High Intensity Interval Training- The New Hit Sport?

Today, no one has time anymore for time for long training routines, which is why high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is perfect for our busy lifestyles. In only a few minutes a week, we can stay fit. What is HIIT really like?

HIIT is a quick solution for those who have little time and therefore don't get a proper amount of exercise. High intensity interval training or HIIT improves cardio fitness, the metabolism, stamina and health, in just a few minutes per week. Are these claims real or just empty advertising? Here is a closer look. 

What is HIIT?

The name says it all: HIIT training involves short, intense workouts. The high-intensity phases are repeatedly interrupted by short recovery periods of low intensity. The training is constructed in intervals.

How is HIIT different from normal endurance training?

The main difference between these two types of training can be described as follows: high intensity vs. high extent. These are two completely different systems. Classic endurance training involves high-volume training (HVT), HIIT, however, involves high-intensity training. During HIIT demands are placed on maximum oxygen uptake (anaerobic training), so you sustainably adjust to the training, and HVT increases moderate intensity over time (aerobic exercise).

HIIT - a new concept?

High-intensity interval training is not new. The basic principle is even older than that of classic endurance training. In the 1930s, a kind of HIIT training for short- and medium-distance running was developed. Interval training today is based on a routine developed by a Swedish Athletics Coach.

The legendary Czech runner Emil Zatopek vowed by HIIT training, and owed his success to die-hard interval training.

What is the attraction of HIIT?

Short interval training is attractive primarily due to how quickly it is effective, and also because it is highly efficient. In approximately 10% of the time, you can achieve the same effects as HVT Training. Beside that, the fun factor plays a role.

What do scientific studies say?

There are now almost an unmanageable mass of studies for HIIT training. The problem is that these cannot really be compared with each other because they are  all so different. 

Nevertheless a few results can be discussed with confidence. The increase in output through HIIT was similar in almost all studies. HIIT is good for endurance, and some studies suggest that it is even more effective than HVT. The high mechanical and metabolic stress during workouts partially produces even stronger performance-enhancing reactions.

Nevertheless, many questions remain unanswered: No one knows how to achieve the ultimate results. Are a few, long HIIT units better , or should you keep the HIIT training short? In addition, the people in the studies were usually healthy, already physically active people. Whether HIIT is also suitable for other target groups is unclear.

One thing is certain according to current knowledge, is that HIIT is a perfect complement to classic endurance training, but no complete replacement. Try integrating HIIT training as one of several units in your weekly training schedule.

Note: To use this training concept, you should be healthy and physically fit. Talk to your doctor before starting a HIIT routine to avoid getting hurt.