HIIT me up, baby!

As a bit of an endurance junkie …

In my spare time I like to swim and bike, but running is my jam … I also like to yoga.

… I love nothing more than hitting the outdoors for a long run or ride.

In fact, I’ve spent countless hours over the last 10-plus years training for various triathlon and running events (short course, long course and somewhere in between).

I even represented Australia in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in South Africa in 2018.

My little claim to fame, right there.

But, while I can run (and ride) for days, I’m not very strong – especially in the upper body – so this year, after learning about it from J, I decided to take up HIIT.

‘HIIT and Run Fridays’ are my new fave training days! Shoutout to the guys at Studio99 Fitness Centre.

What is HIIT?

HIIT (aka high intensity interval training) has reportedly become increasingly popular because it’s a quick and effective way to improve your health.

It’s all about the quality not the quantity – 45 minutes and you are DONE! … I mean, literally, done … SPENT! Ha, kidding. Your body gets used to it after a few sessions.

HIIT basically involves periods of high intensity work, interspersed with recovery periods.

Think of it as basically strength-endurance.

It goes a little something like – four to six minutes of high intensity exercise with a two-minute break, repeated.

While I’ve noticed a huge difference in my running from taking a few HIIT classes so far – I’m holding myself better because my core is stronger and I’m powering up hills from the strength work – researchers are also finding that this type of training improves health.

HIIT for health

A new review study published in the Journal of Physiology reveals that low-volume HIIT (typically involving less than ~20 minutes total exercise time – inclusive of warm up and cool down) has health benefits comparable to interventions that meet the current World Health Organisation (WHO) physical activity guidelines (150-300 minutes of moderate activity/week or 75-100 minutes of vigorous activity/week).

The review builds on the authors’ recent study published in Diabetes Care, which showed that as little as four minutes of HIIT, three times per week for 12 weeks significantly improved blood sugar levels, fat in the liver, and cardiorespiratory fitness in adults with type 2 diabetes.

According to the researchers, the review also found that low-volume HIIT can also improve heart function and arterial health.

A HIIT class certainly gets the heart pumping!

“While the WHO guidelines may serve their purpose at a population level, individualised and tailored low-volume HIIT interventions delivered by appropriately trained exercise professionals may be more effective at an individual level, especially for time-poor individuals.

“This research is especially important now as people are looking for new and exciting ways to engage in regular exercise, after a year of lower physical activity due to the [Covid-19] pandemic,” says corresponding author of the study, Dr Angelo Sabag.

So, while incorporating long hours of training or exercise into your busy routine may not seem too appealing or attainable, adding in some shorter HIIT workouts is something most of us can include in our busy schedules.

I, for one, am loving the results I’m getting from my weekly HIIT sessions.

x G.

Feature image by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

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