HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is a form of cardiovascular training with short intervals of anaerobic exercise and increasingly lesser recovery period. HIIT helps burn a high number of calories in a very short period of time and is an important part of fat loss regimes as well as for athletic sessions. Though HIIT is not a very new concept, there are still many myths revolving among fitness amateurs. So today we try to debunk seven most common myths related to HIIT.
Myth: HIIT and Cardio are the same
While both of them involve following the same basic rule, i.e., to keep the heart-beat elevated during the entire workout, the workout session is made keeping many different aspects in mind.
HIIT may involve a variety of exercises like burpees, push-ups, squats, etc. with different variations done at maximum effort for a fixed time interval with a specific set rest time. The time interval is set to provide maximum workout time with decreasing rest time. During the workout, the active heartbeat is kept at 90-95% rate with rest heart-beat at 40-45%. At this rate, the exercise is more of an anaerobic type.
Cardio, on the other hand, involves a prolonged period of the elevated heartbeat with almost no rest period, done at an intermediate intensity. The main aim is to keep the heartbeat up and going with the exercise being mostly aerobic. Exercises can include jogging, burpees, etc.
The basic workout regime differs in rest periods and aerobic/anaerobic workout. If your aim is loose fat with muscle building, HIIT is the best option.
Myth: HIIT is better than steady-state cardio
This is a common notion that an intense HIIT session is more effective than steady-state cardio. It is not entirely true because the type of workout depends on your fitness goals. If you are aiming for fat loss, HIIT would definitely be the better option. Steady state cardio is done to maintain a heart rate up to 65-70% and is aimed at improving heart and lung health, as well as improve blood circulation and overall health. So design your work out depending on your health goals.
Myth: HIIT is enough
As much as HIIT seems to work, it is not enough if you want to lose fat as well as gain muscles. As the name suggests, HIIT is intended to work on shredding fat and losing calories. HIIT workouts help by increasing the metabolism of the body, but you have to include weight training in your session if you want to strengthen the muscle. Take it like adding more fuel in your tank if you want to go for a long distance, but if you want to carry the biggest load for the same distance, you have to have a bigger engine with more horsepower. So HIIT is for distance (fat loss) and weight training is for more horsepower (muscle).
Myth: Age is not a bar
While the name might not give you a feel of what strenuous sessions this might be, HIIT is not a walk in the park. While there is always a beginner level, it’s like going for a short marathon knowing that you cannot even run for a mile. So, if you are a total novice, or if you are restarting after a long gap, it is advised to build up your stamina for a couple of days with normal to intermediate cardio sessions before going for a full-fledged HIIT session. Consider it as a pre-HIIT warm-up session lasting for days instead of minutes.
Myth: The longer, the better
It is a common myth that doing more cardio can help burn more calories and hence more fat. While the former might be true to a certain extent, the latter is a total assumption. A prolonged period of cardio has shown to use some of your stored energy reserves and then turn to breakdown your hard-built muscles to supply energy. As for HIIT, it is a common saying that if you are doing HIIT for more than 3 times a week, you aren’t doing it right. A proper HIIT session, if done right, is too gruesome and takes a heavy toll on the energy reserves of the body and you need to take a good rest of at least one day before your next session. Also, there is a concept of EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) which states that after an intense anaerobic exercise session, the body keeps oxygen to remove all lactic acid build up in the muscles. This process requires energy which is made available by burning fat and finally boosting metabolism. Therefore, keep the session short, intense and take proper rest for maximum benefit.
Myth: Any exercise can be included
HIIT is aimed at burning calories and rep up the heart, but the exercises chosen for that has a huge impact on the result. Try not to stick with the same set of repetitive exercises like push ups, sit ups, etc. Try to include more compound exercises that involve the whole body like burpees, bear crawls, squats, circuit training etc. Mix your sessions up, design new circuits and keep it interesting.
Myth: HIIT alone is sufficient for fat loss
Muscles are built in the kitchen, not in the gym. What you eat has probably more effect on your fat content as compared to how much you sweat out in the gym. So, make sure you analyze what you eat, count the calories you consume, and keep it a balanced diet. Break your 3-big-meals in five smaller ones so that you never feel full yet have a constant energy supply.
HIIT is a very efficient fat loss and stamina building regime, as well as quite an efficient test for one’s fitness level. Just make sure you have your facts as well as planning right so that you can reap maximum benefits.