10 Benefits of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: April 30, 2024
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As a seasoned fitness coach, I incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises into my clients' workout routines to efficiently train and assist them in reaching their fitness goals.

To provide thorough guidance, I conducted extensive research on HIIT workouts and collaborated with fellow fitness experts to explore their impact on performance and overall well-being.

In this article, I will outline my findings and offer additional tips to help individuals derive maximum benefits from HIIT workouts.

Quick Summary

  • Some of the benefits of HIIT workouts include improving stamina, burning calories, improving blood flow, and enhancing physical performance.
  • HIIT workouts are crucial for maintaining organ health and muscle strength, as they help minimize internal fat surrounding organs, enabling more efficient functioning.
  • Based on research from the National Institute of Health, high-intensity interval exercise involves engaging in brief periods of intense activity requiring significant effort, typically reaching at least 90 percent of your maximum capacity.
  • As a fitness trainer, I've observed that adding HIIT workouts to my clients' routines helps manage blood pressure and sugar levels and enhances oxygen flow, improving mental health and memory for overall brain well-being.

10 Benefits of HIIT

Person doing HIIT workouts in gym

Here are ten benefits that I've compiled from my research, which have assisted me in motivating my clients to consistently engage in HIIT.

1. HIIT Improves Stamina

HIIT is based on adaptation, in which the body adjusts to the stress it is subjected to to strengthen its ability to cope.

The heart, lungs, and muscle groups will learn to adapt to the challenge by pushing the torso into the anaerobic zone when the heart is functioning at 80-90% of its maximal rate.

As a fitness trainer, I've observed that these workouts have become more manageable for my clients, and their bodies have also maintained a consistent pace and endurance during various challenging activities.

2. HIIT Helps Burn Many Calories

Person doing HIIT workouts

When you undertake a HIIT workout, you burn roughly the same calories as during a traditional intense exercise like running.

However, a HIIT session burns more calories than a steady-state cardio activity like jogging, when your heart rate stays relatively consistent.

A study published on ResearchGate indicates that nine minutes after the activities ended, the HIIT team was burning a standard of 3 kilocalories per minute, compared to 2.8 kilocalories after the steady-state run [1].

Related Article: Do HIIT Workouts Burn Fat

3. HIIT Aids Weight Loss

HIIT is a convenient method for weight loss as it burns more calories, thanks to the phenomenon known as extra post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). With EPOC, the body expends additional calories to repair the damage from a challenging workout.

In my training experience, I've noticed that this is a common occurrence in HIIT exercises because of their high intensity, and I've seen a connection to effective muscle development.

"With HIIT, the heart rate remains up throughout the activity, which is ideal for burning calories, rendering it an efficient alternative for weight reduction."

- Stephen Navaretta, Developer of The Tank Method

4. HIIT Builds Multiple Muscle Groups

Person doing HIIT workouts

Most HIIT workouts engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. For instance, a HIIT session might include squats, push-ups, and burpees, targeting different muscles.

The intensity of these exercises aids in muscle gain and enhances your capacity for sustained workouts., promoting muscular endurance since the muscle groups receive minimal rest.

A study from PubMed found that six weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improved muscular strength in males, representing a rise of approximately 8 percent [2].

5. HIIT Enhances Blood Flow and Oxygen Consumption

The ability of your muscles to use oxygen is important because it enhances your aerobic endurance, allowing you to feel more invigorated and less fatigued during HIIT.

In contrast to endurance training, which improves oxygen consumption through prolonged running at a steady rate, HIIT provides similar benefits in a shorter time.

Additionally, research from ScienceDirect suggests that HIIT can aid in improving your circulatory system, enabling you to complete HIIT exercises without feeling overly tired [3].

Related: Do You Burn More Fat With More Blood Flow

6. HIIT Accelerates Metabolism

Woman holding stomach

A study from PubMed has demonstrated that HIIT can raise your metabolic rate in the hours following a HIIT session, even more than running [4].

