Why should you try HIIT, you might ask? First of all, what even is HIIT? High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been around for few years and proved to be extremely popular for a number of reasons. HIIT workouts are preferred by people who can’t justify spending hours on end in the gym but would like to reap the benefits of exercising nevertheless.
Although an average HIIT exercise lasts under 30 minutes, research shown that following a HIIT workout routine can reduce fat mass significantly in people. HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of very high intensity exercises – these bring the heart rate up to 90% of your max heart rate – followed by slightly longer ‘rest’ periods when your heart rate is brought down to 60-70%.
Talking about heart rates: probably the best way to keep track of your heart rate levels during HIIT workouts is to wear a fitness smartwatch, often just called a running watch, a wearable that often provides real-time heart rate tracking feature. By monitoring your heart rate (and other body metrics), you’ll get a better understanding of the impact of your workout sessions on your cardio-system. Not to mention, it is also super motivating to see how many calories you burned.
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5 reasons why should you try HIIT workouts
HIIT workouts are fast, but it doesn’t mean you should skip warm up. Although you don’t want to max out your heart rate warming up, you also don’t want to go into a high intensity training cold turkey either. Do some lunges or a couple of minutes of jump ropes to get your heart – and muscles – ready for the workout.
After the workout, you’ll need to do two things: have some protein and stretch your muscles. The most convenient way to sort out the former is to have a protein shake, a mix of protein powder and water or milk/milk substitute. You can also opt in to have a protein bar instead.
As for stretching, get a foam roller or another massage tool, they are fairly inexpensive but work great nevertheless.
Also, during and after your HIIT workouts, drink some water to replace the water that left your body through sweating. You can consider getting a reusable water bottle too, because we don’t want to further pollute the environment with single use plastics.
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1. HIIT torches fat for longer
If you want to burn fat quicker and haven’t got the time to go for runs or spend ages on cross trainers, HIIT is the answer for. This type of workout has proven to burn fat efficiently, even visceral fat, the one that surrounds organs and therefore can have very serious negative effect on your long term health.
Even better, doing HIIT exercises will burn fat even after you finished exercising. Some research has shown that your body will stay in fat burning mode for up to 24 hours after the workout.
2. HIIT will boost your metabolism
An improved rate of metabolism can help you in a lot of ways. Not only it is less likely for you to gain weight if your metabolism is working correctly, but a healthy metabolic system can rid toxins from your body more efficiently and also, as mentioned above, burn calories even after you finished with your HIIT session.
In some studies, HIIT has been shown to force your body to use energy from fat as opposed to carbs, helping losing fat even more efficiently. Basically, doing a HIIT workout kick starts your body’s metabolism to a level that the fat burning effects last hours after the session have finished.
In essence, you can torch fat for hours with just a few minutes of exercising a day, using HIIT.
3. HIIT is time efficient
HIIT workouts are quick. Some, like the Tabata regimen, only last for 4-5 minutes at a a time. Even the longer sessions tend to last no longer than half an hour, which makes HIIT the perfect workout for busy people.
For the same reason, HIIT workouts work well with other types of workouts. In some cases, people who did HIIT workout gained muscle mass, mainly on their legs. Combining resistance training with HIIT sessions can build muscle mass and burn fat quicker than just doing either.
4. HIIT can improve cardiovascular heart health and oxygen consumption
In case the above benefits were not enough to convince you, here is another no-brainier: HIIT can significantly improve your muscles’ oxygen consumption in a matter of weeks. Most usually, you would have to do long sessions of cycling or running at moderate intensity to improve VO2 max levels over time, but with HIIT, you only have to do 20 sessions, four-five times a week to significantly increase muscle oxygen consumption in five to six weeks.
Also, especially obese and overweight people, doing HIIT workouts regularly can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, too. It has also been shown that a HIIT workout routine can reduce blood sugar levels as well.
Important: If you have issues with obesity, please consult a medical professional before you start your new HIIT regime. What works for most might not work for you personally and it’s always better be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to health related issues.
5. You can do HIIT anywhere, anytime
Probably the best thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t require much – or any – equipment at all. Also, it can be adopted to many different disciplines: if you have a treadmill or an indoor exercise bike already, you can have a HIIT session in either of those.
But in general, doing burpees, jumping jacks or mountain climbers don’t require any equipment. You can do them in your living room, in a hotel room or on the street at anytime.
The best HIIT gear
You might not need a lot of fitness equipment to start doing HIIT, but getting the right clothing, shoes and wearables, can significantly improve your comfort levels during your workouts.
HIIT workouts involve a lot of jumping around in most cases, so close fitting clothing is advised, like leggings and tights, as well as sports vests and sports bras.
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Best HIIT gear – Nike Air Zoom SuperRep
Using Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot not only makes the shoes look dynamic, but it also helps provide impact protection and a responsiveness. Although the quite noticeable ‘burpee break’ in the middle initially seems like a major concern when it comes to how these shoes will roll, we can confirm the arch provides just the right amount of ‘give’ while distributing your weight from the heel to the ball of your foot.
Separating the two actually provides the shoe with a greater degree of flexibility than normal, thicker-soled conditioning shoes, which was a pleasant surprise. The top of the shoe is comprised of ribbed, breathable mesh, which will be familiar to fans of Nike’s existing cross-training shoes. It’s light, flexible and (crucially) allows air to flow in and out of the shoe, avoiding post-workout stinky feet syndrome.
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Best HIIT gear – BodyPower Slam Ball
You won’t use a slam ball in your living room for sure. Slam balls are noisy and there’s no way to avoid looking a bit touched whilst using them but they are also versatile and work a huge array of muscle groups, giving an excellent all-round workout.
Performing HIIT with a slam ball requires some dedication and it’s important to focus on good form to avoid any strains or injuries. It’s worth it, though, as repeatedly mashing a heavy ball into the ground gets the blood pumping and feels awesome.
Best HIIT gear – Beats by Dr Dre Powerbeats Pro
You can’t beat these Beats. They share a name and, superficially, an appearance with previous Powerbeats buds but these true wireless powerhouses absolutely crush their predecessors when it comes to quality of sound and security of fit.
For sheer sound quality and the way they are all but impossible to accidentally dislodge from your ears, Powerbeats Pro are the gold standard of wireless buds for gym and running.
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Best HIIT gear – Fitbit Versa 2
You get all the great features that made the Fitbit Versa – and Fitbit Versa Lite – popular plus additional features, like the built-in Alexa voice assistant, with the Fitbit Versa 2.
It is waterproof and has integrated heart rate sensors that measures the heart rate on the wrist, no need to buy a separate chest strap. It also comes with a GPS chip, not like you will need to track the course or your HIIT workouts, but considering that you will probably use the Fitbit Versa 2 for other things than just tracking your HIIT workouts, it might come useful.
The screen is great, so is the fit of the Fitbit Versa 2. And all for a very reasonable price, too.
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