The 9 Benefits of HIIT with Examples: Is it the King of Cardio? - IIFYM

9 Benefits of HIIT: Is it the King of Cardio?


 

I’m about to use a word that I absolutely hate, and that word is CARDIO. I may be standing alone on this one, but I’m willing to bet there are many of you out there reading this IIFYM.com article having the exact same thought. I live an extremely hectic life between running my business and being a good husband and father.

Every devoted second of my day I want to be consumed with those elements. That’s not to say that I don’t value my health, in fact, it’s because I make my health and fitness a priority that I am rarely ever sick, and I’m able to play with my son without needing an oxygen mask. Valuing your health is critical, if you haven’t already, find out your cutting macros with the IIFYM calculator.

One way that I’m able to minimize my time in the gym and spend more time with my family is using HIIT cardio. HIIT for those who aren’t familiar is high-intensity interval training. Because we all seem to like acronyms these days, we simply say HIIT for short.

Why HIIT is Superior for those Pressed for Time

Getting back to my loathe for cardio. I have zero interest in spending an hour on the treadmill, bicycle, elliptical, stepper, rower, or whatever piece of cardio equipment you’d like to throw in here. It’s not going to happen. I don’t like it. You couldn’t pay me to do it. And because I don’t like slow steady-state cardio for long durations, I found HIIT to be extremely advantageous.

I highly recommend that if you do not like a form of exercise, find an alternative that you do. That doesn’t mean to totally neglect that piece of the equation, it just means you need to find something else to put in its place that you enjoy. Cardio is a necessary evil when it comes to achieving your physique goals and burning off unwanted body fat to showcase the muscle you worked hard to build. Which is why we highly recommend it for most of our clients!

*Note: Before we get any further, we need to say one thing. HIIT cardio or any form of exercise CAN have negative side effects on those with health issues and even those without any symptoms but rather has an underlying health issue. We at IIFYM.com, as well as the author, would encourage all of you to see your doctor before engaging in any exercise program including the HIIT topic described in this article. For your safety, please make sure the doctor clears you and says it is safe to begin any exercise protocol.

 

circadian regulation

 

Through HIIT there is HOPE

HIIT is a style of training where you exert 100% effort in quick bursts and is then followed up by a short recovery period before being repeated again several times. The rest and recovery periods for HIIT can either be done actively through something like a walk.

For instance, we’ve seen our clients utilize sprints in their HIIT training. You could sprint for 30 seconds on a treadmill or outside, and then walk for the next 60 seconds for your rest and recovery phase. Then you repeat the cycle.

HIIT is a great way to burn fat while preserving hard-earned muscle mass

Some people will use the rest and recovery phase to completely rest and stop movement all together before hitting it hard. In that case, many people shorten the cycles where they give an all-out sprint for 20 seconds and completely rest for 10-20 seconds before beginning their next sprint.

The more advanced you are in the fitness game, the longer you are going to want your working phase of HIIT and the shorter you want your rest and recovery to be. Start out with shorter work phases and longer rest/recovery and keep progressing and pushing yourself.

Example Routines

Need some other examples to get you started with HIIT? Here are some IIFYM.com recommendations through the use of a high school track assuming you have one nearby:

1) Bleacher sprints are a great way to get in your HIIT session. You could do something as simple as 10 complete rounds and then call it a day. To complete your first round, all you need to do is start at the bottom of the bleachers where there is a clear row going all the way to the top of the stadium bleachers. Sprint up the stairs to the very top.

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Once at the top, turn around and walk back down to ground level. Perform these nine more times to finish off a killer HIIT cardio session. As your fitness level improves, you can add in more rounds as necessary. Once ten becomes too easy, bump it up to 15, then 20, etc. As a note, if the bleachers are wet or snow-covered, do not attempt HIIT on them as there is a high probability that you will slip and potentially injure yourself.

2) Want to feel like an athlete again? Walk out onto the football field and line up on the goal line, facing the opposing goal line on the opposite side of the field. Then sprint from the goal line to the 10-yard line. Turn around and walk back to the goal line. Then immediately sprint to the 15-yard line. Turn back around and walk to the goal line.

 

hiit cardio

 

Do this until you reach the 50-yard line. After you walk back from the 50-yard line, do your 10th round by sprinting all the way to the other goal line and walk back to where you started. As this becomes easier for you, progress from the 50-yard line until you eventually can keep pushing in five-yard increments to the other goal line. As an additional note, just like in the above example, if the ground is wet or snow-covered, do not attempt HIIT cardio on the field.

