Home Cardiovascular High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Can It Be Better Than Other Exercises?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Can It Be Better Than Other Exercises?

Fitness buffs and professionals balancing a busy schedule always seek efficient and effective workout methods. High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has become a time-efficient option for traditional cardio and other exercises. 

But is it better than others? Let’s find out what HIIT is about and how it compares to your regular cardio routine. Ready to sweat in style? 

  • Quick facts about interval training
  • How it compares to other exercises
  • Potential health benefits

Understanding High-Intensity Interval Training

Exercise is crucial for preventing long-term health conditions. It includes high blood sugar levels or diabetes, heart conditions, and depression. Historically, healthcare providers have recommended it for overall health. Despite its proven benefits, many people still don’t exercise enough! 

The World Health Organization recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly for significant health benefits. Recent studies focus on interval training, which involves short, intense activities with rest periods. It can be as effective as longer and moderate exercises. It offers a time-saving solution for busy people like you.

Efficient Time Use

It involves short, intense bursts of exercise at near-maximal effort, alternating with rest periods. It’s incredibly efficient for improving heart health and endurance in less time. But, it can be intense and requires strong motivation because it’s challenging. 

Recent studies show that sessions of less than 15 minutes can be just as effective for health benefits. You can get significant fitness gains from HIIT without spending much time, which is perfect for your hectic sked.


High-intensity interval training is very flexible.  It’s all about mixing it up and having fun with your exercise. You can do it differently:

  • Running outside or on a treadmill
  • Dancing to your favorite tunes
  • Using rowing machines
  • Biking on stationary bikes
  • Climbing stairs
  • Sprinting
  • Jumping rope
  • Bodyweight exercises

Intensity Levels

HIIT, Tabata, and circuit training are all ways to get a high-energy workout. Tabata, created by Professor Izumi Tabata, involves super intense exercises with short breaks. Gyms offer 20-30 minute Tabata classes where you push yourself hard but can adjust as needed. 

Circuit training has various exercise stations for different muscles, with extended exercises. Unlike circuit training, high-intensity interval training and Tabata focus on reaching 80-95% of your max heart rate for a powerful workout. 

Imagine this: you sprint like a cheetah for 30 seconds, then stroll like a cat for 60 seconds. That’s a basic high-intensity interval training interval. 

Repeat this for a couple of rounds, and you’ve got yourself a killer workout that packs a serious punch in a short amount of time. Think short bursts of intense activity followed by recovery periods – it’s all about working hard and resting smart.

Comparing HIIT vs. Other Exercises

Steady-state cardio is any exercise that gets your heart pumping. It can be maintained for at least five minutes, like brisk walking, jogging, or dancing. It’s consistent in speed and intensity, usually falling around 4-5 on the perceived exertion scale. 

You’re working at a moderate intensity, about 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. It can be a great way to maintain heart health and endurance without the high intensity of other workouts.

In contrast, high-intensity interval training alternates between intense bursts of activity and rest periods. During the high-intensity phases, you’re pushing yourself to about 9-10 on the perceived exertion scale, while recovery periods are more relaxed, around 3-4. 

You operate at high intensity, approximately 80% to 95% of your maximum heart rate. This type of workout is perfect for a challenging yet efficient exercise regime that fits a busy lifestyle.

Researchers found steady-state (cardio) training as practical as HIIT for untrained students. Mild interval training offers similar physical benefits to steady-state exercises. 

Interestingly, intense training was less enjoyable than other forms, and overall, enjoyment of all training types decreased over an 8-week program. While high-intensity interval training is efficient, finding a workout for long-term adherence and benefits is crucial.

However, other researchers critique the use of HIIT protocols in research. They emphasize that small changes in exercise routines can impact results significantly. It points out that protocols used in some studies differ from the original designs. 

The researchers stress the need for precise replication of protocols to get accurate findings. They also highlight the issue of enjoyment and the importance of considering long-term adherence rather than just immediate reactions. Thus, when choosing a training program, it’s essential to consider how closely it follows researched protocols for effective results.

Exploring 5 Potential Benefits of HIIT vs. Other Exercises

High-intensity interval training has been a top fitness trend due to its efficiency and effectiveness. Research shows it supports oxygen use, endurance, and metabolism. At the same time, it improves body mass, insulin sensitivity, and brain functions. 

Additionally, it reduces the risk of various health issues like heart and joint conditions. While it’s not necessarily superior to other exercise forms, its main advantage is efficiency. It offers similar health benefits as other workouts but in less time and includes rest periods. So, how does it stack up against your usual cardio grind? Let’s see the effects of the following:

1. Burn Calories

HIIT burns more calories in less time than traditional cardio. Those high-intensity blasts kick your metabolism into overdrive, even after you’ve finished sweating. It’s like setting your body on fire in the best way possible.

