HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a workout routine that employs fast-paced, high-intensity workouts that focus on improving your cardio. HIIT is notorious for being a difficult exercise routine because you take regular exercises like jump squats and kettlebell swings and take them to the next level by increasing the speed at which you do them. In order to do HIIT, you have to give it 100%, giving it anything less, and you will be losing out on some of the benefits. With that said, what is HIIT actually good for?
HIIT can provide you with a vast amount of benefits, as long as you are doing the exercises correctly and giving them everything you have. Here are some of the benefits you will gain from doing HIIT exercises.
- Improves heart health
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol
- It helps you lose weight
- It helps you build strength and stamina
- Improves mental and emotional health
- Improves bone and joint health
- Most HIIT exercises require no equipment and can be done anywhere
These are some of the significant benefits you can gain from HIIT exercises. However, remember that you have to give HIIT everything you have. Giving it anything less than 100% can drastically reduce the quality of benefits gained from these strenuous exercises.
As you continue to read this article, we will explain what HIIT is exactly and cover some examples of HIIT exercises. Furthermore, we will discuss the significant benefits you can gain from doing HIIT.
What Is HIIT Exactly?
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, consists of traditional exercises that are meant to be done as fast and hard as possible. While doing HIIT, you will be doing a simple exercise like jump squats; however, you will need to do them as fast as possible.
A typical HIIT exercise will be doing jump squats as fast as possible while maintaining proper form and technique for around 20 seconds. After you have done as many jump squats as you can in that short period, you will then rest for roughly one minute. During the rest period, your body will be working extra hard to replenish your body with oxygen to revitalize your muscles, heart, and lungs.
Resting in between your 20-second bouts of exercise is a crucial element to HIIT. While you do these super fast exercises, you will barely have time to breathe correctly, but that is the point of HIIT. During these 20 second bouts of exercise, your body will depend on anaerobic pathways to break down oxygen in your body to give you a source of energy.
While anaerobic pathways give you a source of energy, the source is finite and depends on having oxygen in your system. This is why the rest periods are so long. They are used to fully replenish the oxygen in your system so you can go just as hard on the next set.
After your rest period is over, you should repeat the exercise four to six times to complete the exercise. Furthermore, HIIT is usually made up of multiple exercises that are done in quick succession of each other. For example, do four to six sets of jump squats, then follow it up with mountain sliders, and follow the mountain sliders with burpees.
5 Examples Of HIIT Exercises
Here we will list five super simple exercises so that you understand how to make your personal HIIT routine.
- Get a couple of Val slides or two small towels and place them on a smooth surface.
- Get into standard plank position and place your feet on the val slides or towels while keeping your feet hip-width apart.
- Bring your right keep up as close to your chest as you can while sliding your feet on the floor.
- Fully extend your right knee and return it to the starting position.
- As soon as your right leg returns to the starting position, immediately bend your left knee and bring it up as close to your chest as possible while sliding your foot on the floor.
- Return your left leg back to the starting position and repeat as fast as possible
Do mountain sliders in this manner for about 20 seconds and rest for about a minute. Repeat this exercise four to six times.
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- In standing position, keep your feet hip-width apart and toes facing slightly away from you
- Dropdown into the squatting position until your thighs are parallel with the floor
- Push up with your heels using explosive force to jump off of the ground
- As you land, return to the squat position. Repeat as fast as possible
Do jump squats in this manner for about 20 seconds and rest for about a minute. Repeat this exercise four to six times.
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- Start with your right leg in front and left leg about behind you
- Dropdown into a lunge, bending both knees until your right thigh is parallel with the floor and your left knee almost touches the floor
- From the lunge position jump into the air and switch the positions of your legs
- As you land immediately go into your next lunge, this time leading with your left knee
Do jump lunges in this manner for about 20 seconds and rest for about a minute. Repeat this exercise four to six times.
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- Grab a pair of lightweight dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height
- Drop into a squat
- As you stand up from the squatting position, raise both dumbbells above your head
- As you bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder height, lower back down to squatting position, and repeat as fast as possible
Do thrusters in this manner for about 20 seconds and rest for about a minute. Repeat this exercise four to six times.
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- Grab ahold of a moderate-weight kettlebell and hold it at eye level with extended arms. Keep your feet hip-width apart.
- Let the kettlebell swing downward while swinging your hips backward
- Thrust your hips forward as you swing the kettlebell back up to eye level
- Repeat as fast as possible
Do kettlebell swings in this manner for about 20 seconds and rest for about a minute. Repeat this exercise four to six times.
