High intensity interval training is taking the health and fitness world by storm and its most vocal advocates are the celebrities of Hollywood and Bollywood. Healthpick is bringing you the nitty-gritty of HIIT the new favorite among your favorite stars.
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a high intensity workout technique that alternates between periods of activity and less-intense recovery period. HIIT can burn maximum calories in a minimum amount of time. Consequently, this is the best workout regimen for people who constantly complain about “not having enough time.” Not all of us have the kind of lifestyle where we have the time to hit the gym for three-four hours like Salman Khan or are affluent enough to afford high membership fees of a gym.
Exercise intensity can be measured with a scale of perceived exertion, where 1 is low intensity and 10 is the highest intensity you can tolerate. For achieving the best results, HIIT should be performed at an intensity level of 8 or higher for periods lasting 30 seconds or less (or to the point of breathlessness).
Ideally, recovery intervals should be as long or slightly longer than the work interval. A rule of thumb is to wait until breathing is quick but under control. Also, an effective workout should have a 5-7-minute warm-up period to elevate heart rate, a minimum of five high-intensity work intervals and a 4-6-minute cool-down period to help start the recovery process.
HIIT is not a specific exercise. You can do it with sprints, jump ropes, battle ropes, kettlebells, burpees, or whatever strikes your fancy. However, HIIT will aid in your fat loss process only if you follow a good diet to begin with. According to John Abraham, one of the fittest male celebrities of Bollywood, being physically fit and healthy depends 60% on your diet and 40% on your workout regime.
Celebrities who practice HIIT
Bollywood’s hottest star Ranveer Singh had achieved his enviable physique for the movie Padmaavat through mobility drills that involved strength training and HIIT with push-ups, burpees, power moves like deadlifts, and squats. Incidentally, Amir Khan’s well-proportioned body with rippling lean muscles that we see in Dhoom3 was begotten by a mix of HIIT for cardio.
HIIT is not only popular among Bollywood celebrities but also among their Hollywood counterparts. Scarlett Johansson, the Black Widow herself, practices a variation of HIIT called Tabata to keep in shape. Pop-icon Britney Spears is a huge fan of spin class, a kind of high-intensity interval training where the cycling pace and resistance levels are constantly switched up. David Beckham, one of the fittest men on earth, is an avid fan of HIIT. His workout regime mostly consists of short bursts of running and sprint.
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Why HIIT works?
HIIT forces you to work at your maximum level of effort and gives you a little time to rest before you hit your maximum again. HIIT is a form of anaerobic exercise where the body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the available oxygen supply.
The high intensity workout will create a metabolic disturbance in your body. Post-workout your body will continue to burn calories up to 48 hours. This is due to something called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. With HIIT, you not only burn a lot of calories during the workout but because of the high intensity, you will continue to burn calories as your body replaces energy and repairs muscle proteins damaged during exercise. Beyond that, HIIT workout targets and burns more body fat than traditional cardio.
HIIT also helps you to hang on to your muscles as you try to shed fat. HIIT places a significant amount of metabolic stress on muscle tissue. The human body will produce elevated levels of human growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor-1 to repair damaged muscle proteins. This leads to an increase in muscle volume and definition. Long-term steady state cardio or traditional cardiovascular exercise can cause muscle catabolism. Muscle catabolism occurs in your body when the muscle mass is broken down as an energy source.
HIIT also promotes a number of physiological benefits, such as improved stroke volume, increased mitochondrial density, enhanced aerobic efficiency, and improved oxidative capacity of muscle.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT has several proven benefits and is vastly superior to steady state cardio. Here are a few benefits of HIIT work out to persuade cardio lovers to take up HIIT and spice up their routine.
- It improves cardiovascular and pulmonary health.
- It doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done anywhere.
- HIIT gives the flexibility to mix things up and not stick to a regular boring routine.
- Improved V02 Max – It is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen utilized by a person during high intensity workout.
- Afterburn of HIIT is much better than regular cardio.
- HIIT burns the same amount of calories as cardio in one-half of the time.
- Always warm up before hitting HIIT
- Do not work out for too long – The total workout time should be between 4 min – 20 min
- It’s not HIIT if you are not upping the intensity
- Resting between sets is important
- Do not add isolation work to HIIT
- Put a few days between the workout sessions to give your body time to recover
- HIIT is a fat burning tool and not a magic formula
If you happen to be a sedentary person or someone with heart issues HIIT may not be for you. HIIT training shoots up the heart rate to almost 80-90% of the MHR (maximum heart rate). People who are thinking of taking up HIIT should focus on building basic strength first if they lack weight training and athletic background.