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What is HIIT and why does it work?

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Fitness enthusiasts who’re looking for effective ways to get shredded should know about the term ‘HIIT’, also known as High Intensity Interval Training. For most people who are unfamiliar with HIIT, they commonly associate it with panting, sweating along with unfathomable amount of burpees.
Perhaps, you’ve heard that HIIT has to do with performing intense movements, short breaks and breaking an insane amount of sweat. But the truth of the matter is that HIIT is so much more than that.

Yes, there is an element of high intensity as well as of interval training but having said that, most people never perform HIIT workouts correctly. At the end of the day, they might not even get a single HIIT workout in, even though they thought they did. So to clear out the confusion, here is what HIIT truly looks like.

High intensity interval training or HIIT is a very specific type of training technique where you give everything you have during short but fierce spurts of exercise. The bursts are alternated with short and occasionally active periods of recovery as opposed to standing still.
This kind of intense training raises and keeps the heart rate up while burning deep into your fat deposits in less time. You can also get the same benefit when you go for a long run by keeping your heart rate up, also known as Moderate Intensity Steady State Cardio (MISS Training). However, the two are very different, as the results produced vary significantly.

The goal of HIIT is not only to raise your heart rate up and making sure that you perform your training at maximum intensity. And to truly reap the benefits of HIIT, you have to push your efforts to the limit during every burst by keeping your EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) high.
This is also why each burst is short, ranging anywhere between 20-90 seconds because even this much time is a lot when you kick the intensity level up to the max.
This key difference separates HIIT from both high intensity and interval training when done on their own. Research shows that all exercise promotes fat burn by burning calories but exercise performed at a higher intensity creates the after-burn effect that burns more calories over time. That is exactly why HIIT is such a hit.

When compared to other types of cardio, HIIT has also been seen to be a more effective means of getting incredibly shredded fast. It is a workout that is beneficial on multiple fronts since it uses both body weight and added weight that not only spike up the heart rate but also tone muscles.
The other thing that makes HIIT work is the element of rest. The training is comprised of intense bursts of activity followed by active recovery, this is where the element of rest comes in. Resting between each set is an essential part of the workout because if you do not take enough time to recover, you will not be able to push yourself to the limit on the next burst.

Since you are performing at an intense level, you are forcing your body to perform something it is neither used to nor comfortable with. Only by pushing through the limits your muscles demand growth. This explains why HIIT can not only burn fat, but also help you retain muscle mass or even grow in mass – In fact, you won’t find this benefit by performing long hours of traditional cardio sessions.
To put it simply, HIIT can help you shred body fat, staying lean, improve endurance while adding more muscle mass.