Because Time isn’t On Our Side

The goal with HIIT cardio is to keep your heart rate elevated so it allows you to burn more calories and fat in a shorter period. I’m a fan of productivity and efficiency, so in my opinion, HIIT is a slam dunk. You get to it, hit it quick, hit it hard, and then you’re out of there and moving on with your day.

…those who were in the HIIT group burned on average around 100 more calories per day compared to the slow steady-state group…

We all know that you can’t out-train a poor diet. And the good news is that you don’t need to when you find a plan that fits your lifestyle. IIFYM.com has everything from a 90-day weight loss challenge, to custom workouts, and even blueprints and recipes that you can utilize. If you haven’t checked out the IIFYM.com programs, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to see how they can take your health and fitness to the next level.

What are some benefits of HIIT cardio for IIFYM fans?

• You can do HIIT anywhere—inside or outside
• You can do HIIT with friends or alone
• HIIT is extremely efficient on time
• Aids in heart health
• HIIT challenges you both mentally and physically
• You don’t need any equipment to perform it
• It’s a great way to burn fat while preserving hard-earned muscle mass
• HIIT is a fantastic way to naturally increase your metabolism
• HIIT allows your body to burn calories well after your session is over

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When you have zero excuses to not exercise, where do you go from there? Claim insanity? HIIT allows you to exercise anywhere you want, at any time of day. It can be in your house or outside, it doesn’t matter. Do you travel for a living?

Great! No matter where you go, you can fit in a HIIT session—including in your hotel room. Is the weather nice outside? Perfect! Grab your friends and crush a HIIT workout with them and see who can out-perform the others. Is your day full of meetings but you have a window of around 15-minutes before work to get in a quick workout? HIIT it is!

 

How much cardio

 

The Psychological and Physiological Edge

You’ll also find no other form of cardio tests your mental fortitude like HIIT cardio does. There is a great chance that in the middle of your HIIT session you think you could very well die. It’s rough—but you need to push through it. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it—ah, the cliché.

But let’s also look at this from an athlete’s standpoint. Let’s compare the physiques of marathon runners and sprinters. Notice a difference? The sprinters are almost always carrying more muscle mass than a marathon runner and the sprinter is often times also holding onto less body fat as well. Why is that?

You’ll save time, burn more calories over the next 24 hours, and make your cardio sessions more efficient.

For starters, look at their training styles. Sprinters, well, sprint. Marathon runners are generally training for hours doing a slow steady-state form of cardio. How about we allow studies show us why there could be a difference between these athletes and how utilizing HIIT could help you burn fat and preserve your lean muscle mass in the process?

The research speaks for itself

In a 1994 study, two groups were used to test the effectiveness of HIIT cardio versus slow steady-state (1). One group was asked to perform 15-week of HIIT cardio while the slow steady-state group was asked to complete 20-weeks of cardio. At the end of the study, the slow steady-state group burned 15,000 more calories than the HIIT group. However, the HIIT group burned more body fat and in a shorter timeframe.

Another group of researchers conducted a similar study in 2001 where a slow steady-state group and HIIT cardio group were asked to perform their respective forms of cardio over an eight-week duration (2). At the end of the eight weeks, the group who utilized the HIIT style of cardio shed two percent body fat, while the slow steady-state group did not lose any body fat.

Even with a proper exercise routine, a great physique starts with a dialed-in diet. Have us create your Custom Macro Blueprint, so you can start to lose fat now!

It was also noted that those who were in the HIIT group burned on average around 100 more calories per day compared to the slow steady-state group when tested 24 hours after the conclusion of a cardio session. This shows HIIT participants can burn more calories at rest when using this style of cardio.

Still not impressed? HIIT cardio can also be beneficial in the short-term as well. In 2007, a study was published looking at females and how HIIT cardio could improve fat loss (3). Within a two-week timeframe, the researchers asked the young women in the study if they could perform seven HIIT sessions. When the study was complete, researchers found that there was a 30% increase in fat oxidation for all of the subjects who participated.

 

calories

 

It’s a No-Brainer

Who wouldn’t want to burn more calories at rest from a single cardio session? I sure as heck would and so do our clients! Yet another study on HIIT cardio was conducted and showed that those individuals who used a stationary bicycle for their session were able to burn significantly more calories at rest for the next 24 hours than their counterpart who conducted a slow steady-state form of cardio (4).

The coaches at IIFYM.com can take your fat burning metabolism (thanks to HIIT cardio) and keep it revving by helping you choose foods that provide you with both the micro and macronutrients your body needs to function optimally. They are also able to customize workout plans to suit your needs and goals.

