High intensity interval training, HIIT for short, is a tool that you must add to your workout arsenal if your goal is to build muscle up quickly. But there are other, complementary benefits to incorporating HIIT into your weekly schedule. In this article, we're going to discuss what HIIT is, how it works, and how much it can do for you.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is interval training, plain and simple. A typical HIIT workout consists of short periods of maximum-intensity effort, followed recovery periods of moderate-intensity effort.
HIIT workouts are generally very short, usually lasting 12 to 16 minutes, depending on the difficulty of the workout. An example of an untimed HIIT session for a runner might include an all out 400-meter sprint, followed by a 400-meter jog, repeated for a total of 4 sets.
It sounds easy, but in practice, it really pushes your body, increases your anaerobic threshold, and helps you build muscle up.
So HIIT is a form of aerobic exercise?
No, it's just the opposite. In typical aerobic exercise (cardio), the goal is to maintain a steady heart rate and a steady level of intensity over an extended period of time. The aerobic threshold is generally considered to be around 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
During long aerobic workouts, your body will enter a catabolic state, where it actually feeds off of its muscles for energy. Obviously, for someone who goal is to build muscle up, entering this catabolic state is not desirable.
HIIT, on the other hand, moves into anaerobic territory. This is when your body can not consume enough oxygen quickly enough to fuel the muscles, so the body is forced to tap into its glycogen stores for energy.
What do I get out of HIIT?
Those engaging in HIIT sessions are known to reach higher levels of fitness faster, build their immune systems stronger, build muscle up and burn fat. HIIT sessions are known to be more effective at burning fat than long aerobic workouts, while at the same time sparing muscle.
HIIT sessions also improve your body's oxygen-processing system by adding new capillaries and building a stronger heart and lungs. Your body will also build a higher tolerance to the buildup of lactic acid, which will help you remain at higher output levels for longer periods of time.
Who should not attempt a HIIT workout?
HIIT training is intense, as its name states. HIIT is not for those who are out of shape, over age 60 or have any forms of joint problems. In all cases, consult your doctor to determine if your body is ready for the demands of a HIIT session.
HIIT sessions are hard work, but their benefits can not be denied. While they should not completely replace your cardio workouts, they should be added to your weekly schedule, especially if your goals include building muscle quickly or burning fat.
Be safe and good luck!