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Does HIIT actually work?

8th August 2019
Luke Adams

When considering fitness routines you may have heard about HIIT.  But what is HIIT and why is it supposed to be so effective?

HIIT is an acronym for high-intensity interval training. This style of exercise has taken the fitness industry by storm over the past decade. what people love is that a HIIT session can last only 15 minutes. In the past, most fitness professionals believed that long sessions of steady-state cardio were the secret to fat loss and ultimate fitness.

Therefore, you would run or jog for 45 minutes to an hour outside or on the treadmill. The prevailing idea was that more is better. However, after excessive research and testing, scientists discovered that short, intense sessions of training yielded far better results than longer training sessions.

If you stopped to think about it, you’d realise that no animal in the wild runs continuously for an hour. It is always short and extremely fast bursts, followed by rest. The lion that chases its prey explodes into action for less than a minute. If it can’t catch the prey, it stops.

The same applies to any other predator. Humans are the only animal that runs marathons and subjects ourselves to long sessions of cardio and we later wonder why our joints are giving out.

You’re probably wondering, What makes HIIT so effective?

The answer is EPOC. Oh great! Another acronym. EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. What this means is that when you engage in a HIIT session, your body experiences an oxygen deficit.

When you take out a loan from the bank, you have a repayment plan that is going to take you a long time to repay back. In the same vein, when you’re panting and gasping for air while engaged in a HIIT session, your body will be in fat-burning mode for hours after your workout is over. It’s repaying the oxygen deficit.

Here is the key and what most people don’t understand; you don’t actually burn as many calories DURING a HIIT session as you would if you were to run for 45 minutes. For example, if you jogged for 45 minutes, you may burn anywhere from 370 to 450 calories, depending on your weight and age and speed.

The same person who does a HIIT session may burn only 180 calories within the 15 minutes of training. However, since his body is in calorie burning mode for 12 to 16 hours after the workout is over, they can burn far more than 450 calories overall.

This is what makes HIIT so powerful. The fat-burning benefits of jogging and steady-state cardio only last during the workout session and quickly taper off after.

With HIIT, you’re a fat-burning machine round the clock. This is the reason why people who do HIIT see much faster results.

* Increases stamina
HIIT improves your stamina greatly. You’d think that the long cardio sessions would do a better job of this but it’s been proven that they don’t. HIIT sessions force your body into a state of discomfort.
You’re constantly operating at your VO2 max. This will greatly improve your endurance.

* Helps build lean muscle
While HIIT will not make you gain as much muscle as weight training that’s focused on hypertrophy, it does help to build lean muscle because of the full-body workouts. So, you can burn fat and build lean muscle.

* Taps into stubborn fat stores
HIIT will force the body to burn the stubborn belly fat that it loves clinging on to. The body has no choice but to burn fuel because HIIT demands a lot of energy.

To conclude, HIIT is NOT an easy style of training. It is hard, tiring and most people will dread it. That’s the way it is. You’re probably going to be suffering for 8 to 15 minutes, depending on how long the session is.  However, once you’re done, your body will be burning fat for hours after that. You’ll end up losing more fat, start looking leaner and feeling much better.

HIIT is definitely something you should include in your training program.

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