You’ve likely heard all about interval training. Some of you may have heard of it referred to as HIIT, which is high-intensity interval training, but the terms can often be used interchangeably. This has been one of the biggest trends in fitness in the last couple of years and will continue to remain that way for many years.
Why? Because it’s one of the most effective and beneficial forms of exercise. Whether you’re training for a marathon, want to lose weight or just want to improve your health, interval training offers a world of benefits.
Some of those benefits are often overlooked because they’re not just to do with your physical health. They can help to boost your mental health and your lifestyle. The benefits help to improve your soul and the way you look at your workouts.
With all that in mind, it’s time to look at all the benefits. This ultimate guide investigates every single benefit of interval training, whether physical, mental or emotional.
You’ll Burn More Calories During and After Your Workout
Exercise is good for calorie burning, right? Of course, it is! Because you increase the number of calories you burn, it’s possible to lose more weight. You get to burn the calories from the fat, leading to a toner and fitter you.
However, the most exercise that you do, especially cardio, will only burn minimal calories while you’re working out. HIIT workouts are excellent for increasing the number of calories you burn in a short space of time. If you only have 15 minutes to work out, you should do a HIIT workout to burn the same number of calories (and more) than you would jog for an hour. When you do longer stretches of the workouts, you can burn even more.
But that’s not all! You don’t just burn the calories during the workout, but also afterward. Most HIIT workouts will involve some strength training, which means you work the muscles more. Plus, you’ve boosted the heart health by slowing the rate and then increasing it to its max, only to slow it down quickly again. You also consume more oxygen throughout your workout, which gets your organs working more effectively.
Your metabolism is better supported when you do interval training. It’s possible to keep burning calories for 90-144 minutes after your workout, depending on the intensity and length. So, you get to burn even more calories throughout the day and lose more weight.
The body also goes into a repair hyper-drive after the workout, which means you can continue burning more calories throughout the day. The muscles need time to repair and strengthen, which helps them continue burning calories while you sleep. Some workouts will mean you’re still burning calories for 24 hours after the workout!
Improve Your Endurance Capabilities
Do you find working out hard? You will want to switch to some HIIT classes and interval training workouts. Your endurance is built and improved instantly.
When you do interval training, your body must change and adapt. Your muscles develop on a cellular basis, which helps them handle more and push you through more. As your muscular strength evolves, the endurance for cardio workouts does too. You can find you run for longer and harder than you used to, improving your marathon running time. Cycling to work doesn’t bring out the sweat it used to, so you’re fresher when you get to the office.
You can also get the mental feeling of better endurance. Doing a HIIT workout can give you the feeling like it’s shorter and not as hard as an hour-long run. While HIIT workouts do more, they feel shorter and you get that placebo effect. You know you’ll get short breaks, so you only must focus on full intensity during the on periods of your training session. The more effort you put in, the more you get out of your training.
Your Body Fat Decreases
Remember that you’re working on building muscle. This is useful for your weight loss efforts and your tone.
When you do a HIIT class, you’re going to add more strength training. As the muscles build, they require extra energy. Your body can’t take the energy from the muscles, which is where it’s easier to get from. Because of that, your body is forced to turn to the fat. So, while you’re working on the muscles, you’re burning more fat in your body.
This is excellent for those who may not want to lose weight but tone up. You’ll change the shape of your body, which means you fit into your clothes better and build your self-confidence.
If you are attempting to lose weight, HIIT workouts are essential. You’ll not just burn the calories to lose the weight, but you’ll burn them from the right places. You keep your muscle, toning your body and improving your look instantly.
Of course, the lack of fat offers a range of other health benefits. This is especially the case if you have a lot of fat around your middle. The fat around your abdomen is the unhealthiest of fats because it wraps around your organs and puts them under pressure. You want to get rid of that fat as much as possible and interval training helps with that.
The Heart Health Is Fully Supported
Remember that you’re raising your heart rate, just to drop it quickly and then repeat. This type of extreme training is extremely good for your heart. Your heart is a muscle, so needs the constant work. Interval training pushes you into the anaerobic zone, giving your heart a bigger workout than you will get from any other type of training.