The same research reveals that HIIT may cause the body's metabolism to shift toward utilizing fat for energy rather than carbohydrates.

Increasing your metabolism and stimulating it may assist you in burning more calories, losing weight, and keeping it off.

7. HIIT Requires No Equipment

Running, riding, rowing, and jump roping are excellent HIIT exercises that require no equipment.

High knees, rapid feet, and anything plyometric (like jump lunges) can get your heart rate up quickly, and enjoy the advantages of high-intensity interval training just as well.

8. HIIT Can Be Done Anywhere

Because it is such a broad concept — work at full effort for a short duration, followed by a recovery period, then repeat — you can tailor high-intensity interval training to your time and space limits while reaping the advantages of HIIT exercises.

9. HIIT Boosts Performance

Person doing HIIT workouts

High-intensity interval training has been shown to increase an athlete's endurance, agility, speed, and power, as per the Pakistan Journal of Medical & Health Sciences [5].

This is because it causes crucial physiological adaptations such as better oxygen consumption and tolerance to lactic acid accumulation.

Additionally, a study published in PubMed discovered that five weeks of HIIT enhanced participants' maximum rate of oxygen consumption (VO2 max) by 9 percent [6].

10. HIIT Saves Time

One of the primary advantages of the HIIT program is its ability to save time. If you have 15 minutes to exercise, HIIT is the way to go.

You'll get the same health benefits from a longer, less strenuous workout. You'll also get certain distinct benefits depending on the processes of how HIIT works.

In my training experience, I've found that the efficiency of HIIT makes it a valuable time-saving option for my clients, while also providing health benefits comparable to those of longer, less intense workouts.

What Is HIIT?

Person doing HIIT workouts

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery intervals.

According to research published by the National Institute of Health, HIIT is the most time-efficient method of intense exercise [7].

A typical HIIT session lasts 10 to 30 minutes but yields health benefits comparable to twice the duration of moderate-intensity exercises.

"Your 'on' intervals must be all-out for HIIT to be successful. Your active time should not be longer than your rest periods (try 30 seconds on and 15 seconds off). These rest periods might include no activity or moderate-effort movement."

- Annie Mulgrew, Certified Personal Trainer

Tips To Get the Most Out of Your HIIT Training

Person doing HIIT workouts

As a fitness trainer, here are some tips to get the most out of your HIIT training:

  1. Choose familiar workouts for at least 80 percent intensity. I recommend maintaining a strict rest schedule to optimize your performance.
  2. Focus on keeping proper form during exercises. I suggest selecting familiar exercises to avoid potential harm.
  3. Before diving into a HIIT workout, I recommend stretching for five to ten minutes or more to prepare your body for the intensity ahead.
  4. For those engaging in typical cardio HIIT activities, my suggestion is to start with a baseline effort of 50 to 70 percent and gradually increase, as per National Institute of Health [8].
  5. When it comes to selecting weights, go for a manageable load that allows you to perform 10 to 20 repetitions during your "on" moments.

For optimal results, keep HIIT sessions to 20 minutes for beginners and within a 60-minute timeframe for dedicated enthusiasts to maintain the necessary intensity for full benefits.

Read More: Upper Body HIIT Workout

FAQs

What Happens if You Do HIIT Every Day?

If you do HIIT every day, it may impair mitochondrial activity and blood sugar control and raise cortisol levels. Therefore, it's not a good idea to overdo HIIT workouts.

Does HIIT Training Reduce Belly Fat?

Yes, HIIT training reduces belly fat. It will tone your body and burn tummy fat in a short period.

What Type of HIIT Is Most Effective?

The most effective type of HIIT is the full body HIIT. This interval exercise is more efficient than an extended cardio session at shedding weight and developing muscles.


References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330893742_
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28794164/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0765159719300668
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27747847/
  5. https://pjmhsonline.com/2022/jan/582.pdf
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27368057/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6069078/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294064/
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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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