The fitness industry is big on High-Intensity Interval Training, and for good reason. It burns fat, fast.
The humble half hour jog around the park might not be as glamorous, but it can still help you reach your fitness goals. So, should you be getting LIT?
HIIT - why all the hype?
High-Intensity Interval Training is all about working at maximum capacity in short bursts, followed by short, sometimes active recovery periods. This type of workout is designed to keep your heart rate up and burn more calories in less time.
HIIT has seen a surge in popularity because the rewards come quickly. The combination of high-intensity exercise and interval training results in Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (‘afterburn’) which gives your metabolism a boost for up to 48 hours afterwards, so you’re effectively burning fat even after you’ve left the gym.
On top of that, HIIT is quick and convenient. So even the busiest among us can get a super effective workout in just 30 minutes.
Does high-intensity always mean better?
In contrast to HIIT, Lower Intensity Training (LIT), or steady-state training, refers to cardiorespiratory exercise where your heart rate stays relatively constant for an extended period – usually anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. The workout may be low or moderate, but you should be able to sustain it for at least 20 minutes.
LIT can include activities like jogging, swimming, a stretching routine or yoga session.
Why you should consider LIT.
Even if you’re well into HIIT, it’s best to alternate with LIT sessions to avoid pushing your body into an overtrained, exhausted state.
LIT is also especially beneficial if:
You’re a newby
If you haven’t been especially active or haven’t done much formal exercise in a few months, you should ease back in with low to moderate sessions, gradually increasing the intensity and duration. When you can sustain 20 minutes of continual exercise, keep it up three to four times a week for at least a month before adding HIIT.
You’re injury prone
HIIT can place stress on connective tissues and muscles, potentially leading to acute inflammation. This can become chronic if you don’t give your body time to recover. For most people, more than two or three HIIT sessions per week can put them at risk of injury or overtraining. Alternating regularly between HIIT and LIT means you can still burn calories without burning out.
You’re training for an endurance event or sport
Your body will perform best at the activities you practice most. If you want to run a marathon, training should involve long, continuous runs that prepare not just cardiorespiratory system, but the connective tissues and your psyche too. For most sports and recreational activities, two bouts of equivalent LIT per week will give you the stamina to play better for longer.
You simply enjoy it more!
Pushing your body to the limit isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. It’s OK to prefer an easier-going workout. Over time you will still get the same health benefits you get from HIIT.
Virgin Active National Personal Training Manager, Alex Davies, says you need to discover what is best for you in order to reach your own specific health and wellbeing goals. His advice is to mix it up and have fun with it all.
"There are various training modalities that can, and will, accommodate all. If that means walking briskly in the park, jogging at a continuous steady state, or doing a 20-minute HIIT class with or without resistance, then that’s perfectly fine."
If it’s safe and effective and makes you feel good, it's gold.