No Time For Exercise? 10 Reasons You Should A Try HIIT Workout
Most of us know that to become healthier, we need to exercise. Yet this is one activity that is left out when time is tight. Every day we make great efforts at juggling demands from work, family, social obligations, and being stuck in traffic. All of this leaves little time to devote to exercise. Sometimes exercise gets left behind because our schedules are just that packed. Other times we don’t have the motivation to go out on an hour long run. High intensity interval training, or HIIT Workout, is a great way to fit in a rigorous workout in a short time span and make it fun to boot! It can deliver as good or better fitness benefits than steady state cardio (SSC), such as running, but in less time per day and week. A HIIT workout is the best fitness value for your time.
10 Reasons You Should Use HIIT Workout, Especially When You’re Pressed For Time:
- It’s time efficient – HIIT provides fitness benefits similar to or better than SSC, but at a small fraction of the time. 20 mins of a HIIT workout provides the same cardiovascular benefits that running for an hour does. If your day is really busy, a full Tabata workout session is 4 minutes short. The Tabata, which is the most popular HIIT program, consists of 8 rounds of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest intervals. This is one session. If you have more time, you can piece together up to 4 sessions in one workout with a minute rest between sessions – that’s only 20 minutes compared to an hour pounding the pavement.
- Fun – Variety is the spice of life. SSC doesn’t lend itself to variety very well. It’s miles of running, endless laps in the pool, or hours of the same exercise. With HIIT you can work out different portions of your body in a single workout, using different movements or exercises, and if you have access to them, different pieces of equipment. Because of the variety of exercises associated with HIIT, many people choose to exercise than put it off unlike SSC. I don’t know about you, but I find running tedious and boring.
- Improves cardiovascular health – HIIT can be more advantageous over SSC in improving your cardiorespiratory function. Aerobic fitness, as measured by VO2 max, can be improved more efficiently with HIIT than with SSC. As aerobic fitness improves, the body becomes more capable of using oxygen as fuel. Better VO2 max scores are associated with reduction of cardiovascular disease risks such as heart attacks.
- Burns fat – While getting your beach body on is important (who doesn’t want to look good at the beach or pool?), fat loss is important in improving your health. Not only is excess abdominal fat unattractive, it also is associated with cardiovascular disease. HIIT can take as little as 1 hour a week to burn as much fat as 7 hours per week of SSC. Closely tied to fat loss, you cholesterol levels can improve – increase HDL (the good cholesterol), and decrease LDL (the bad cholesterol) and triglycerides .
- Builds muscle – Losing fat is just one part of looking good on the beach. Gaining muscle is just as important since it is what truly sculpts your body. Don’t worry – it won’t build the big freaky muscles of bodybuilders. HIIT can build lean muscle SSC reduces muscle mass, while HIIT builds and maintains muscle. The reason why HIIT is effective in growing muscles is it stimulates growth hormone up to 10 times higher than SSC.
- Improves stamina – Regular doses of HIIT increases your physical energy. There are two important factors in improving stamina – the work phase and the recovery phase. This applies within the workout itself as well as after the workout. Your body will adapt to the stresses you put on it so long as you provide it proper nutrition and sleep to recover.
- Starting fitness – Even if you’ve never followed a regular fitness schedule in your life, HIIT can be a program that you can start your fitness journey on. An Australian study found that high risk populations benefit greatly from HIIT over SSC for 2 reasons – 1) improved heart health, lung capacity, oxygen absorption, cholesterol levels; 2) the patients were more interested with HIIT because of the short duration and high variety of exercises.
- Breakthrough performance – Even endurance athletes have incorporated HIIT into their training programs as they have found it improves their contest performance. Competitive endurance athletes use HIIT to provide them with the bursts of speed to overtake their competitors at certain points of the race, particularly near the finish line. HIIT also decreases the amount of time they have to spend on the road, track, bike, or pool which reduces the likelihood of repetitive stress injuries yet improving their performance potential. So no, I haven’t been bashing endurance athletes. If this is your passion, don’t give it up (and I’m sure you won’t just because of my rant here). Just add HIIT to your training and watch your performance improve!
- Mental strength – Because you’re putting out near or at 100% effort during the work phase, there will come a round that your body will be screaming at you to stop. You will notice your tempo slowing down, or that you will need to use assists (such as rubber bands), or need to decrease the weight you’re using. All this is inevitable, but don’t stop. It is when the workout gets difficult that your mental strength is tested. You must understand your body well enough to know if you’re heading into fatigue or into an injury. If you feel an injury may be coming on, by all means stop what you’re doing. If you think you need to visit your doctor, do so. Live to train another day.
- Format flexibility – The beauty of HIIT is you can use just your bodyweight, equipment, or a combination of bodyweight and equipment in your workout. The variety of exercises you can piece together in a single workout is tremendous, limited only by your imagination. This variety leads to a lot of fun in the workouts as it prevents getting in a rut.
You can even work around an injury with HIIT. For example, when I injured my calf, I couldn’t use sprints or jumping in my HIIT workouts until it healed, so I used squats, battle ropes, and other exercises that didn’t use my calf. I still got a kick butt workout. That said, you need to use your best judgement in seeking medical advice to understand the scope and severity of the injury before you attempt to use this workaround tactic.
Now you know the benefits of HIIT, how do you get going? When I first read about HIIT, I could see the benefits to doing it, but it didn’t seem as simple to setup as going out for a run. Fortunately, setting up your HIIT session is nearly that simple. Just like going out for a run, setting up your HIIT session consists of 4 steps which are – a) figure out what exercises you’re going to do, b) put on your workout clothes and shoes (shoes can be optional), c) grab your smartphone, then d) get exercising.
Here are some session exercise ideas using the Tabata method:
- Pull ups for one round, push ups the next round, followed by air squats, then burpees. Do this circuit twice for a total of 8 rounds.
- Forward and backward bear crawls, jump rope or jumping jacks, shadow box, lunges. Do each exercise for 2 rounds.
- Kettlebell swings, push ups. Do each exercise for 4 rounds.
- Battle rope slams, battle rope alternating waves, battle rope jumping jacks, battle rope burpees. Do each exercise for 4 rounds.
You’ll also need a timer, preferably a HIIT timer. You can search for one in iTunes or Google Play. A good HIIT timer has the capability to allow you to program at least 8 rounds of work and rest intervals as well as have a loud alarm. Trust me when I say that you will want the alarm very loud when you get into your 3rd round. I installed the Tabata Stopwatch Pro app on my Android phone which I’ve used for the past 2 years. There are a lot of features in this app, but I only use the interval timer, rounds counter, and the type of alarm sound.
Enough reading. Get your butt off the chair and do something good for yourself. You now know everything you need to know to get in a quick workout. Get your sweat on with HIIT!