We all know how important physical activity is for our health, and many of us would love to build more muscle, lose excess weight or improve our overall fitness. However, with long days or hectic schedules, fitting in a regular workout routine can feel difficult if not impossible. 

But it may not be necessary to spend hours at the gym to get a great workout. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of workout routine that can take as little as 10 minutes to complete and has shown to be a highly effective way to improve or maintain fitness levels.

What is HIIT?

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) consists of short intervals of high-intensity exercise alternated with brief recovery periods. Active intervals are typically 30 seconds or less and recovery periods vary depending on the type of exercise you’re doing and number of “rounds” of intervals. 

A full HIIT workout ranges from about 10 to 30 minutes in duration. The types of exercises that can be performed vary widely but might include sprinting, body weight exercises, or biking. The main idea is to perform the exercise at the highest intensity possible, to get your heart rate up, and allow it to just recover before performing another interval. 

What are the benefits of a HIIT workout?

It’s been shown that doing a short 10-30 minute HIIT workout produces health benefits similar to what you would get from spending twice as long doing a workout of moderate intensity. Here are some of the ways that HIIT can benefit your health and fitness:

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Burn more calories

When you do a HIIT workout, you don’t just burn calories during the workout, but it increases your metabolism so that you continue to burn calories post-workout. This is due to something called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption that happens from short intervals of intense exercise followed by a rest period.

Burn more fat

Just as your body burns calories during and after a HIIT workout, it does the same thing with fat by tapping into fat stores in order to have the energy needed to return to a resting state following high-intensity activity.

Build more muscle 

The stress put on muscle tissue during a HIIT workout causes the release of hormones that build and repair muscle, leading to an increase in muscle mass.

More efficient recovery

Alternating short intervals of high-intensity activity with short intervals of rest trains your body to remove metabolic waste more efficiently and shortens the amount of time that you need to recover from activity.

Other physiological benefits

In addition to the benefits above, HIIT also promotes other positive changes to your overall health including increased aerobic efficiency, improved oxidative capacity of the muscles, and improved stroke volume.

It’s easy to see why HIIT has gained so much popularity. Not only is it a highly effective way to increase your fitness level and improve your overall health, but it only takes a few short minutes of your time. If you’re one of the many people looking for a way to stay fit without the stress of finding hours in your busy schedule, why not give HIIT a try?