What Are HIIT Workouts Good For? Myths and Truths
Along with the popularity of high-intensity interval training, the amount of information about this workout method has also grown more and more–so it’s no wonder there are so many myths out there. But in reality, what are HIIT workouts good for? What are they not good for? Let’s break down high-intensity interval training and dive into those tricky little details.
What you need to know about HIIT workouts
Okay, yes–it’s called high-intensity interval training. But exactly how intense are HIIT workouts? Well, HIIT is characterized by alternating work periods with rest periods. During those work periods, you’re ideally exercising at your maximum effort. Regardless of how that looks for each individual, it’s going to feel very intense.
HIIT is a type of anaerobic exercise, which requires more energy than aerobic exercise. Some examples of aerobic exercise are running, cycling, and swimming. Unlike aerobic exercise, which uses oxygen as its primary energy source, anaerobic exercise breaks down glucose for energy. This means it’s a lot more intense and is performed for shorter amounts of time.
Areas it targets
Many people ask themselves: what are HIIT workouts good for? Will they help tone my lower body or upper body? Is my core involved?
Well, HIIT workouts typically involve compound exercises, or exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. This means it’s able to target muscles in your entire body in a single session.
Burpees are the perfect example, and one of the most common HIIT exercises. If you’ve ever done it, you know how hard it is–that’s because it requires using your upper body, lower body, and core.
Another example is a squat with overhead press. Squats target your quads, inner thighs, butt, hamstrings, hip muscles, and even core–add the overhead press and now you’re working your chest, arms, shoulders, and upper back all at the same time!
At our Madison studio, HIIT exercises can vary from workout to workout, but in general, HIIT is an effective way to target your whole body in a short amount of time.
Types of workouts you can do with HIIT
HIIT is a training method, which means it can technically be applied to many different types of exercises. You can even use intervals during your running workout to improve performance and endurance.
High-intensity interval training is commonly used as an alternative to steady-state cardio, which is performed continuously and for longer periods. However, it can also be used to maintain and build muscle, both with or without weights.
Compound exercises are a great way to integrate weights to your HIIT workout, and you can also alternate strength exercises with cardio exercises to get a complete routine that works both your endurance and resistance.
HIIT exercise equipment
First things first: HIIT workouts can be very effective using just your bodyweight. Exercises like squats, planks, lunges, push ups, and all of their variations can get your heart rate way up and still help build strength without any weights.
Now, you can also include many different pieces of equipment that will take your workout to the next level, such as dumbbells, kettlebells, jump rope, medicine balls, resistance bands, etc.
At our Sweat440 studio in Alabama, we use many different types of gym gear to make our classes as dynamic, fun, and effective as possible. Looking for a HIIT class near me? Our studio is conveniently located on County Line Road, about a mile south of Palmer Road and in front of Frida’s Cantina & Grill and the 820 Palmer Rd, Madison, AL 35758 County Line Chevron gas station. Come visit us and start sweating!
What Are HIIT Workouts Good For?
Okay, it’s time to bust some fitness myths. While high-intensity interval training has many benefits, it can’t do EVERYTHING. Plus, like with any type of exercise, it needs to be complemented with other healthy habits for you to actually see results.
What HIIT DOES do
- It saves you time: A HIIT session can last from 15 minutes up to an hour, but not more than that. It shouldn’t be performed for long periods of time because of how intense it is–however, it’s proven to burn more calories and fat in less time than continuous exercise.
- It burns calories and fat quicker: HIIT spikes your heart rate a lot more than steady-state exercise and uses more muscles, which means you get a higher metabolic burn in less time. Additionally, several studies have compared the calorie burn of HIIT workouts with other types of exercise, and found that HIIT can burn significantly more calories in the same amount of time.
- It helps with weight loss: During HIIT, your body uses fat instead of carbs as energy–this makes it easier to lose fat. Combined with the right diet, HIIT can be highly effective for weight loss.
- It boosts metabolism: HIIT produces the EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect, which makes your body work to compensate the oxygen deficit it experiences after intense exercise. During the EPOC effect, you’re still consuming oxygen at a high rate, which requires energy and therefore keeps burning more calories for about 1 to 2 hours after you’re done exercising.
- It improves heart health: Anaerobic workouts, such as HIIT, help strengthen your heart and reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels without needing to train for extensive periods.
What HIIT DOESN’T do
- It doesn’t bulk you up: HIIT workouts can help you maintain lean muscle, but no, they won’t bulk you up. Instead, they help you torch fat, improve cardiovascular endurance, and boost your metabolism.
- It doesn’t require a high fitness level: While it is a high intensity workout, HIIT can perfectly be adapted for beginners. It’s important to increase the level gradually and with the help of a professional to avoid injury. If you’re a beginner and are looking for an affordable gym, try your first class for free at Sweat 440 and fall in love with HIIT!
- It doesn’t require long sessions: On the contrary–it shouldn’t be performed for long periods of time. The body can only maintain the intensity it requires for a certain amount of time. Usually, 30 to 40 minutes is a pretty sweet spot!
- It doesn’t need tons of equipment: The great thing about HIIT is it’s extremely versatile, so you can do it with or without equipment–it all depends on your preference or the class you’re attending. At Sweat440, we make our classes dynamic and fun using different types of equipment.
- It doesn’t make you lose weight on its own: Although HIIT has been proven to be a lot more efficient for fat burn and weight loss than other types of exercise, there are other things that play a role in losing weight. Habits such as diet and sleep, for instance, are also key.
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Myths and truths of HIIT
- HIIT will bulk you up.
- HIIT can only be performed by people with an advanced fitness level.
- The longer the HIIT workout, the better.
- HIIT requires many types of equipment in order to be effective.
- HIIT is the only thing you need to lose weight.
- HIIT helps maintain lean muscle, burn fat, boost your metabolism, and improve cardiovascular endurance and overall heart health.
- HIIT can be adapted to different fitness levels and workout styles.
- HIIT is best performed for shorter periods in order to maintain the highest intensity possible.
- HIIT can be performed with or without equipment.
- Combined with a healthy diet, sleep hygiene, and other healthy habits, HIIT can be a great workout for weight loss.