Why is HIIT better than steady state cardio?
HIIT workouts can’t be described as “easy,” but almost anyone who is healthy can endure short bursts of intense energy followed by a longer “recovery” period if it means having a fit and firm body in less time.
HIIT may seem too good to be true. The idea that you can work out for a shorter period of time and see greater health gains than you would with a traditional workout is counterintuitive. However, scientific studies back up the results. In this post you will find out why is HIIT better than steady state cardio and what are the top 10 benefits of high-intensity interval training.
Top 10 benefits of high-intensity interval training
Here’s a look at the top 10 benefits of high-intensity interval training that should inspire you to leave behind old school cardio for good. These are some of the most important reasons why is HIIT better than steady state cardio.
HIIT Benefit #1: Burn more calories and fat during the training
Exercising in the higher zone (HIIT) will certainly burn more calories overall for the same amount of time. However, high intensity interval training gives you the benefit of burning more fat as you exercise and even more after the exercise and your body’s repair system goes into turbo-charge after a HIIT workout.
HIIT sessions of just 13 minutes can burn as many calories as a 40-minute low-intensity session, according to a January 2014 study by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
HIIT Benefit #2: Burn more calories and fat long after the training (“afterburn” effect)
This is the fancy word experts and fitness buffs like to use for the increased calorie burning you’ll see after you do an interval workout. Afterburn refers to the fact that after an interval workout, your body burns calories at an elevated rate for up to 24 hours. This is most technically referred to as excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Afterburn happens because the more oxygen your body consumes, the more calories you burn, even after you’re done exercising. Groundbreaking research from the University of Colorado found that exercisers burned up to 200 more calories a day after doing just 2,5 minutes of high-intensity interval training.
That’s not the case with the steady state cardio where you burn calories and fat only during the cardio session.
HIIT Benefit #3: Increases your metabolism
When it comes down to effective and fast weight loss, metabolism is a key area to consider and remember. HIIT workouts encourage the increase in the rate of metabolism and raise the efficiency of fat burning. They also ensure that fatty substances are being utilized and converted into energy for respiration, rather than being stored as fatty tissue.
Studies have shown that carrying out just one HIIT session can result in a boost of metabolism rate that can last up to 48 hours. This means that your body is reaping the benefits of the exercise long after you’ve finished working out.
HIIT Benefit #4: Convenience
HIIT sessions are quick to take part in and can he completed anywhere. You don’t necessarily need complicated gym equipment or even a gym membership. Due to the length of HIIT workouts usually being under thirty minutes, you can also fit them in at any point during the day.
This is a major positive benefit in terms of exercise, because many people struggle to fit in the time to head down to the gym and don’t have the luxury of extensive time to play around. HIIT is perfect for those with busy schedules.
HIIT Benefit #5: Become heart-healthy
When you push yourself into an anaerobic zone during a HIIT workout, you feel that your breath is gone and your heart is pumping furiously. The results are that you heart becomes strong and you increase your endurance level.
HIIT Benefit #6: Promotes muscle gains while burning fat
If you’ve ever been on a diet and exercise program, you know how difficult it is to keep your muscle mass when losing fat. HIIT lets you maintain and build muscle mass when cutting back on calorie intake and burning more calories. This is because HIIT boosts testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) levels, which are responsible for lean muscle gain and fat loss.
This increased level of anabolic hormones contributes to the growth and mineralisation of bone as well as muscle mass (hypertrophy). In contrast, excessive endurance training has the opposite (catabolic) effect on the body, producing the hormone Cortisol, breaking muscle down to use as energy.
One only needs to look at body types attributed to different sports to observe the impact exercise protocols have on muscular composition. Sprinters, for example, have powerful, muscular frames capable of generating short bursts of incredible speed and power. Long-distance runners, their bodies having adapted to this requirement, exhibit the exact opposite, the product of extreme endurance training – sinewy, light and economic.
HIIT Benefit #7: HIIT stimulates human growth hormone production
Intense training can release more growth hormones after a workout. Growth hormones are chemical messengers that, when released into the bloodstream, tell your body it needs to repair and build more fat-burning muscles. Muscle tissue burns more calories, pound for pound, even when you are not working out.
HIIT workouts may increase HGH by 450% – after the workout. HGH increases the amount of calories burned and actually slows the aging process, so you feel and look younger.
HIIT Benefit #8: Improves insulin and blood sugar regulation
Studies show that after only two weeks of HIIT with three workout sessions per week, those with Type 2 diabetes were able to Improve blood sugar regulation.
HIIT Benefit #9: Increasing anaerobic threshold
“Anaerobic threshold” (AT) refers to the point at which lactic acid (waste product) begins to accumulate in the bloodstream, bringing exercise to a stop.
Increasing your anaerobic threshold enables the working muscles to work hard for longer, becoming more efficient at withstanding and removing their waste products. As your anaerobic capacity improves, so do does your ability to raise your AT, enabling you to sustain a higher intensity for longer.
Using HIIT and training our body close to its anaerobic limit, we improve our ability to remove lactate more effectively, pushing back the anaerobic threshold.
HIIT Benefit #10: Developing fast-twitch muscle
Our bodies contain three types of skeletal muscle responsible for generating varying degrees of force. Types of skeletal muscles are: Type 1, Type 2a and Type 2x.
These are general classifications, as modern techniques in fibre typing indicate that fibre types exist on a continuum consisting of multiple variants. For clarity and simplicity, we will stay with the general types.
High intensity interval training makes utilization of both aerobic (Type 1) and anaerobic (Type 2x) muscle strands. This is in contrast with steady state cardio that just makes utilization of Type 1 strands.
HIIT involves doing very fast, short and explosive sprints. These fast sprints primarily recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which grow the biggest, strongest, and fastest. So it’s easy to understand how using HIIT workouts can help you build muscle and power. But the fast-twitch muscle fibers also burn the most calories when you use them.
HIIT is an incredibly challenging workout when performed to the best of your ability. There are times when you will be uncomfortable, sore, and find it very hard to continue. This is also why HIIT is so rewarding; it not only challenges you physically, but also mentally. Learning to push through the barriers and “suck it up” will enable you to strive for success in all areas of your life, not just your fitness.
In this post we have explored the top 10 benefits of high-intensity interval training. However, it is important to highlight numerous health benefits of HIIT that are not discussed in this post.