Opinion: Vijay Thakkar
All about high-intensity interval training
Friday, June 15, 2018

After dealing with chaotic schedules & long days at work, an hour of mundane cardio workout can seem dull & slothful. Don’t we all crave a customized gritty workout module or effective training style? If you are looking out for any such desired workout schedule, your search must stop at High-Intensity Interval Training. Oh yes! Does HIIT ring a bell? After the introduction of it around 4 years ago, the zeal to be pushed in an anaerobic zone came to an end. If you are already a fan of HIIT, you probably know it as a super-fast, very effective way to work out.

HIIT certainly takes the cake while counting the fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, and heart-pounding benefits. It has been proven in various studies that a more challenging, intense exercise regimen has considerably better effects than those who simply perform routine exercises. So why not give this training style a try? 

High-intensity interval training, as its name suggests, is a very intense workout and makes use of intervals. It works on a simple concept- go at your body’s maximum possible effort for a short period of time followed by a recovery period and repeat. It has gained popularity for being an effective and efficient training modality for many populations.

It involves short bouts of high-intensity exercise interspersed with brief periods of low-intensity exercise or rest. Even 15 minutes of a high-intensity interval training burns more calories than jogging on a treadmill for an hour! During a HIIT, you alternately juggle between high-intensity exercises and low-intensity exercises or recovery periods. After a short 5 to 10 minute warm up you perform one exercise or activity using a high intensity. Then you take a period of active or passive rest. Active rest means you perform that very same activity at a low intensity. Passive rest is where you actually take a break to prevent from fainting. This period of rest also helps to remove toxic wastes from your muscles during the resting periods.

High-intensity training adapts to the cellular structure of muscles which enables you to increase your endurance while performing any type of exercise. It increases your stamina, & considered as one of the best styles to pursue if you are someone who has a limited amount of time to work out. 

After a passionate session of HIIT, the excess amount of oxygen consumed helps increase your rate of metabolism from about 90 mins to 144 mins which in turn helps to burn fat at a much faster rate. Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT session, but the effect of all that penetrating toil kicks your body's repair cycle into hyperdrive. That means you burn more fats and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after, say, a steady run.  

However, in the bargain to lose fats, we cannot end up losing muscles. A lot of people follow a strict diet and anyone who has been on a diet knows that it's hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. Cardio workouts seem to encourage muscle loss, nonetheless, weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their muscles while ensuring most of the weight loss comes from fat stores. Indeed a win/win situation!

A common query everyone has while performing HIIT is what intensity is high enough? This can be easily determined by using the heart rate zones or target heart rate. It is simple to determine target heart rate. You should give about 80-90% of your maximum effort with each high-intensity bout. This comes down to an equal percentage of your maximum heart rate.  Let’s use 85% as the standard for our next calculation.

The formula we need to use is as follows:

Target heart rate = maximum heart rate X intensity percentage

To determine your maximum heart rate all that has to be done is to subtract your age from the number 220. For example, if you are 23 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 197 beats per minute. 

Target heart rate:  197 x 0,85 (85%) = 167 beats per minute.

Hence, during the high-intensity bouts, you should try to reach those 167 beats per minute. During the break you obviously want your heart rate to get back to normal. However, duration of the break should be no longer than 1 minute or until the heart rate drops below 85% of target heart rate, whichever is earlier. 

The best thing about HIIT is it is not space specific. You can do it on a bridge, you can do it in a fridge. You can do it here or there, you can do it anywhere! HIIT workouts can be done best with accessories such as TRX, Rower and other fitness accessories around. However, a basic routine can be designed using the body weight and including exercise such as planks, short distance sprints, pushups, kipping pull-ups, burpees, lunges, etc.

Altogether this training style is a great choice for those who love quick results, challenges and effective results on the body & mind. Go HIIT!


(The writer is a fitness enthusiast and founder of  48 Fitness clubs. Views expressed are personal)

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