Almost every part of the term sounds aggressive, right? High Intensity Interval Training. And we’re not gonna sugarcoat it: HIIT isn’t easy.
But if you’re short on time (who isn’t?) and want the biggest return on your suffering (who wouldn’t?), HIIT may be the perfect match. Here’s why:
1. HIIT workouts are short.
There’s no fixed duration that defines a HIIT workout, but it generally involves a warmup, a cooldown, and roughly a half-hour of solid work in between. At AQ, our workouts vary (and not all qualify as HIIT) but they typically average about 32 minutes. Some HIIT routines you find online are shorter and there’s nothing wrong with that. But longer? Approaching an hour? If you’re truly working out intensely, you’d probably be unable to last that long.
2. HIIT boosts cardiovascular fitness.
We won’t bore you with studies—because they’re inconclusive. Sure, plenty of research suggests that HIIT is as good (or better) than traditional endurance exercises when it comes to training your lungs and ticker to work efficiently. But what scientists don’t know is why HIIT improves cardio health so phenomenally. Some researchers suggest that HIIT improves stroke volume, the amount of blood your heart can pump out in one contraction, but nobody has put their finger on how HIIT works its magic.
3. HIIT torches calories.
Assuming you push yourself, the intensity of HIIT makes significantly higher demands on the body than traditional exercise. After a few sessions of steady-state running or rowing, for example, the body adapts and learns how to fuel the activity efficiently. HIIT workouts, in contrast, require all hands on deck: the body burns calories like dry kindling as it scrambles to supply energy to your muscles. HIIT training whipsaws the metabolism, resulting in nearly as many calories burned in 20 minutes of HIIT as you’d get in, say, 50 minutes of traditional exercise.
4. HIIT is scalable.
Intensity depends on context. Some days your “all-out” is barely a crawl, right? Other days you amaze yourself with your output, correct? The measure of a good HIIT workout isn’t the number of plates you put on a barbell or the number of watts you cranked out on a cycle. No, the measure of a good HIIT performance is personal—did you give it your all? Or to be completely technical about it, did you manage to exercise at 80 percent of your maximum capacity for most of the workout? Not sure what 80 percent is? A Fitbit or heart-rate monitor can help—but to be honest, you can also go by feel.
5. HIIT is fun.
HIIT is hard, but some hard things are well worth doing. Here’s the AQ promise: if you work hard to finish the workout, we’ll work hard to make sure you have a great time getting in shape. We’ll supply the music and motivation, you bring the muscle, okay? What are you waiting for?