Scientists have found that HIT has the same health effects as long steady state cardio exercises. The challenge with High Intensity Interval Training is that it is a very intense exercise. Not many people are able to cope with the high intensity demanded by the exercise. The all out exertion has tremendous health benefits but is equally demanding. It fits the phrase “No pain no gain” very aptly.
Latest research now confirms that High Intensity Interval Training does not have to be as strenuous as initially expected.
High Intensity Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT or HIT) is a type of exercise in which you have bursts of exertion followed by periods of recovery. As an example when using the treadmill, you would probably go run at a high-speed for about 1 minute. This would be followed by a 1 to 2 minute period where you would walk to recover from the earlier intense run. This type of exercise can be done on a stationary bike or even by running outside. The key is to exert and recover.
Read more in an earlier article on how you could use High Intensity Interval training when running. In fact HIT has also being prescribed to people with heart problems because of its effectiveness.
Anyone doing HIT has the advantage of completing the exercise within 15 to 20 minutes. That is all it takes and believe me that you will have your tongue hanging out at the end of the session.
High Intensity Interval Training Can Be for Everyone
Before this, most of scientific research was done based on all out exertions that may not be safe and may not be for everyone.
An interesting study was published in the Journal of Physiology in January 2010. The researchers looked at the effect of “lower intensity” High Intensity Interval Training. The main highlight of the study was that participants only exerted to 95% of their maximal heart rate. While still intimidating, it is not as exerting as an all out sprint. An all out sprint can be 250% more exerting that what was done in this study.
The researchers concluded that a practical model of low volume High Intensity Interval Training is a potent metabolic stimulus for skeletal muscle and improving exercise performance. In simple layman terms, “low intensity” High Intensity Interval Training was still as effective as long steady state cardio.
MJ Gibala who was one of the lead researchers. He talked about 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between. These sprints were done three times a week. Gibala said that these sprints work just as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional low intensity cycling.
He said that to achieve the same results by steady state cardio over the same period (two weeks), you would have to do over 10 hours of continuous moderate cycling exercise.
This less extreme form of High Intensity Interval Training may well suit people who are older, less fit and overweight.
“While still a demanding form of training,” Gibala explained, “the exercise protocol we used should be possible to do by the general public and you don’t need more than an average exercise bike.”