Do HIIT workouts live up to the hype?

Current trends in fitness are clearly geared towards High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

It's actually been in gym circles for years, but it's finally becoming a household name due to some sexy and scientific news last month. Is HIIT the real deal? Yes – there's no arguing against it. Should you do it? Well, maybe.

More to HIIT

At your gym, have a gander at the guy on the cross trainer for 45 minutes laughing at the Kardashians, sweating just a drop, and having a great ole time while not exerting much effort – that's the antithesis of HIIT.

HIIT is quick, high intensity bursts of movement followed by rest. HIIT gets your heart rate up, gets you sweating and swearing. HIIT is simple, providing results for a lean, toned, and healthy body.

Yet I understand every training method is not for everybody and every body.

Should you HIIT when...

You want to lose weight?

Yes. Studies show that the caloric burn from an hour on a treadmill is surpassed by HIIT – at a fraction of the time.  The American College of Sports Medicine stated "…HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially after the workout. The post-exercise period is called 'EPOC', which stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This is generally about a 2-hour period after an exercise bout where the body is restoring itself to pre-exercise levels, and thus using more energy." HIIT burns calories, builds muscle, increases metabolism – all equating to weight loss.

You want to look younger?

Yes. And this is the sexy news alluded to above. Last month a study released by The Mayo Clinic found that HIIT might be our fountain of youth – it slows aging at the cellular level. Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, author of the study and a Mayo diabetes researcher said: "These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine."

You want to run in a 10km event?

Yes. From Tough Mudder to long distance runners, all races involve hill running, sprinting, and stop-starting with intensity. A HIIT program with sprints benefits every marathon runner and obstacle competitor.


You want to bulk up?

No. Hypertrophy training is intense, but it's a completely different training method to HIIT. If you want to get huge, programming is more TTUT (total time under tension) with specified sets, repetitions, and rest. HIIT is geared for leaning up, not bulking up.

You want to become a yogi?


My last Tinder date (true story) was a yogi, and during a 20km Sydney Harbour foreshore hike with a champagne on the beach picnic stop, she often mentioned yoga as a strength-stretch-stamina builder. HIIT will also do all of those things. Yoga complements HIIT, and vice versa.

You want to shred, get lean, get ripped?

Yes. When a workout that increases heart rate, utilises numerous muscle groups, and provides results like "calorie burning" and "increased metabolic rate" (while adding the right nutrition), the result is a lean, toned, and shredded body – less Terminator, more Fight Club.

Start on a health and fitness plan?

Yes. Well, maybe.

Whether you do yoga or dive into HIIT, understand your limits. If you're overweight and or over 40 and ready to skyrocket your heart rate during your inaugural HIIT session, think again. Scale it down. If you're coming off injury, then intensity is only going to re-injure.

HIIT might be running sprints for some, yet for a newbie? It could just be increasing the walking speed.

You want to do my favourite HIIT session?

Well, of course. Yes.

Grab a skipping rope, find some space, and turn up the music. Do as many rounds as you can of 150 skips, 15 push ups, 15 squats, 15 sit ups, and five burpees. Rest one minute between rounds over a 20 minute period.

The beauty of HIIT is you can perform a session with little to no equipment, and all it takes is 15-30 minutes of movement to see serious gains in health and fitness.

What really matters

I don't care about your bench press, squat, deadlift, handstand or best "FRAN". I don't care about how hot your yoga was, how many grams of protein you consume daily during your $500 nutritional cleanse, or how many Instagram followers look at your body each day.  

I only care if you can run, possess strength and stamina, and move with intensity – HIIT bolsters each of those variables, and that's why HIIT isn't a trend but more the root of any workout program.

What has been your experience with HIIT? Hit or miss? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his 'Cut The BS' diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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