The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Looking to unlock the secret to your success at the gym? You’ve come to the right place. My friend and uber awesome trainer Dave Caudal tells us how to maximize our workouts in order to see real results. Oh yeah, I’m listening. 

Want to achieve optimal fitness, weight loss (or gain), self confidence and more? I invite you to take a close look at both your diet and your workouts. There is no one size fits all approach to working out- some people need to train harder in order to see the results they want, while others need to watch their diet more closely to see real change.

When I work out and train my clients I like to maximize my time spent in sweat mode. If you want the results from your work in the weight room to add up fast, high intense interval training can be one of the “magic” keys that you’ve been searching for.

What is HIIT

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is not only for cardio. You can also achieve impressive muscle growth and breakthrough muscle-building plateaus by incorporating it into your weight lifting program.

There are many different ways to explain a HIIT program, but the best way for me to simplify it is this: You work EXTREMELY hard for a short period of time, rest for a short period of time, and repeat for the duration of your workout. A HIIT workout should last between 20-40 minutes.

The Benefits of HIIT

What HIIT does to your metabolic rate is quite interesting. Here’s an example:

HIIT BenefitsIf you were to do 45 minutes of cardio by running outside or on a treadmill at a moderate pace and a moderate incline, you could expect to burn about 350-450 calories. Now, if you were to do 15-20 minutes of HIIT cardio on the same treadmill (and push yourself to your limits), you can burn about the same amount of calories in about one-third the time.

But there’s more.

When you step off the treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike after a long session of cardio, your metabolic rate quickly stabilizes and you return to your body’s normal rate of energy burning. Your body’s normal rate of energy burning is very low unless you have significant muscle mass. The fat-loss benefits from your cardio session are over. What was burned was burned, and it ends there.

With HIIT, even after you complete your short training session, your metabolic rate remains in an elevated state. This sometimes lasts for more than 24 hours. This means that after 15 minutes of intense exercise exertion, you will continue to burn calories efficiently at rest, for hours to come.

But there’s still more.

The intensity of exercising while using a HIIT approach to your cardio or weight-lifting routines can make a dramatic change in how your body responds to the workouts. That’s because you will release unique hormones called “catecholamines.”

Catecholamines are “fight-or-flight” hormones released by the adrenal glands in response to stress, such as high-intensity exertion. This reaction signals the nervous system and promotes the release of free fatty acids into the bloodstream. This is a good thing!

Also, the intense exercise from a HIIT routine will lead to a chemical hormonal change in your body, stimulating serotonin and dopamine receptors. Since both serotonin and dopamine are “happy hormones,” that makes intense interval exercise both highly effective for physique transformation and your mood.

Here is a Sample HIIT Cardio Workout

This is usually how I introduce HIIT cardio to my clients:

HIIT cardio is done either on a treadmill, or when the option is available, outside on a level grass surface.

  • 30-second run at 70 percent maximum effort (approximately 7.0km/Hr)
  • 30-second walk at regular pace (approximately 4.5km/hour)
  • 30-second sprint at 70 percent maximum effort (approximately 7.0km/Hr)
  • 30-second walk at regular pace (approximately 4.5km/hour)
  • 30-second sprint at 80 percent+ maximum effort (approximately 8.0km/Hr)
  • 30-second walk at regular pace (approximately 4.5km/hour)
  • 30-second sprint at 80 percent+ maximum effort (approximately 8.0km/Hr)
  • 30-second walk at regular pace (approximately 4.5km/hour)
  • 30-second sprint at 90 percent+ maximum effort (approximately 10.0km/Hr)
  • 30-second walk at regular pace (approximately 4.5km/hour)
  • 30-second sprint at 90 percent+ maximum effort (approximately 10.0km/Hr)
  • 30-second walk at regular pace (approximately 4.5km/hour)

At this point, you have been performing HIIT for 6 minutes, and now it’s time to push it!!

For the next 6-8 minutes, during your “on” intervals, you should sprint as fast as you can (100% maximum effort). Remain in complete control while maintaining your “off” period at about 4.5km/Hr.

The total length of your HIIT cardio session should be a minimum of 12 minutes and a maximum of 25 minutes. Also, then you must complete your HIIT cardio session with a 4-5 minute cool down period, which is walking at a pace of about 4km/hr.

If you perform this HIIT cardio protocol 2-3 days per week, you will put yourself in a strong position to enhance your metabolism and burn incredible amounts of fat. Again, compliment your workouts with a clean diet.

With all of this new information on the benefits of high-intensity training, I truly hope that you are inspired to step outside of your comfort zone to push yourself harder than you previously thought you were capable of. Even if it’s only a four-week program that features a couple HIIT workouts each week, that’s enough to make a positive transformation in your physique and your mood. I know that it will give you new motivation to keep raising the bar for your future workout performance.

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