11/10/14

HIIT Is The Cool Kid In School

HIIT training is like the new kid at school. Nobody knows why he’s cool, they just know that everyone wants to be his friend. Normally, this kind of kid would be a social outcast with his extremism, but he has captured the hearts of your entire school for some reason.

Perhaps you’re part of the inner circle and you’ve experienced the benefits of HIIT training, but you’re still wondering what makes this phenomenon so effective? Or maybe you’re one of those lurking people who smokes in the bathroom and makes fun of all the cheer leaders who like HIIT. Either way, it’s best we understand HIIT before we befriend or judge it.


HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training: brief bouts of maximal effort exercise (15 to 120 seconds) followed by brief rest strategically repeated for a workout. Maximal effort bouts cannot last for much more than 30 seconds, however, the body will be able to maintain a high intensity effort for about 2 minutes. Rest periods for this kind of training would be intermittent, lasting about as long as you had just spent working. The quickness of HIIT training has helped it find popularity among the time starved people of the world.- Sounds simple right?

The complexity of HIIT training actually occurs under the surface; Surface of your cells that is. Before we see any benefits of HIIT, we have to pay a hefty price. Maximal efforts require the body to work in an anaerobic state (without oxygen). This will use up creatine and glucose stores within the body. Working at a high intensity will also reach a high, maybe even maximal, heart rate. All of this oxygen free exercise will create an expensive oxygen debt. So the cost of HIIT training is creatine, glucose, heat rate, and oxygen. That’s a hefty bill for such a short period of exertion.

It’s what the body does after HIIT training that makes it so popular. To replenish glucose, the body will increase metabolic processes which will oxidize fats. The demands of high heart rates experienced will also alter metabolic functions. Although HIIT training is solely anaerobic, once exercise ends aerobic (with oxygen) function spikes. The aerobic system has to run at a higher demand during REST to replenish oxygen and allow the body to recover. The oxygen debt created has to be payed with EPOC (excess post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). Because the aerobic system runs primarily on fat, you will literally burn fat while sitting on a couch recovering.

But that's not all. Martin Gibala, among others, has shown that HIIT training improves mitochondrial function. When mitochondria work better they will use fats more, and they will improve endurance. Not only can you sprint your way to a slimmer waste, you can also sprint your way to a better 5 K time.


When you use HIIT training you cash an expensive check that your body has to write. Combine this with a smart diet, and your results will be phenomenal. So now you know why HIIT has gained so much popularity. It’s funny to think that just 20 years ago, during the aerobic workout VHS craze, this kind of training would have been outcast. But we’re more advanced now. We understand how cool HIIT really can be.

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.