Anaerobic exercise is difficult for prolonged periods of time. In fact, most joggers, swimmers, and cyclists won’t get into the anaerobic zone because it’s almost impossible to maintain the heavy breathing and heart pounding sessions. With HIIT training you will get into that zone for short periods, reduce back to normal and then go back into it. Even if it’s just 30-45 seconds at a time it’s better than nothing at all.
Your heart pumps harder, so you get more blood around the body. That means more oxygen for all your organs and that offers extra support (we’ll investigate that benefit next), so you improve your overall health.
The benefits for the heart don’t stop when you stop exercising. During your training, you’re also improving your recovery rate. It’s easier for your heart to reduce its rate quicker and you can get a lower heart rate during your resting periods. This is excellent for those with high blood pressure and those at risk of heart disease.
You Support Your Brain Health
I promised this would be next. The extra oxygen flowing through your body helps to boost your brain health. By getting more oxygen and blood, your brain’s connections work more effectively. It’s easier to send the right messages throughout the body, supporting your whole central nervous system.
The support also means you see better cognitive functions. Many people doing interval training find that brain fog is a thing of the past. It’s easier to concentrate on tasks and remain protective throughout the day. The memory is better, and you can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many also find that other cognitive functions are improved.
On top of that, you get the hormonal benefits. When you exercise and boost oxygen, your brain released endorphins and serotonin. These are the feel-good hormones that reduce stress levels and depression. You can gain more confidence because you feel happier within yourself. You also feel like you have less pain in the body, so you’re ready for the next workout.
You Don’t Need Any Equipment or to Join a Gym
Do you hate going to the gym but find you need to for the equipment? Are you fed up with attending classes on your instructor’s schedule? Well, all that is a thing of the past with HIIT training. This is something that you can do anywhere you want, on your own schedule and without any equipment at all.
Some women love hill reps—which involve sprinting up a hill and then walking back down, repeating regularly. Other women want to do sprint training on their bikes or in a swimming pool. All these options are available, working with your own preferences and interests. You can do it all for free if you want, especially if you have a pool at home!
When it comes to the strength training part of your interval training, you don’t need to buy anything specific. It’s possible to do bodyweight exercises, which involve the weight of your body to build muscle. Of course, you can get some handheld weights or resistance bands if you want, but they’re not a necessary part of the training process. Sometimes the weights can make a workout less effective, so they tend not to be encouraged for every HIIT program.
The most important part of the training is to get your heart rate up. How you do that is completely up to you if you do it safely.
And this is another benefit. You get the full control over your workouts. If you don’t like doing an exercise, you can skip it. There is nothing to stop you from not running if you don’t want to. When you do something you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with the workout. This means you get more out of it!
There’s also the chance to shake up your exercises more. You can switch between different types of HIIT workouts throughout the week easily. If you’re fed up of the hill sprints, you can switch to sprint sessions in the pool. When that gets boring, you can try the spring sessions on the bike or try another form of the exercise.
It is worth having a range of programs and routines at your disposal. Create a list that you can alternate between, so you avoid boredom while your workout.
Workouts Become Far More Challenging
Interval training is hard. There’s no doubt about that, but this is a good thing. They’re not hard in terms of getting to grips with the training, but in the way, they work your body. You will feel breathless during the exercises and your muscles will beg you not to do it again (in a good way and not because of injury). You’ll feel aches the next day where you didn’t even realize you had muscles.
And because you get these results right away, you’ll be more encouraged to work harder next time. You’ll be happy that you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, building confidence in your abilities.
As you gain more through your exercise, the endurance, confidence, and need for challenges will expand into your lifestyle. You’ll push yourself more at work and in social situations, which will improve your own lifestyle. Plus, you’ll have the confidence with a good body, so you’ll want to make sure people see it.
It’s Suitable for All Levels
Whether you’re just starting with exercise or you’ve done it a lot in the past, interval training is suitable. You can start off with small bursts to get used to it. Those who are returning from a long break can test their levels of endurance and abilities again. When you feel ready to move up, it’s easy to do. All you must do is push your timing in sprints or add more intensity to your workouts. You can also drop the amount of recovery time you get to.
Interval training is constantly adaptable. You will find it easier to improve your exercising abilities and add more to your workouts as you get better.
If you already exercise regularly and want to do something more, interval training is the option to turn to. You’ll instantly push yourself further and improve endurance in your other workouts. What more could you want?