One of the hottest things in fitness right now is HIIT or high intensity interval training. Basically, this means exercising in short bursts of intense exercise (usually somewhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes) with a similar amount of rest. These types of work-outs are usually shorter in duration than a typical workout, lasting for a total of 15 to 30 minutes.
Who Does This Training?
Typically, interval training has been exclusively performed by athletes. Runners, basketball players, and soccer players used these workouts to improve their endurance and speed, and used interval training to enhance performance in competition. For a long time, it was thought that the average person didn’t need to engage in anything so strenuous because moderate activity elicits plenty of benefits. However, HIIT has begun to hit the mainstream and people are starting to talk.
The most popular HIIT workout on the market is Insanity. It is an at-home video program which requires no equipment. You just use your body weight and engage in jumping, kick-boxing, and plyometrics in intense intervals with little rest.
Does it Work?
Interesting question. So far, the evidence says that yes, this type of workout can be very effective in aiding in weight loss and can actually give you some of the same heart benefits as moderate exercise. The New York Times has a nice article this morning about a study done at McMaster University investigating the effects of interval training on cardiac patients. The training was done in 1 minute intervals on a cycle at 90% of the patients heart rate max and they were given 1 minute to rest after each interval. They worked out for 20 miuntes per day, several times per week. Amazingly, the HIIT patients had similar, if not better improvements in cardiac function and vascular following the workout. There is also some research suggesting that HIIT is effective in reducing insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients as well. However, there is one thing I do want to ask you before you decide to start HIIT.
Are you actually going to do it?
Almost any form of exercise is beneficial, but it will only improve your life if you actually do it! HIIT is intense, especially if you get a commercial program like Insanity. After a long hard day, are you more likely to take a walk around the block, or work out at your heart rate max? The most important thing for your health is actually exercising, so if you find HIIT enjoyable, awesome! Get started! But, if not, there are other ways to improve your health and your heart.
Have you ever tried Insanity? How long did you stick with it?