High intensity interval training or HIIT for short is exactly what the name suggests. Highly intense, intervals of training. HIIT is not a new concept. It has been around for a very long time, but has recently gained traction as a few high profile trainers, athletes, actors and actresses have admitted to employing it as a workout strategy.
HIIT is basically a method of training in which short bursts of intense action, followed by short rest periods are repeated over and over again. There are a myriad of methods to employ this type of training. Box jumps as we see in the above image, sprints, and cycling are but a few. My preferred method is sprints, simply because it works for me. But is HIIT for you? Let's find out by exploring its pros and cons.
Pros of HIIT:
Time Efficiency: HIIT workouts are typically shorter in duration compared to traditional steady-state cardio workouts. The high-intensity intervals maximize the efficiency of the workout, allowing you to burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness in a shorter amount of time.
Increased Caloric Burn: HIIT workouts are known for their ability to boost metabolism and burn calories even after the workout is over. The intense bursts of exercise increase the metabolic rate, leading to continued calorie burn throughout the day.
Improved Cardiovascular Fitness: HIIT improves cardiovascular health by challenging the heart and lungs. The intervals of intense exercise push the cardiovascular system to adapt and become more efficient in delivering oxygen to the muscles, thereby improving overall cardiovascular fitness.
Muscle Building and Toning: HIIT workouts can help build lean muscle mass and improve muscle definition. The explosive movements and resistance exercises incorporated into HIIT routines engage multiple muscle groups, leading to strength gains and a toned physique.
Cons of HIIT:
Intensity and Injury Risk: HIIT workouts require a high level of effort and can be physically demanding. The intense nature of HIIT increases the risk of injury if proper form and technique are not maintained. It is essential to start at an appropriate fitness level and progress gradually to minimize the risk of injury.
Individual Fitness Levels: HIIT may not be suitable for everyone, especially individuals with certain health conditions or physical limitations. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert to determine if HIIT is appropriate for your specific needs and capabilities.
When engaging in HIIT workouts it is essential to listen to your body, start at an appropriate fitness level, and progress gradually. Consulting with or employing a fitness professional who can help you design a HIIT program tailored to your specific goals and fitness level is also a good option.
Using myself as an example. I've had quite a few hamstring, groin, and hip flexor pulls simply from pushing myself too hard, too early while doing HIIT sprints. It is very important to take it slowly at the start of the exercise and then increase the intensity as your body becomes acclimated to the stress.
In my humble opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons and I would definitely recommend HIIT to anyone considering it.