What is a HIIT Workout?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that involves training at a high intensity for a short period before resting and repeating. For example, sprinting on a spin bike for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds and repeating over 10 minutes is a great way to practice HIIT.
At Safari Health Hub, we want to help everyone on their fitness journey and helping people understand the different types of exercise is one way we can help. HIIT workouts have become increasingly popular in recent years as there are numerous benefits of HIIT, which are explained below.
5 Benefits of HIIT
During HIIT, the intention is to raise the heart rate to around 80-95% of the maximum and then maintain that level for the period. During your HIIT workout, you could burn hundreds of calories which is great for weight loss. When you burn more calories than you eat, also called a calorie deficit, you will naturally lose weight as your body will burn fat reserves when it has used up the calories you put in. Having less fat stored in your body can reduce the risk of major health issues such as heart attacks.
Increased muscle mass
A number of studies have shown that HIIT workouts have been effective in building the size of the muscles used during the workout. Looking at the spin bike exercise mentioned before, this will increase the muscle tension in the legs, and as the tension is sustained for a period of time through repetitions, it will force muscle growth. Muscle growth comes when tension on a muscle causes the fibres to break, the body will then use protein to repair the muscle by lengthening the fibres. Longer fibres make the muscles bigger and, therefore, they weigh more. Benefits of increased muscle mass can include a stronger immune system, better joint support and less body fat.
Improved sleep quality
Exercise has been proven to naturally make you more tired as you are burning more energy, but consistent HIIT workouts have been proven to significantly improve sleep quality in adults. You should always leave around 2 hours between exercising and going to sleep because sleeping too early can damage your sleep quality. Key benefits of good sleep quality include better physical and mental health, weight loss and improved memory.
Better insulin control
In 2015, a number of studies looked into the effects of HIIT workouts on blood sugar levels for both people with and without diabetes. One study looked at the effects over a 2-week period and found that they had improved control over their insulin. Another one looked specifically at people with type 2 diabetes, those at risk of type 2 diabetes, and the effects of HIIT workouts over an 8-week period. The results of this showed significantly better insulin control as well as better pancreatic control compared to those who did other workouts. The links to the studies can be found in point 6 of this article. Better insulin control is a great benefit for those who are at risk of diabetes or those who have type 2 diabetes. For those at risk, this can help prevent diabetes and can help manage the symptoms of diabetes for those who have it. In general, it is beneficial to have control over your insulin and blood sugar levels to help prevent certain illnesses.
Improved mental health
Extensive research has shown that exercise releases the chemicals dopamine, serotonin and cortisol, which help us feel better and help reduce stress. Consistently doing HIIT workouts also allows you to change your routine after each session; this will help combat the boredom of repeating the same workout each time. If you aren’t getting bored with your workouts, you’ll enjoy them more and feel more motivated to complete them, helping you reach your goal. Hitting a target or a goal will also help improve your mental health, as you’ll feel more confident in yourself. We offer women-only strength and HIIT classes on Saturdays, which will help you meet new people who may be on a similar journey to you. Socialising is also a good way to improve your mental health.
Doing a HIIT workout has many benefits, both physical and mental. HIIT workouts also have added benefits over normal cardio-focussed workouts, which explains why HIIT is fast becoming one of the most popular cardiovascular workouts. If you want to know more about what we offer and how we can support you, contact us.