Many go to the gym or do some form of exercise without locking in on specific strategies or understanding their particular choice of physical activity and whether it is capable of checking all the boxes when it comes to personalized needs. Add in limited time to exercise for those slammed by career, relationship, or other life constraints, and working out can easily become a dreaded or often avoided chore.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) might be a good consideration when it comes to gaining results you may not have expected and in a shorter amount of time. It is exactly as it is described in the title, high-intensity exercise performed in an interval protocol. This workout choice has helped people incorporate a good movement program into a life they thought could never fit any kind of fitness activity, while actually enjoying it at the same time.
Explore if HIIT is right for you and how AFT Coaching might be able to help you with developing a strategy, maintaining consistency, providing advice, and learning proper form and safety that may be more of a challenge to cover on your own.
Focused Bursts, Focused Cool Down, Focused Time
The body is equipped to pounce at any second. Like an animal that is hunting or being hunted the “fight or flight” response, known technically as the sympathetic system, is always at the ready. However, jumping into action, even if one is in good shape, can be difficult to achieve. That is unless you practice high-intensity interval training.
HIIT is described as performing an exercise in short, rapid bursts followed by a low-intensity recovery period. Some people feel it is an excellent addition to a busy schedule which can be implemented into a lunch break at work, during a baby’s nap, or at any other time a conventional workout might have been impossible in the past. One example might be an all-out running sprint for ten to thirty seconds and then a good-paced walk for the same time period. This is repeated for a duration and then another exercise may follow.
A combined study of the effects of HIIT, including time commitment implementation, was conducted by researchers from Turkey, China, and Australia, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which stated that “It is well-documented that regular exercise is essential for a healthy life, but insufficient time to exercise seems to be one of the most cited barriers to exercise adherence. Considerable evidence has shown that interval training models [HIIT] can provide similar health and performance benefits to MICT [moderate-intensity continuous training], despite less time commitment” (1).
HIIT exercise usually includes bodyweight actions such as:
Sit ups (crunches)
These are a small example of the many HIIT exercises that can easily be added to a busy schedule or weight training protocol. Working with an AFT coaching professional can help you find the perfect HIIT workout that matches your individual needs. Executing the proper form, breathing, and cooling down is what AFT coaches are trained to incorporate into any prospective client’s lifestyle. This is not only done through professional execution but with positive reinforcement, inspirational affirmations, and self-esteem building.
Supplement Strength, Increase Stamina
If you are already following a strength training program but want to add an endurance and stamina-building protocol, HIIT can get you there. It is an excellent addition that surpasses moderate exercise and can really take your workout up a few notches.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis titled, ‘The impact of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on vascular function’, by researchers from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia, it was concluded that “HIIT is more effective at improving brachial artery vascular function than MICT [moderate-intensity continuous training], perhaps due to its tendency to positively influence CRF [cardiorespiratory fitness], traditional CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk factors, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin sensitivity” (2).
Although more research is suggested, to experience stamina improving results this analysis recommends, “4 × 4 HIIT, three times per week for at least 12 weeks”.
Following a detailed protocol navigated by the AFT virtual or in-person coaches that implements the pillars of fitness could catapult your HIIT progress to the next level. It is a jump start you can add to a weight training workout and/or a packed schedule you didn’t think was able to handle cardio at all.
Benefits of HIIT to Improve Cardiovascular Exercise
If you love running, cycling, swimming, or any other cardiovascular bodyweight exercise these benefits of HIIT will fit right into your wheelhouse. Even if it isn’t your top choice of physical activity, there are many advantages HIIT can offer that just may surprise you.
Weight loss - One of the major reasons so many people put continued effort into an exercise program is to lose weight. HIIT burns calories and fat at an unprecedented rate through increased metabolism and improved oxygen consumption. Research from the School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. concluded that “Twelve weeks of HIIE [high-intensity intermittent exercise] resulted in significant reductions in total, abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat and significant increases in fat free mass and aerobic power” (3).
Increased Muscle Mass - Short bursts of exercise could increase muscle fiber size in some people. Known as ‘skeletal muscle oxidative capacity,’ HIIT has shown to support muscle size for trunk and leg exercises as well as for people who are less active. In a review of HIIT promoting skeletal muscle by researchers from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University and Department of Health and Medical Sciences, Melbourne, Australia, it was stated that “Studies that have determined muscle growth responses after HIIT, with a focus on molecular responses, that provide a rationale for HIIT to be implemented among populations who are susceptible to muscle loss (e.g. middle-aged or older adults) and/or in clinical settings (e.g. pre- or post-surgery)” (4).
Lowers Heart Rate and Blood Pressure - A racing heart and high blood pressure are dangerous symptoms that could indicate the potential for more serious conditions. HIIT could help as it has been linked to a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure (BP), particularly in overweight and obese people. Another study out of Australia by researchers from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, found that “The BP-lowering effects of exercise training are more prominent in those with higher baseline BP, with stronger correlation in HIIT than MICT” (5).
The benefits of HIIT continue to be proven in study after study showing an overall positive response across the health spectrum. When performed per individual capability, HIIT is an excellent addition to a busy life or weight training workout program.
AFT Coaching can help you incorporate HIIT into any schedule. Our highly trained professionals are knowledgeable in the precision of anatomy and physiology that so many others seem to be lacking. By tracking your progress, supporting your commitment, and offering constructive criticism, working with an AFT coach could be just the boost you need that springboards you to results you probably thought you’d never achieve.
Our parent company, AF Training Solutions, was founded in 2008. Since then, we’ve grown into one of the largest personal training and coaching organizations in the country. Currently, we operate the fitness departments for about 100 health clubs across the United States. As an organization, we have always had two main areas of focus; the customer experience and company culture. Over the years, we have invested heavily in people, process, and technology to ensure that our customer experience is second to none.