You can turn just about any cardio exercise into a HIIT exercise. All you have to do is increase the speed at which you do them and aim to give it everything you have for about 20 seconds, then rest for about a minute.
For example, you can make short sprints for about 20 seconds before returning to a slow jog for about a minute. You can also do the same thing on an exercise bike, pedal as fast and as hard as you can for 20 seconds before returning to a slow pedal for about a minute to rest.
What Are The Benefits Of HIIT?
There are an absolute ton of benefits that you can gain from HIIT. However, the quality and quantity of the benefits you can gain are dependent on how you are doing your HIIT. If you are giving it less than 100%, the benefits you gain will not be as impressive. Furthermore, not taking the proper amount of rest in between bouts can also have diminishing returns on the benefits you want to gain.
With that said, here is a list of the most important benefits you can gain from HIIT.
- Improves Heart Health
HIIT is a fantastic way to improve the overall health of your heart. Research has shown that HIIT can drastically improve your cardiovascular system. Improving your cardiovascular system will help strengthen your heart, increase blood flow efficiency, and allow oxygen to travel throughout your body more easily.
- Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes
One out of every 10 Americans have diabetes, and one out of every three are at risk of developing diabetes. However, by doing HIIT, you can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes by up to 35%.
Furthermore, HIIT is an excellent way to help manage your diabetes symptoms. A study has shown that people with type two diabetes that practice HIIT can have lower blood sugar levels up to 12% after their HIIT routine. HIIT can even lower your average blood sugar levels the more you do HIIT.
- Reduces The Risk Of High Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
Because HIIT helps improve and strengthen your cardiovascular system, it has been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing chronic heart disease and other heart problems. In addition, after a month of HIIT exercise, you can experience up to a 20% decrease in your overall blood pressure. Furthermore, a study has shown that steady HIIT exercises can reduce your cholesterol levels by 18% after three months.
- Helps You Lose Weight
One of the main benefits of cardio exercises is the amount of fat you can shred off of your body. With that said, because HIIT is basically cardio but harder and faster, HIIT can be more beneficial to your weight loss goals.
HIIT is so good for weight loss because, after super intense workouts, your body will enter a state in which it works extra hard to make up for the lack of oxygen in your system. While your body is working to replenish your oxygen supply, you are burning more calories. This process is known as the EPOC effect.
Even though your body will work to replenish oxygen in your system after any workout you do, when you do super intense workouts, like HIIT, your body needs to work extra hard to make up for the lack of oxygen in your system. The EPOC effect can last up to 24 hours, which means you will burn more calories for up to 25 hours. However, you will burn most of those calories through the EPOC effect in the first hour or two after your HIIT workout.
- Helps You Build Strength And Stamina
HIIT is primarily used as an intense cardio exercise. However, you can incorporate lightweight dumbbells and other weights to combine the benefits of strength training and cardio. We provided a few examples above with the thruster and kettlebell HIIT exercises, which are perfect examples of combining strength and cardio into one. This means you can improve your stamina through the cardio aspect of these workouts while also increasing your strength with the addition of weights.
- Improves Mental And Emotional Health
Exercising in and fashion is a fantastic way to increase your overall mental health and mood, and HIIT is no exception to that rule. Exercising releases endorphins in your brain, which have a number of additional benefits that come along with working out and staying healthy. Some of the benefits that come with the release of endorphins include:
- Reduce the effects of depression
- Reduce the effects of anxiety
- Improve your self-esteem
- Increase the effectiveness of your immune system
- It helps you get a good night's rest
- Increase your overall motivation
- Improves Bone And Joint Health
High-impact workouts, which are the basis of HIIT, are fantastic at improving your bone and joint health. Studies have shown that exercises like jump rope, running, and burpees increase the density of your bones in your back and lower body. Increasing bone density helps prevent injuries while exercising and doing day-to-today activities.
Furthermore, HIIT has been proven to improve joint health and help prevent the progression of arthritis and reduce joint swelling and pain.
- Most HIIT Exercises Require No Equipment And Can Be Done Anywhere
In our examples of HIIT exercises, we gave a few examples of HIIT exercises that don't require anything. For example, you can convert exercises like jump squats, lunges, push-ups, and running into HIIT exercises. Each of these exercises requires no equipment and can be done anywhere at any time.
HIIT is a fantastic way to improve your health in many different ways. From reducing the likelihood of developing chronic heart disease and other health issues to improving your mental health. While HIIT may be a more challenging way of exercising, the number of benefits you can gain from HIIT are impressive and make HIIT more than worth doing.