And these aren’t just “trendy” claims, they’ve been backed up by several pieces of respected research.
Other benefits of HIIT is that it can reduce body fat, including visceral fat – that’s the one we need to be most concerned about; can help build muscle; reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels (important in cases of Type II diabetes); enhance oxygen consumption, and generally improve our health – placing us in a better position to fight illness and gain more energy for life’s demands.
“People might think you need to be some sort of elite athlete to sign-up for a HIIT class but that’s simply not the case,” says Phil. “You don’t. The key is to push yourself as much as you can but within your own limits.
“As with any form of exercise, especially if you’re new to it, you should always check-in with a medical practitioner before getting started. Or just have an informal chat with one of the Sencio Wellness team – they’ll be delighted to tell you more about all the benefits of HIIT.”
Find a HIIT class at your local leisure centre and use the filter for high intensity:
White Oak: www.sencio.org.uk/white-oak/fitness-classes