Why You Should Try HIIT Exercise — Even If You’re Out Of Shape

The Question: I’ve been reading a lot about HIIT. Should I give it a try, even though I’m out of shape?

Answer: Yes. Yes, you should.

HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, is a type of work out that typically alternates between brief spurts of balls-to-the-wall, vigorous exercise and a few minutes of recovery time. This is repeated until you get to the end of the session, which is usually less than 30 minutes.

Athletes have been interval training for decades to make quick performance gains in the shortest amount of time. But well-established research on HIIT shows it has promising benefits for everyone else, too, like increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness, more muscle mass and less insulin resistance.

Compared to “steady state” exercise, in which a person maintains a steady pace for a longer amount of time (e.g, an hour on an elliptical), HIIT has also been shown to accelerate fat loss. In one example from a 2008 study, young women who did a 20-minute HIIT routine on exercise bikes lost an average of 5.5 pounds more fat over a 15-week period than women who did a 40-minute steady state cycle ride.

In other words, the HIIT women lost more fat in half the workout time than women who kept things at an even pace.

But starting an HIIT program can be daunting. For instance, most of the research on HIIT involves participants exceeding 90 percent of maximal oxygen uptake, or the volume of oxygen your body uses during exercise. Even though most HIIT sessions are relatively short, for a person just starting to exercise, it can be intimidating to try to push yourself to your limits in public spaces like classes or gyms.

But it doesn’t have to be —> Read More