Why HIIT Workouts Are Great For People Short On Time

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fitness technique that involves alternating between short intervals of high-intensity exercise and brief periods of rest or recovery (via Vox). While HIIT workouts typically combine a mix of weight training and cardio, they need to be intense and vigorous enough for your heart rate to reach at least 80% of its maximum capacity for 1 to 5 consecutive minutes at a time, followed by a few minutes of complete rest or low-intensity exercise.

Since HIIT is such a broad fitness category, however, there are many different workouts you can do to elevate your heart rate and burn many calories in a short amount of time. For instance, one type of effective HIIT routine is known as the 4-by-4 from Norway, which involves a warm-up and then four intervals of intense exercise for 4 minutes each, broken up by three-minute intervals of lighter exercise, such as brisk walking.

The benefits of HIIT

While adults who engage in moderate exercise need to commit to 150 minutes weekly to meet the CDC's recommendations, people who practice HIIT only need to commit to 75 minutes. In addition to being a great fitness technique for people who are short on time, HIIT is also associated with a number of important health and fitness benefits.

One of the major advantages of HIIT is that it can help you burn more calories than you normally would from moderate-intensity exercise (via Insider). That's because it allows you to continue to burn more calories after you've stopped working out. In fact, a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Sports Medicine found that athletes who engaged in HIIT workouts burned an average of 3 kilocalories per minute at least nine minutes after they stopped exercising, which was higher than the 2.8 kilocalories per minute burned by those who engaged in less intense exercise.

As a result, HIIT workouts can also promote weight loss, alongside a healthy and well-balanced diet. Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found people who perform HIIT workouts lost an average of 28.5% more body fat than those who exercised at a lower intensity.

"With HIIT, your heart rate stays up for the entire exercise, which is optimal for burning calories, making this an effective option for weight loss," personal trainer Stephen Navaretta told Insider. Furthermore, HIIT can also boost your metabolism, build muscle mass, and lower your blood pressure.