If you’re already a fan of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or have heard the buzz surrounding it, you know that it’s a super fast, very effective way to work out. Basically, HIIT involves short, intense bursts of exercise with less intense moves or complete rest in between. Essentially, it’s crazy-efficient—which means you could be spending less time in the gym each week while still cashing in on all the fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, and heart-pounding benefits. If you’re still not convinced that HIIT is worth a try, read on for even more of its advantages.
Reason #1: It works a major muscle
That would be your heart. When you turn up the intensity on your workout, as high-intensity interval training does, you’re making your heart work harder. And since this muscle (like most) becomes stronger after putting it through tough training, this workout is very beneficial for your heart health. Plus, a study by the American Council on Exercise found that Tabata workouts (high-intensity interval training that consists of eight intervals performed in four minutes) effectively boost cardiovascular strength.
Reason #2: Strength Training and Cardio Workout in One
You might not think that it’s possible to squeeze a solid strength-training session and a calorie-torching cardio workout into a quick routine, but you would be wrong, says Metzl. With HIIT, you’re pushing yourself as hard as you can go to accomplish as many reps as possible. That butt busting earns you cardiovascular benefits. By incorporating strength-training exercises into your intervals (as well as cardio moves), you also reap muscle-strengthening benefits, he says.
Reason #3: You Can Tailor Your Training To Your Fitness Level
You don’t have to follow 30 seconds of an intense move using seriously heavy dumbbells with just 30 seconds of rest—that level would be something a highly trained exerciser would shoot for. If you’re not quite ready for that challenge, there are ways to tweak your work-to-rest ratio, as well as the moves you’re doing.
Reason #4: It Doesn’t Require a Gym
Eve Overland, Carrie Underwood’s tour trainer has said that she loves to bust out interval-training moves to help the country singer get in quick exercise sessions when she’s on the road (and therefore doesn’t have a fully stocked gym).
Reason #5: It Keeps Your Blood Sugar In Check
A new study published in the journal Diabetologia suggests that this kind of training can help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes better than continuous exercise.
Reason #6: It Cranks Up Your Metabolism
When you do a “sustainable” exercise, like going on a long run, your body uses less oxygen than when you push yourself to the max, as you do during HIIT. And when you work out to the point where it’s difficult to breathe (because your body is using more oxygen), your metabolism starts working at a higher level, which helps you burn more calories during your workout and after you exercise.
Reason #7: It Burns More Fat In Less Time
When your workout goes back and forth between high- and low-intensity activities, it improves your anaerobic and aerobic fitness, which helps you burn more fat in less time than longer endurance training.