Those 10 – 20 minute workouts can make a real difference.
You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. -Charles Buxton
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.
I stumbled upon HIIT by accident in 2018 because I was just looking for something to do since I hurt my knee for what seemed like the millionth time.
As with most recent injuries, this happened when I was doing nothing extraordinary other than running outside and didn’t appear to be something that was going to go away easily.
I started googling various ideas of things to do to stay in shape if you couldn’t run, and HIT workouts came up as something that maybe I should try.
I found this one workout from Athlean — X that was a series of difficulty escalating burbies that were uber aggressive in my opinion.
When I first attempted the workout, there was absolutely no way that I was even coming close to finishing the entire thing without pausing for a minute to catch my breath.
By the time I was finished, I was absolutely SOAKED in sweat and only 12 minutes had elapsed.
The fact that the workout touted itself as a 10-minute work definitely let me know that I had A LOT of work to do to get myself to where I need to be in regards to my HIIT fitness level.
Over the past two years, I have been able to decrease my ability from the 12 minutes of death to close to 9 minutes of relative ease. I still have to work on my form a bit, but overall, I feel good about where I’ve landed versus where I started.
Now, I live by my HIIT workouts each week and do whatever I can to not miss them because they provide a number of benefits that I just can’t get from any other exercises.
It burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time
For someone who highly values efficiency, I am always appreciative of anything that allows me to do more in less time.
When I researched the different types of exercises that I could do, I was very impressed with the results of a solid HIIT training program.
In one study, researchers had one group of participants work out the entire 30 minutes at a moderate pace and had the other group give maximum effort for 20 seconds and then rest for 40 seconds.
Even though the maximum effort group only physically worked out for 1/3 of the time the moderate group did, they burned about the same amount of calories, showing you can burn calories more efficiently by doing HIIT training.
As someone who is often pressed for time to do all the things I want, this comes as a huge advantage to get in a good workout without having to spend a whole lot of time doing it — something that I’m sure many of us can appreciate.
It spikes your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished
With HIIT training, you are pushing yourself to a pretty high level of intensity (hence the name) during that short amount of time.
What this leads to is a heightened metabolic state that allows your body to burn more fat AFTER you stop working out. In one study completed in 2019, two groups do one steady run and one HIIT workout at two different times and then their metabolic rates were measured nine minutes after they finished.
When the groups did the HIIT workout, they were burning on average 3 kilocalories per minute, compared to 2.8 kilocalories per minute when they did the steady-state exercising.
The process is known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and takes place when your body is recovering from the workout that it just went through to heal and recover.
This usually takes place after intense cardio or weight lifting sessions and is part of the reason that your muscles grow with time.
HIIT workouts stimulate the natural creation of HGH, as it can go as much as 450% during the 24 hour period after your workout. This will increase your metabolic rate in the short term immediately following your workout and can increase your overall metabolic rate with consistent workouts.
Your cardiovascular system gets a solid workout
While short-quick training seems like it wouldn’t provide that much of a benefit to your heart, HIIT training does a lot of good to the strength and long-term health of your cardiovascular system.
Many people are not used to pushing themselves to the limit to get to the anaerobic zone, and a consistent HIIT regimen will help your body get used to having this type of stress put on it.
Due to your body’s ability to adapt, with time, this will help it become more efficient at producing oxygen and therefore working more efficiently overall.
In one study published in 2016, participants who performed HIIT workouts for four days per week at 20 minutes each session, saw their oxygen consumption increase by 9%.
These workouts produced the same results from an oxygen consumption standard as someone who worked out for twice as long doing steady-state cardio.
In another study published in 2017, participants in the HIIT group experienced a 25% increase in their oxygen consumption, which was almost identical to the steady-state cardio group that worked out for twice as long over the same period.
For those looking to accomplish more with less, this seems to be a no-brainer.
While steady-state cardio is great for when you want to zone out and think through a number of things as you go for a long run or bike, there is no denying that HIIT training is a great tool to have in your workout tool bag as needed.
Whether it is to burn calories quicker, increase your metabolic resting rate, or take your oxygen consumption to the next level, the benefits are pretty clear.
And while the pain of a HIIT workout is often much more intense than the serene feeling a good long run can give you, with time being one of the few things in life you can’t really put a price tag on, I’ll take it.