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High Intensity Interval Training

A trend in fitness training these days is high intensity interval training, sometimes called HIIT. Although it's been around for many years, it seems to come and go as a favorite trend.

It’s a variation on the many aerobic workouts you can do to promote better cardio health, lose fat and increase lean muscle tissue. It can also have other health benefits - latest research indicates that it can help people with diabetes, better manage diabetes. Although it’s similar in style to more traditional interval training techniques, there are also important differences.

Understanding High Intensive Interval Training

High intensity interval training focuses on very short sessions of alternating moderate and maximum aerobic workouts. The varying intensity of the cardio workout improves your body’s ability to burn fat. Studies have shown that when you work out at a steady pace for 20-30 minutes or more, your body actually begins to conserve fat stores in an effort to protect the body, since it doesn’t know how much it needs to conserve for the long haul. Varying the intensity of your workout in two or three minute intervals, on the other hand, essentially confuses the body – it doesn’t have time to adjust to the swiftly changing demands of your body.

There are several positive side effects to HIIT. In addition to improving the efficiency of fat burning, it also decreases the amount of muscle mass being burned as calories, making your workout more targeted and more efficient. You can also burn more calories in a shorter period of time. A good high intensity interval training workout takes around a half hour and gives you the same benefit as an hour long, more traditional program. You’ll also improve your body’s oxygen consumption and processing capabilities.

It’s crucial to understand that HIIT isn’t for everybody. While almost anybody can do some type of interval training, whether it’s treadmill workouts or jogging, walking and sprinting in the park, anyone who isn’t already in decent shape should work up over several weeks or months’ time before trying HIIT. Anyone with cardiac problems should consult a physician before engaging in this high intensity form of exercise.

Getting Started with HIIT

Keep in mind that high intensity interval training doesn’t mean simply increasing your walk to a brisk jog and then back down again every few minutes. The more intensive phases of HIIT require you to push yourself to the limit – you have to be performing at your maximum heart rate range. A 2:1 HIIT ratio means if you jog for 2 minutes, you need to sprint at top speed for one minute, then drop back down. If you need more recovery time (your heart rate should return to about 65% during recovery), try a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio. The key is to really push yourself during the max workout intervals.

Typical beginner’s HIIT treadmill workouts can be completed in a half hour. One session might look like this:
5 minute warm up
1 minute maximum capacity workout
2 minute recovery/moderate workout
Repeat 1 and 2 minute sessions 5 times
5 minute cool down

Your warm up and cool down are essential to the workout. Skipping either one will reduce the effectiveness of your workout and can lead to injuries, since you’ll soon be pushing your body to the max. Over time you can increase the length of each interval, but keep the times relatively close in length; for instance, a two minute max followed by a five minute moderate interval. No interval should ever go beyond five minutes. You can make an HIIT exercise program last as long as 45 minutes when you’ve progressed over time, but any longer than that and you aren’t getting any additional gain.

The true beauty of high intensity interval training? Knowing that your treadmill workouts are not only more effective, they are even helping you burn more calories while spending less time on the treadmill.

About the Author:
Kevin Urban is the editor/webmaster at TreadmillTalk.com, a site offering treadmill reviews and tips on treadmill workouts. See their best treadmill buys for 2017 in four different categories.

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