Every HIIT workout consists of three key components, without which it cannot be classified an HIIT workout. These are:
· Warm Up
· Anaerobic Periods
· Recovery Periods
Each of these components plays an important role in HIIT exercises. We shall look at them closely to see why they are important and what role they each play in a typical HIIT routine.
A warm up means preparing your muscles for any upcoming exercise, such as running or exercising. A warm up session should ideally imitate the actual exercise, but at a lower intensity. Warm up sessions are especially important in an HIIT workout because of the high intensity of the workout.
Warm up sessions have various benefits. They basically increase the circulation of oxygen and blood through the body and “warm up” the muscles. This is because cold muscles are more prone to injury as they cannot absorb shock as well as warm muscles. Thus, warm up sessions usually last longer in colder climates.
With an HIIT session, the intensity of the exercises is much higher than with a normal workout routine. As a result, the risk is also increased. In such a situation, a warm up session becomes all the more important to the athlete to prevent serious injury to the body.
Every HIIT routine should be preceded by a good and adequate warm up routine that exercises all the muscles of the body. One must be aware that stretching is not a warm up exercise.
HIIT exercises, unlike normal workouts, incorporate both anaerobic as well as aerobic periods in the session. The periods of high intensity are usually anaerobic exercise sessions. They force the body to work intensively in a short period of time, which causes the anaerobic system to provide the body with energy.
Anaerobic activity also results in the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles, which causes fatigue, pain and a sensation of burning. Performing HIIT increases the lactic threshold, which allows the athlete to use the anaerobic system for longer periods of time.
Most workouts use steady state exercise, which usually keeps them the aerobic zone throughout the workout session. HIIT, on the other hand, incorporates anaerobic exercise as well through its intense work periods. The intensity of these sessions forces the athlete to push his anaerobic threshold and develop it over a period of time. It is these anaerobic sessions that result in the EPOC, which aids in fat burn and weight loss associated with HIIT.
The recovery periods in HIIT routines play an important role as well. The recovery periods are the aerobic part of the HIIT session. These rest intervals allow the body to bring back the heart rate to a state that allows it to indulge in another high intensity session. They also remove the lactic acid formed during the anaerobic session and circulate oxygen throughout the body. Thus, they play an important role in prolonging the workout.
In addition, as they are aerobic intervals, they also aid in the development of the aerobic system of the individual. Thus, HIIT exercises allow the individual to develop the aerobic and the anaerobic systems at the same time.