What is HIIT and Why Should You Add it to Your Workouts?

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HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. That may sound complicated but it really isn’t. HIIT simply involves exercise which takes a very short amount of time to perform, but is very high in intensity. It is a physical training technique which requires 100% effort in intense, short bursts of exercise followed by intervals of little to no activity.

The attraction of such a form of exercise is obvious … if you can minimize your time investment while maximizing your results, you have found the perfect workout. HIIT training was listed as 1 of the top 2 physical fitness trends of 2014, and is wildly popular. As it turns out, this form of exercise also delivers more benefits than just saving your time, making it attractive for several reasons.

Fat Burning

HIIT exercises get your heart rate up in a hurry. This form of training also keeps your heart pumping at a high level for an extended period of time. HIIT fans claim the special combination of moves, the high intensity, and short rest intervals all burn fat better and quicker than other forms of exercise such as cardio and aerobics.

Eric Salvador, NSCA, NASM, is the lead instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City. He points out that, “A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery.” This creates the EPOC situation athletes strive for in their workouts. (EPOC stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This is how intense, short bursts of 100% efforts deliver a greater fat-burn than steady-state exercises like walking, running or cycling.

Increased Metabolism

Your metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories. The more calories you burn, the more fat and weight you lose. By delivering the EPOCH state quickly, HIIT exercise boosts your metabolic rate for as many as 48 hours after your HIIT session is over. Who wouldn’t appreciate 2 days of fat and calorie burning after you are done working out?

No Equipment Required

There is the added benefit of no fitness equipment requirements. You don’t need to own a gym membership either, as HIIT DVDs and online video courses are available. Your body is the equipment, combining body weight training exercises and HIIT moves for your workout. Your body, speed, high intensity and gravity combine to deliver all the benefits that HIIT workouts offer.

How to Prevent Sore Muscles After Exercise

You may have heard the saying “No Pain, No Gain” in reference to exercise results. The theory in play here is that if you do not hurt after exercising, you haven’t effectively stressed your body enough to produce any kind of noticeable, physical results. Make no mistake about it, becoming stronger, building more lean muscle, can only happen if you stress your current musculature.

However, you don’t have to feel like you have been stretched out on a medieval torture device like the rack after working out just to produce the results you’re looking for. There are simple ways to prevent sore muscles after exercise. These include steps you take before, during and after your workout that limit the soreness, aches and pains you experience.

Before You Workout

What you do before you exercise impacts how you feel after you are done. One of the most important things to do to lessen sore muscles after a workout is to properly fuel your body before you begin exercising. This means consuming healthy carbohydrates 2 hours before any strenuous exercise. You should also drink plenty of water before you hit the gym, treadmill or swimming pool.

What type of food should you be eating? Whole grains and pastas, fruits and vegetables are rich in healthy carbohydrates that produce fuel for your exercise. You should also drink plenty of water. Give your body enough of the right types of fuel, and your muscles suffer less when you are through exercising.

During Your Workout

Always practice proper form. Certain exercises require particular movements for a reason. They are designed that way to limit injury, as well as to produce a desired result. When you begin to exercise improperly, your chance of an injury escalates, and you also increase the odds that you will be sore and aching when your workout is done.

Marc David is a personal trainer and contributor for Iron Magazine, a bodybuilding and weightlifting periodical. He recommends cool-down and warm-up periods between sets of exercises for minimizing muscle soreness. He also suggests stretching any muscles you are about to work out, and breathing deeply before a set. You should also alternate the days you target specific muscle groups.

After Your Workout

Walking and stretching after exercise can lessen the chance of sore muscles. Staying physically active throughout your week, not just on your exercise days, can also limit muscle soreness. Massage can reduce the pain of sore muscles, as can immersion in cold water. After your workout is over, you should also replace any fluids lost while exercising by drinking plenty of water.

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