High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training method that consists of high-intensity intervals in combination with slow regeneration phases. This interaction of stress and recovery phases ensures a measurable body fat reduction, which has since been documented by scientific studies. HIIT is a short and high-performance training system, but with its intensity can achieve even better results than a long and monotonous cardio training.

How does it work? HIIT?

Strength athletes and bodybuilders train almost always the well-known stationary cardio training for body fat burning. This training method consists of exercises and running movements that require the body to 60 to 70 percent of the maximum heart rate (MHR). Studies have shown that shorter and more intense workouts burn more fat than long and enduring cardio workouts. HIIT consists of such intense intervals that an MHR of up to 90 percent can be achieved so that the body has to reach its performance limit. In order for the body to regenerate, slow but active recovery intervals are incorporated into the training system.
HIIT - Studies

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For a scientific study at Laval University in Quebec, two groups were tested for a month-long training experiment. One group trained for 15 weeks with an individual HIIT training program, while the other group completed a 20-week stationary cardio program. At the end of the training programs, the results were as follows: Although the cardio group lost more calories, the HIIT group was able to burn considerably more body fat.

A similar finding emerged from a study by the East Tennessee State University in 2001. In this study, subjects lost 2 percent body fat after an eight-week HIIT program, while the cardio group also lost no body fat after eight weeks. A new study from Australia even found that a test group of women who completed a twenty-minute HIIT exercise program had lost six times more body fat than a cardio group who had simultaneously completed a 40-minute, constant-intensity running workout.

Further study results have shown that HIIT increases the metabolism in the individual muscle cells and thus supports fat burning and prevents further fat production. Furthermore, it could be shown that the muscle tendons of the HIIT test persons showed significantly more fat burning than the musculature of the stationary cardio training group.
A study published in 2007 by the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that several women exercising seven HIIT training sessions over a two-week period produced over 30 percent more new muscle enzymes.
What results does a HIIT training program bring?

If you compare HIIT with an even cardio workout for one hour each, then after 6 weeks the endurance parameter in HIIT training improved significantly more than with the cardio training method. A recent study from "The Journal of Physiology" found that subjects who completed 1 to 1.5 hours of HIIT training sessions per week achieved the same results as athletes who maintained consistent cardio training around 5 hours per week completed. It has thus been shown that a general endurance performance with a HIIT training can already be increased in 15-20 minutes, which corresponds to a 60-minute endurance training.

How do you train HIIT?

HIIT consists of a combination of short and very intense loads with several active regeneration phases. The intensive intervals should be trained at HIIT almost to the physical limit, so a break is really necessary. The length of the break is based on the principle of "rewarding break", which means that the break is only so long until you feel confident again to re-execute the previous load. HIIT was originally developed from an interval training session by Professor Izumi Tabata, who trained the Olympic sprinters with different interval units for a total of 4 minutes. The athletes had to train each 20 seconds ultra-intense to the power limit and regenerate in a 10 second break between the intensive phases. HIIT can be applied to running training, crosstrainer or cardio gymnastics at home. If you want to perform HIIT correctly and achieve the desired training success, then the intensive interval phases must always be carried out up to the physical exercise limit.

The HIIT training plan

You always start with a 10-minute warm-up, which consists of a constant, even shrinking. Then the actual HIIT training begins, which is adjusted weekly to the physical exercise limit.

Here is an example of a HIIT training plan that should be customized:

Week 1-2
30 seconds HIIT (Sprint), 60 seconds recovery (walking), total duration: 10 minutes (twice a week)

Week 3-4
30 seconds HIIT (Sprint), 60 seconds recovery (walking), total duration: 15 minutes (twice a week)

Week 5-12
30 seconds HIIT (Sprint), 60 seconds recovery (walking), total duration: 20 minutes (3 times a week)

Our tip for HIIT

You can also integrate HIIT intervals into strength training. With individual circuit training consisting of exercises such as squats, pushups, or kettlebells, perfectly high intensity intervals can be trained with regeneration phases.


More information about HIIT can be found in the following article:

The HIIT guide

SMIT vs. HIIT - The Battle of the Giants

HIIT: The ultimate 8-week exercise program

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