In Conclusion

If all of the studies mentioned above and information provided in this IIFYM.com article wasn’t enough to at least have you thinking about giving HIIT cardio a try, then I hope you are making some amazing progress with that slow steady-state you might be doing. However, if you are looking in the mirror and you aren’t happy, what do you have to lose by giving HIIT cardio a shot? Nothing.

I’m a fan of trying new things that are free and don’t cost me a thing other than my time. I’m also willing to bet that once you give HIIT cardio a try and you find the right form that you enjoy (whether it’s sprinting outside or on a bicycle) that you will never want to go back to slow steady-state again.

You’ll save time, burn more calories over the next 24 hours, and make your cardio sessions more efficient. I’m not saying HIIT cardio is the only way to reach your health, fitness, or physique goals, but I am saying it’s a pretty darn good way if you stick to it in the long-run.

Using a combination of HIIT cardio along with an IIFYM diet program is a great way to achieve your health and fitness goals. If weight loss is your goal, IIFYM.com has some of the best and most affordable plans available. If knowledge is what you are seeking, IIFYM.com has some of the best writers in the industry producing top notch content. While not all articles are specific to IIFYM, they are definitely all things that you can add or implement to your IIFYM lifestyle.

+ REFERENCES
  • Tremblay, A., et al. "Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism." Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1994.
  • King, J.W. A comparison of the effects of interval training vs. continuous training on weight loss and body composition in obese premenopausal women (thesis). East Tennessee State University, 2001.
  • Talanian, J.L., et al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology 102(4):1,439-1,447, 2007.
  • Treuth, M.S., et al. Effects of exercise intensity on 24-h energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 28(9):1,138-1,143, 1996.

about the author

Matt Weik

Matt Weik is the Founder/Owner of Weik Fitness, LLC and is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. His work has been featured in over 85 fitness magazines and over 1,500 websites. Check out weikfitness.com


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  • Teri Z.

    Great article! How long should you do a HIIT workout?(how many minutes/session) Thanks!

    • Sarah Z.

      It’s up to you! If it’s your first time, start with a 15 minute session. There are plenty of beginner HIIT workouts and apps you can use if you need ideas. 🙂

      • Teri Z.

        Thanks, Sarah! I should clarify. I’m not a beginner but I’m still confused by all the different research out there. Some say don’t do more than 30 minutes; others don’t give a time. I just want to burn the most fat without breaking down muscle. 🙂 Haha-don’t we all!

        • MrTee

          If you’re doing HIIT correctly then 10-15 minutes is all you need and you will feel tapped out by that point. A 5 minute warm up, then 10-15 minutes of HIIT, followed by 5 minutes warm down.

  • fmrleftchick

    The article states that one of the benefits of HIIT is … “It’s a great way to burn fat while preserving hard-earned muscle mass.”

    I recently read another article, by a reputable fitness expert that states just the opposite. What he is addressing is losing fat while maintaining muscle built during a bulking/calorie surplus phase.

    His advice is to lower current weight training volume and frequency while lifting the same amount of weight. This is done in conjunction with a high protein, moderate calorie deficit. In other words, lift the same weight for deadlift, squat, bench, overhead, rows, and pullups but doing only 2 sets instead of 3, and only 2 times per week as opposed to 3.

    This method works, as I’ve done it for the past several years but only engaging in LISS “cardio” to burn some extra calories.

    I’d like to know how and when to dovetail a couple HIIT sessions in this type of routine? After weight training, off days, etc? I know that in a calorie deficit, recovery is inhibited so I’m not sure what is optimal?

    • Ill Johnson

      Doing hiit right after weights is way better than doing it before weights. The reason being is that weight lifting doesn’t deplete your glycogen stores. In terms of off days understand that hiit is tasking on the body so you don’t want to overload your joints with too much of it. So maybe a low intensity hiit on your off days and 2 higher insensty hiit workouts after you lift during the week.

      • fmrleftchick

        Thanks for responding. Since I asked the question, I’ve actually been doing pretty much what you’ve suggested with the exception of lower-intensity HIIT on off days.

        I’ve been doing high intensity post weight lifting and a couple days of brisk walking on two off days, and total rest on the other two.

        I calorie cycle with a moderate surplus on weight days, but a deficit on off days, which make my overall week a deficit of about 1250-1500 calories (I’m at about 2500 cal deficit this week because I wanted to fit in a bit of Easter candy tomorrow..ha!)

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