7 benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

How can you make the most out of your training, both for your own workout and for your athletes? Well, it’s definitely not an easy feat, but we’ve got an extra card under our sleeve. You can do it with high intensity interval training. This type of exercise will bring improvement, in terms of performance, fat-burning, metabolism and many more aspects of your physical condition and stamina.

And if you’re not familiar with this type of exercise, let’s first explain it in a few words and then we can go through all of its blessings.

What is High Intensity Interval Training? 

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is any exercise that features extremely intensive, repeated bouts. Namely, greater than 85% of the maximum heart rate, interpreted by recovery periods. The main goal here — and the reason why this method exists — is that it allows the trainee to perform high-intensity repetitions, for a longer total duration. These are repetitions one wouldn’t be able to perform with a typical, continuous training method. 

And what’s more interesting regarding high intensity interval training, is that this well-known type of training is an effective method to help improve aerobic capacity, both for athletically inclined populations and populations that suffer from overweight and circulatory disease symptoms (among others), according to scientific researches (Helgerud et al. 2001, Seiler et al. 2013, Smilios et al. 2018).

The efficiency of interval training in enhancing a wide spectrum of aerobic power measures, possibly stems from the cumulative metabolic stress, as imposed during and by each training session, on the oxygen delivery (central) and oxygen utilization (peripheral) systems.

It may seem hard, but we’re confident you can do it! And you can use training software to get you there faster. You’ll be getting yourselves and your athletes at peak form in no time!

What are the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

Let’s put all the heavy science aside for a minute. And let’s focus on the benefits of high-intensity interval training, such as it is that athletes can enjoy!

1. Helps you get past your workout plateau

High intensity interval training improves maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), even for highly trained athletes. A common pain among coaches who’ve trained experienced athletes, is the plateau they will — sooner or later — come up against, with regard to their performance. High intensity interval training has been proven to enhance the VO2max, even for professional and highly trained athletes. And it’s one of the most valuable types of training sessions in a coach’s toolbox.

2. Improves the lactate/anaerobic threshold

The anaerobic threshold (AT) is a game-changer. At least, when it comes to endurance events with a duration of 30-180 minutes. High intensity interval training seems to be very effective in AT improvement and the velocity/power/speed co-variants corresponding to this threshold. According to Myrkos et al., 2019, a 3-week intervention involving 7 high intensity interval training workouts, will significantly enhance AT levels. 

3. Boosts aerobic performance 

It improves oxidative capacity and aerobic enzymes. Due to its nature, the high intensity interval training method places a significant amount of metabolic stress on muscle tissue. The effective adaptations happen over a wide spectrum of human physiology. Under a molecular scope, all this is explained via the aerobic enzymes. They are responsible for regulating the performance of the aerobic metabolism, increasing their activity and consequently improving the oxidative capacity. In other words, your aerobic performance is bound to get boosted, by a lot.

4. Helps you burn more calories

The intensity of any type of exercise is a factor of great importance, when it comes to high intensity interval training. And that’s because it requires a significant amount of energy consumption, to satisfy the needs of such “high” intensity. More specifically, a typical workout session usually burns 8-10kcal/min, whereas high intensity interval training boosts the burn rate to 15-20kcal/min.

We can use a modern analogy to understand how it works. Assuming you’ve driven a car, you’ll know that the more you push the throttle pedal on your car, the faster you’ll go. But, the faster you go, the more fuel you’ll burn. It’s really that simple.

5. A great metabolic booster

What would you say if I told you that, even while watching TV, you’ll burn more calories than you would with typical training, without high intensity interval training? Here’s how it works:

Following the completion of such a stressful workout, your system tries to restore all the physiological functions to your body, as it performed in the pre-exercise condition. And this, as expected, causes an excess of post-exercise oxygen consumption. A phenomenon, according to which your body consumes larger quantities of oxygen than it would normally do. As a result, you’ll burn more calories as you enjoy your favorite TV program 🙂 

6. Improves mental wellbeing 

Life is like a mirror, isn’t it? Whatever you give it, that’s what you’ll take back. The good news, here, is that this “fair dealing” applies to high intensity interval training sessions, too. 

Granted, it’s a very demanding method, which brings a lot of training stress on both the body and the mind. During the session, your heart rate will increase to very high levels. Your oxygen intake may feel inadequate. Plus, your mind will probably start begging you to go home and find a couch! This is the most pivotal moment of the session. You have to stay motivated and stick to your plan! Besides, that’s what pays off in the end. In essence, you need to stay your ground and win, in terms of mental strength and clarity. 

7. Time efficient 

It’s a common misconception that performance enhancement or similar goals, such as the reduction of body fat, requires all of your free time! That’s hardly the case.

You don’t need to train longer, but smarter. High intensity interval training can provide you with all these benefits in a 20-30min session. Believe it or not, it’s so time-efficient. However, due to the high metabolic and physiological stress it brings to the trainee, it requires systematic monitoring. But if you use it wisely, as an integral part of the training schedule, the gains will exceed the “pain”. It’s worth it!

But, wait a minute!

I know that you are almost at the door, ready to execute a high intensity interval training session; or scheduling one in your athletes’ calendar. And we do make it easy with our platform, at Endogusto.io. But be sure that you’ve taken the high stress that occurs during that session, into consideration. 

Now, whether you’re into running, cycling, swimming or anything in-between, this is still good advice. Especially if you’re up for a marathon or ironman race.

It’s getting complicated, right? Great news! A smart way to be sure that all has gone according to plan, once we’ve hit the market, is to consult with our best-in-class features, over at Endogusto.io. Besides, a periodization model to help you out wouldn’t harm, would it?

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  1. Helgerud, J, Engen, LC, Wisloff, U, and Hoff, J.
    Aerobic endurance training improves soccer performance.
    Med Sci Sports Exerc 33: 1925–1931, 2001. 
  2. Seiler, S, Joranson, K, Olesen, B, and Hetlelid, K.
    Adaptations to aerobic interval training: interactive effects of exercise intensity and total work duration.
    Scand J Med Sci Sports Exerc 23: 74–83, 2013. 
  3. Smilios, I, Myrkos, A, Zafeiridis, A, Toubekis, A, Spassis, A, and Tokmakidis, SP.
    The effects of recovery duration during high-intensity interval exercise on time spent at high rates of oxygen consumption, oxygen kinetics, and blood lactate.
    J Strength Cond Res 32(8): 2183–2189, 2018
  4. Aristides Myrkos, Ilias Smilios, Andreas Zafeiridis, Stilianos Iliopoulos, Eleni M.Kokkinou, Helen Douda, and Savvas P. Tokmakidis.
    Effects of Work and Recovery Duration and Their Ratio on Cardiorespiratory and Metabolic Responses During Aerobic Interval Exercise.
    Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 00(00)/1–7
7 benefits of High Intensity Interval Training was last modified: July 27th, 2022 by Aris Myrkos