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Is HIIT Really Just a Cheat?

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We are constantly inundated with ridiculous claims from ridiculous companies about how to get fit/skinny/sexy fast. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is…..but is that true for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?


What is HIIT?


Intense bursts of anaerobic activity (usually at a very fast pace using numerous global muscles) followed by fixed periods of less-intense activity (eg walking). The time spent on each activity is set and usually works at a ratio of 2:1 active to rest but can vary.

*Example: 30s Burpees + 30s Jumping Jacks + 30s Sprint = 1min 30s active. 45s walk. Repeat 4x.

These short sets of explosive exercise are repeated only a small number of times meaning very short sessions and lots of time saved! A 10 minute HIIT session would potentially replace a 60 minute jog. Surely that’s too good to be true!?




Does It Work?


Numerous studies suggest yes! HIIT can be just as effective, if not more, in improving athletic performance as a long aerobic session. The main benefits are improved cardiovascular performance, lung capacity and heart health, and increased fat loss!


So, Why Is It So Good?


  • It saves you time: Gibala et al found that 2.5 hrs of sprint HIIT training produced similar muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training and similar endurance benefits. Bingo J
  • It keeps burning calories up to 24 hours after exercise: King found HIIT increased Resting Metabolic Rate for up to 24 hours post workout.
  • HIIT eats into fat reserves:  Shown to burn more fat than a lengthy aerobic workout.
  • It doesn’t reduce muscle mass: HIIT uses fuel stored as fat in the body, giving muscles a wide berth.
  • Reduces Diabetes risk: Studies suggest this is due to its effect on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.
  • Slows aging process: Stimulates the production of Human Growth Hormone by upto 450%.
  • Its fun: It really challenges your stamina and pushes your willpower.


Note; Although you should feel that your fitness levels improve quickly, HIIT should never really get easier. In your ‘high intensity’ sets you need to push yourself to around 90% of max heart rate. This will feel like you physically can’t carry on (or in me I want to be sick).

So work hard, but for less time, and win!


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