HIIT – Best for busy people

The benefits and importance of exercise for your well-being have been well established, and yet you always find a justification for not exercising regularly.

One of the most common excuses is that you don’t have enough time for that. With a hectic schedule like yours, who has the time to travel to go to the gym and to  take a one-hour class and then travel back home? Well, if not having enough time is your excuse, then there’s one solution for you: HIIT.

What is HIIT?

HIIT or high-intensity interval training is a training technique in which you exert your 100% effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, which are then followed by short, sometimes active, recovery times. The workout can be as short as four minutes, but you really have to go hard. This may sound very challenging if not scary if you are a beginner, but you don’t have to worry. It can be as simple as walking but pushing yourself for an extra block and then returning to normal. Remember that high intensity training will be different for everyone, depending on your personal fitness level. For a beginner, it could be a brisk walk for few minutes. For someone fit and who exercises regularly can go for as long as 20-30 minutes without stopping. Simply do your best and remember that science has proven that when we feel like we can’t do anymore and we have to stop, we have only exhausted 30-40% of our muscles’ capacity. Our head is the one that gives up first as nature’s primary survival instinct is energy preservation.

Does HIIT sound too good to be true? Well, there are studies that support its effectiveness. One such study was led by Martin Gibala, professor of kinesiology at McMaster University. The objective of the study was to determine how sprint interval training compared to moderate-intensity continuous training. The results of the study showed that after 12 weeks of training, the results between the two types of training were remarkably similar. However, moderate-intensity training involved five times as much exercise and five times greater time and commitment. The team has previously suggested that sprint interval training, which involved a 2-minute warm-up and 3-minute cool down and 2 minutes of easy cycling for recovery between the hard sprints, can improve fitness. The workout only lasted 10 minutes in total.

Another study supporting the effectiveness of HIIT was published in 2013 in PLoS One. Its aim was to examine the minimum amount of exercise needed to experience acceptable health gain. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway developed a four-minute workout to be carried out at 90%of the subjects’ maximum heart rate. The subjects were 26 overweight and sedentary but healthy and mid-life men, who were divided into two groups. One group performed a 16-minute workout (four repetitions of the four-minute workout) thrice a week for 10 weeks. The other group, on the other hand, performed only a single four-minute HIIT- run thrice a week for 10 weeks. Both groups saw an increase in their endurance capacity by an average of 10% or more with no significant differences in the gains between the two groups. Both groups also showed better blood sugar control and blood pressure. This suggests that a four-minute workout can have the same positive effects as a 30-minute exercise.

Here more reasons for doing HIIT besidesbeing able
to save a lot of time.

You are more likely to stick to it.

When you enjoy doing something, you are more likely to do it for the long term. And, HIIT can indeed be more enjoyable, as suggested by a study published in PLoS One. It was found that individuals reported to have enjoyed HIIT much more than continuous vigorous-intensity exercise and continuous moderate-intensity exercise.

It can improve your endurance.

A 2014 study published in PLos One reported that a one-minute high intensity workout on a not-so-hard workout can boost your endurance and your overall health. This is measured through factors such as improved blood pressure of higher counts of mitochondria, helping fuel your body and brain.

It can help prevent obesity.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Obesity found that 12 weeks of HIIT can lead to significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat. It can also significantly increase fat-free mass and aerobic power.

Now that you have learned about HIIT, time should longer be an excuse for your not being able to exercise. Set aside 10 minutes of your time for HIIT at least three times a week, and see an improvement in your overall well-being in no time!


  • Gillen, J. B., Martin, B. J., Macinnis, M. J., Skelly, L. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Gibala, M. J. (2016). Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment [Abstract]. Plos One, 11(4). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27115137.
  • Tjønna, A. E., Leinan, I. M., Bartnes, A. T., Jenssen, B. M., Gibala, M. J., Winett, R. A., & Wisløff, U. (2013). Low- and High-Volume of Intensive Endurance Training Significantly Improves Maximal Oxygen Uptake after 10-Weeks of Training in Healthy Men. PLoS ONE, 8(5). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23734250.
  • Jung, M. E., Bourne, J. E., & Little, J. P. (2014). Where Does HIT Fit? An Examination of the Affective Response to High-Intensity Intervals in Comparison to Continuous Moderate- and Continuous Vigorous-Intensity Exercise in the Exercise Intensity-Affect Continuum [Abstract]. PLoS ONE, 9(12). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25486273.
  • Gillen, J. B., Percival, M. E., Skelly, L. E., Martin, B. J., Tan, R. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Gibala, M. J. (2014). Three Minutes of All-Out Intermittent Exercise per Week Increases Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity and Improves Cardiometabolic Health [Abstract]. PLoS ONE, 9(11). Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489
  • Heydari, M., Freund, J., & Boutcher, S. H. (2012). The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males [Abstract]. Journal of Obesity, 2012, 1-8. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2012/480467/.


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