How effective is HIIT

HIIT: Definition, Exercises & Effect

What is HIIT?

HIIT means high-intensity interval training in English High-intensity interval training. There is a simple idea behind HIIT: Training is more effective if it does not always take place in the same medium load range, but alternates between vigorous exertion and recovery. HIIT is also known as polarized training: the intervals range between two extremes - the poles “hard” and “calm”.

The “hard poles” can consist of sprints when running, cycling or swimming, for example. But lifting heavy weights or training with your own body weight with burpees (push-up jumps), jumping jacks or lunges are suitable HIIT exercises that challenge the body.

The "calm poles" are accordingly walking, slow cycling or calm swimming, or a break.

The combination of “giving everything” and relaxation is intended to initiate adaptation processes in the body that increase endurance and performance.

HIIT - this is how training works

You can individually adjust the length and number of repetitions of the intervals for high-intensity interval training. The single ones Stress phases are comparatively short and range between 15 and 60 seconds.

The following Phase with light exercise intensity or the one Break are either the same length or up to four times longer as the unit of load. In any case, you should recover until you dare to work again.

In order to avoid injuries, it is important that you perform the movements with HIIT in a technically clean manner, even when you are exerting yourself. In addition, interval training is only really effective if you actually go to your limits in the stress phases. Working out can require a load of around 90 percent of the maximum heart rate (HRmax). HRmax describes the individual number of heartbeats per minute during maximum physical exertion.

Experienced athletes can cope with a higher intensive part of their training than beginners. In fact, experienced even ten to 15 percent of the training should take place in the intensive area in order to increase performance. However, experts recommend combining polarized endurance training with classic endurance training in order to also train general resilience.

HIIT workout: training plans

The duration, length and frequency of exercise depend on the basic fitness level of the athlete, the type of sport in which the training is to be performed and the desired goals. The following training plans are therefore only to be understood as examples and suggestions.

Talk to an experienced trainer and let them create a tailored plan for you to avoid frustration and, in the worst case, injury.

HIIT cardio training on the bike

In a study by McMaster University in Ontario, the scientists let their test subjects pedal according to the following training plan:

  • four to five sprints of 30 seconds each,
  • a four to five minute break in between
  • 40 to 60 minutes, three days a week

HIIT training: running

The specialist magazine Runner’s World suggests the following variant of HIIT for jogging fans:

  • Give ten to 60 seconds (almost) full throttle
  • followed by a break with the same to four times the time of the stress phase
  • A total of six to ten repetitions.

For beginners, for example, intervals of six 40 to 80 meter sprints and two to three minutes of walking or trotting would be possible on the track.

HIIT training for swimmers

Swimming trainer Holger Lüning has developed a HIIT work-out for water rats. It includes:

  • four rounds with four 25 meter sprints each
  • followed by a 10 second break
  • plus a series break of four minutes after each set of four

HIIT - that's what it takes

High-intensity interval training has the same effect as normal cardiovascular training: it strengthens the performance of the lungs and heart, builds muscles and thus strength, burns fat, boosts the metabolism and protects against various diseases. The difference: With HIIT, the effects come on faster.

Increased performance through HIIT

Interval training stimulates the formation of mitochondria, the power plants of cells. This enables the body to make better use of oxygen - and this increases the fitness of the heart and circulation. According to studies, HIIT is a real training miracle. Research shows that just 15 to 20 minutes of HIIT training is enough to increase general endurance performance to the same extent as a one-hour cardio unit. So the quality of the training is improved instead of lengthening the training.

Building muscle through HIIT

Due to the heavy load, the muscle fibers are extremely stressed, the body prepares for another such load. He secretes growth hormones that promote muscle growth during breaks.

Fat Loss: HIIT & Calorie Consumption

With HIIT, fat pads melt particularly quickly. You can burn around 300 calories in 30 minutes with high-intensity interval training. In addition, there is the so-called afterburn effect: the metabolism runs at full speed for a long time after training. Weight loss can therefore be well supported with HIIT.

HIIT protects against illness

In addition, HIIT has a positive effect on various health parameters and is therefore suitable for the prevention or improvement of various diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It

  • lowers high cholesterol levels,
  • reduces high blood pressure,
  • lowers fasting blood sugar,
  • reduces body fat mass.

Who is HIIT for?

In principle, anyone who does sports can improve their performance with HIIT. But the training is demanding. In some cases, it can do more harm than good. To be on the safe side, consult a sports doctor before starting HIIT.

HIIT is unsuitable for the following groups of people:

Untrained the body should first get used to the loads with gentle sports. Otherwise there is a risk of overloading the tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones as well as the heart and circulation.

Very overweight people should first lose weight in order to protect the circulation and joints.

People with previous illnesses, especially cardiovascular diseases, less strenuous exercise is usually safer. Even with acute infections, HIIT can cause permanent heart damage. Talk to your doctor!

HIIT & pregnancy

During pregnancy, the training stimulus for HIIT should not come close to full stress. Anyone who has been athletic before and has trained high intensities can continue HIIT after consulting the gynecologist with adapted intensities and pulse ranges.

However, many pregnant women feel too tired at the beginning of the pregnancy, later the growing belly hinders the training. In any case, listen to your body even more closely than usual during training!

HIIT - the equipment

You can do many HIIT workouts at home. All you need is some space, suitable sportswear and a fitness mat as a base.

When swimming HIIT, you should wear tight-fitting swimwear, a swim cap and goggles. For country sports, body-hugging functional clothing is recommended.

These effectively divert the condensation away from the body instead of sucking it up, as for example pure (tree) wool does. Nor does it slow down in the intense phases and it does not easily get caught in dumbbells and other training equipment.

Suitable, sturdy shoes with non-slip soles are also recommended for the respective sport. You also need a clock with a timer function. It can be a sports watch or a smartphone. For the latter, there are now various interval apps for HIIT workouts.

HIIT - Mistakes To Avoid

HIIT is a demanding workout. You should observe the following rules so that you do not overwhelm your body:

  • Do not exaggerate: Adhere to the recommended rest phases in order not to overload the body.
  • Do not train one-sided: Sports scientists advocate combining different training methods. Intensive forms of training should not make up more than 20 percent of the training.
  • Never start cold: Warm up before doing HIIT. It should definitely be at least ten minutes of easy trotting or warm-up exercises (squats, etc.). Otherwise, there is a risk of strains or other injuries
  • Skip training days: After every workout, you should take a break for at least one or two days. The body only builds up its performance reserves during the training break. Without recovery times, there is no training effect in HIIT.

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