Researchers compared the effects of different types of exercises on post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Ten men performed resistance training (RT), moderate-intensity steady-state (SS) aerobic exercise, and high-intensity intermittent (IT) aerobics. 

The results showed that RT and IT increased resting metabolic rate (RMR) more than SS exercise, suggesting they might be more effective for boosting daily calorie burn. RT or IT into your routine could be more beneficial for increasing calorie burn than steady-state exercises.

2. Shrink Body Fat

High-intensity exercises may be better for reducing body fat, especially around the belly, compared to regular aerobic exercises. It helps improve overall fitness and makes your body use fat and sugar more effectively. 

It could be a good strategy for losing weight and improving health. Adding high-intensity workouts to your workout could offer better results for fat loss.

Another study tested two interval training programs for overweight/obese women to see if they improved fitness, body fat, and blood lipids. Participants tried high-intensity workouts with different lengths and recovery times. 

Results showed no big differences between the two training methods. Both helped increase exercise tolerance and decrease body fat. Short, intense workouts might be effective for women looking to improve fitness and reduce body fat.

3. Improve Heart Health

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) offers similar benefits to MICT (Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training). MICT typically involves 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise at 64-76% of peak heart rate. 

In contrast, interval training has more intense activity bursts, followed by recovery periods. This difference in exercise style means interval training can be more varied and intense. On the other hand, MICT provides a steady, consistent workout. 

A study involving 273 patients with heart conditions and other chronic health issues found that high-intensity interval training improved heart and lung fitness almost twice as much as MICT. 

Unlike MICT, HIIT also significantly reduces bad cholesterol (LDL). When HIIT sessions are at least 2 minutes long or match the energy burned in MICT, they’re even better for heart and lung fitness. It could be a more efficient workout choice, especially for heart health.

4. Build Strength and Muscle Tone

High-Intensity Interval Training plays a big role in preventing and helping people with metabolic problems. Recent research shows it causes changes in muscle proteins and increases acetylation in mitochondrial proteins. These are important for muscle function and energy use. High-intensity workouts do more than just burn calories; they make your muscles healthier and more efficient at a deep cellular level.

A study compared traditional high-intensity interval training using rowing with multimodal training that includes strength exercises. Twenty-eight active women participated in a 6-week program. 

Both HIIT types improved aerobic and anaerobic power similarly. However, unlike the rowing-only, the multimodal training significantly increased muscle strength and endurance. Incorporating varied high-intensity interval exercises can offer heart benefits and muscle strengthening.

5. Promote Mental Wellness

Researchers found that during COVID-19 confinement, both HIIT and Moderate-Intensity Training (MIT) reduced anxiety, stress, and depression. At the same time, these exercises boosted resilience. Particularly, high intensity showed a stronger effect in reducing depression compared to MIT. 

Regular home-based high-intensity or MIT sessions, supervised professionally, are recommended to stay physically active during such confinements. 

This approach is crucial for maintaining mental and physical health, especially when isolated. Incorporating these workouts at home can be a great strategy to manage stress and maintain overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: I’m new to HIIT; where do I start?

Start with shorter, low-intensity intervals and gradually increase the intensity and duration as you get stronger. Beginner-friendly exercises like squats, lunges, and high knees are perfect for your fitness goals. Incorporating it 2-3 times a week allows recovery and maximizes benefits.

Question 2: Will high-intensity interval training make me bulky?

No. It builds lean muscle, not bulk. You’ll get toned, sculpted, and ready to rock that bikini confidently. Speak with a certified trainer for personalized advice and guidance on your fitness goals.

Question 3: Is high-intensity interval training better than cardio for everyone?

Not necessarily. If you have injuries, health concerns, or are just starting, talk to your healthcare provider or a certified trainer before diving into this workout. Having a balanced routine, including HIIT and traditional cardio, is best.

Key Takeaways

  • For busy people like you, HIIT is a great option. It’s a quick, high-energy workout that can fit into a hectic schedule. It involves intense activities followed by rest, making it a fun and efficient way to stay fit and healthy.
  • Steady-state cardio, like jogging or dancing, is a moderate-intensity exercise that is great for maintaining heart health. High-intensity interval training, with its intense bursts of activity, suits a busy lifestyle but may be less enjoyable over time. Consider enjoyment and efficiency when choosing between steady-state cardio and HIIT for your fitness routine.
  • HIIT offers efficient workouts to burn calories and reduce body fat. At the same time, it improves heart health and muscle strength. It’s effective for enhancing mental wellness, too. While intense, shorter sessions still provide significant benefits, making it a suitable option for those with a busy lifestyle. 

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