You hear people talking about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) all the time, but what exactly is it and why is it supposed to be so good for your fitness levels?

HIIT is the process of alternating between intense periods of anaerobic exercise and recovery periods of exercise. Anaerobic exercise – like sprinting – is exercise of an intensity high enough to begin lactic acid fermentation in muscles, which promotes strength, speed and explosive power.

Alternating between short periods of anaerobic exercise and periods of aerobic exercise results in a highly efficient workout. For best results, the periods of high intensity should be performed at almost maximum effort, and the slower periods at around 50% effort.

Why do HIIT?

HIIT is great for muscle development, but not in the sense of strength or muscles you would use for weight training. It gets you fitter much faster. According to a study published in the Journal of Physiology, HIIT delivers all the benefits of a steady state of cardio in a fraction of the time because of the way it works your muscles.

Studies carried out by the Motreal Heart Institute have shown that participants doing two HIIT workout sessions a week boosted their brain oxygenation within four months. Not only good for your body, HIIT is great for your mind too.

Adults who are in good health and exercise already should try HIIT to see how it increases their fitness. A good level of fitness is best for those starting out with HIIT, so complete beginners or those who haven’t been to the gym for a while might struggle.

HIIT is intense, so it is recommended that you do no more than three sessions a week to avoid injury or unnecessary stress on your joints. More isn’t always better when it comes to HIIT.

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