It is essential that you know the benefits of high intensity interval training to speed up your metabolism and put fat burning into orbit. This article will present you with some scientific facts and practical tips to take advantage of it at home.
You'll also discover the main directions of HIIT workouts. For example, what are the differences between the Tabata and Gibala methods, and how to choose the most effective one for you?
We will of course talk a little about the famous Insanity program in its different versions made famous by Shaun-T. I'm still a fan of this program, which I use 3 times a week at my age (born in 1967).
Here we go !
Table of Contents
What is HIIT?
Behind the acronym HIIT is the English name "High-Intensity Interval Training" which can be translated as high intensity interval training . HIIT is a short cardio or strength workout that alternates an intense period with a moderate load level or recovery period.
There are no general rules in the periodicity of the execution of HIIT, since everything depends on the type of physical activity as well as your muscular and cardiovascular capacities.
It can be 20 intense seconds with 30 quieter seconds. But an experienced athlete will be able to alternate 4 intensive minutes of the Tabata protocol followed by 20 seconds of recovery only. This is one of the techniques proposed in the Insanity program calendar.
The important thing about HIIT is that alternating "spitting guts" with a cooler pace, but without a complete stop.
Benefits of HIIT
The main benefit of high-intensity interval training is to accelerate metabolism and fat burning processes, as well as to increase aerobic endurance and tissue oxygen consumption.
HIIT has a positive effect on glucose metabolism, gradually decreasing the sensitivity of fatty tissue to insulin. This reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The amount of calories burned during this training is higher than usual, but also the following days. Indeed, this type of session involves what the English-speaking world calls "aferburn effect". More precisely, it is the natural metabolic phenomenon known as excess of post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.
You should know that this extra calorie consumption by your body lasts 48 to 72 hours after an intense HIIT session. It is therefore the best type of sports session to destock body fat.
Metabolic changes with interval training
In general, during low to moderate intensity exercise, muscle fibers use fat as their primary energy source.
However, during periods of high intensity or changes in pace, the source of energy for the muscle fibers is its glycogen reserve (glucose stored in the muscles).
However, this energy source is short term. You can't count on it for a marathon for example, except for the final sprint.
When you constantly alternate the pace between aerobic and anaerobic, the body simply doesn't understand what type of fuel it should be using.
Therefore, it increases the metabolism of fats as well as glycogen. For your information, you know you are in the anaerobic phase when you are unable to speak during exercise.
Atypical interval loading forces the body to restructure its metabolism so that it uses free fatty acids to fuel the fast muscle fibers if needed, although generally these processes are minimized.
As in the case of circuit training, after depleting glycogen stores, HIIT workouts lead to an increase in the synthesis of growth hormone. It is important to note that despite its name, this hormone is more responsible for fat burning in adults.
Here are a few rules to follow to make your intense HIIT sessions successful:
1. Before the session, avoid taking fat burners containing caffeine or other stimulants such as energy drinks. These products increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can give you palpitations during exercise.
2. Do not drink isotonic beverages during the session. The fast carbohydrates they contain are useful for endurance sports. But they interfere with the process of using glycogen stores in the body, partially blocking fat burning.
3. After finishing the HIIT workout, avoid going to the sauna, since high temperatures negatively affect post-workout metabolism. A cold shower, on the other hand, improves metabolism while decreasing the cardiac frequency.
4. Refuse HIIT workouts if you are on a low-carb or ketogenic diet. Without glycogen stores, you run the risk of losing consciousness during this type of training.
Interval training involves a significant demand on your physical abilities. If you haven't been involved in sports for a long time, don't start with HIIT.
Take the time to re-train your body with some cardio sessions (as José would say in Household Scenes).
If you have access to a ellipticalGo for it. Learn the regularity for 2 or 3 weeks and start to integrate acceleration phases when you feel your heart has the capacity.
This type of training is not recommended for people with cardiovascular problems, as the blood pressure level increases with exercise.
In addition, HIIT workouts are now often recommended for diabetics and pre-diabetics. This is one of the reasons why this article from MedicalNewsToday (in English) which shows the positive effect of this type of training on insulin resistance.
However, I urge you to be cautious. If you are part of this population, you should be aware that a major change in physical or dietary rhythm may also require a change in medication.
If you have any doubts, check with your doctor first.
The evolution of HIIT techniques
The first coach who consciously applied the principles of HIIT was Peter Coe who trained his son Sebastian, double Olympic champion in middle distance (Olympic Games of 1980 in Moscow and 1984 in Los Angeles).
Based on the work of German scientist Woldemar Gerschler in 1976, Peter Coe recommended the following training: the combination of the 200-meter race with 30 seconds of rest, then the consecutive repetition of this cycle.
The Tabata Protocol
This famous method of interval training is attributed to Japanese doctor Izumi Tabata who followed the Olympic speed skating team in 1996. The main objective of his training technique was to increase the maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) of the athletes.
You will find an excerpt of his study in English here .
A Tabata session consists of 8 cycles of 20 seconds with the highest possible intensity, alternated with 10 seconds of rest. The duration of the session is 4 minutes.
The Gibala technique
The application of HIIT workouts by non-professional athletes began in 2006 with the work of Martin Gibala of McMasters University in Canada. The goal of his study was to achieve an athletic physique as quickly as possible.
In particular, he demonstrated that 2.5 hours of HIIT resulted in the same progression (in terms of performance) as 10.5 hours of traditional endurance training.
Each cycle of this method consists of 60 seconds of high intensity and 75 seconds of low intensity. A total of 8 to 12 cycles are performed. The recommended frequency is 3 times per week.
Of course, there are many other uses for high-intensity interval training.
One of the best known was popularized by Shaun-T, the creator of the Insanity program. For example, the MAX:30 version that I own includes 2 modules that use the Tabata protocol.
HIIT training to burn fat
The application of the HIIT to burn fat began after it was discovered that the Little-Gibala method improves insulin sensitivity by 35 % in two weeks. In this case, the level of muscle involvement is close to 80 %, while during conventional cardio it is only around 40 %.
Recent scientific studies have shown that although HIIT training requires fewer calories due to the short duration of effort, the post-training processes cause the body to burn more calories, causing HIIT enthusiasts to expend more energy.
Conclusion on interval training
HIIT workouts that consist of alternating periods of maximum load with periods of rest are one of the most effective ways to accelerate fat burning.
High intensity training is designed to increase the endurance of athletes. But it has also been shown that athletes who want to build muscle volume perform better during intensive efforts with heavy loads.
It seems that no athlete should do without it if he wants to progress.
So when are you going to get started?
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Last update on 2022-11-04 / Affiliate links / Some images are from the Amazon Product Advertising API