HIIT Explained

What Is HIIT Training?

High-intensity interval training is the larger brother to aerobic cardio.

Instead of running 30 minutes on a treadmill, you’ll be an alternate between intense effort and recovery.

This “up and down” cardio style can help you burn more calories. But this is only one benefit of HIIT. You can arrange it in many ways to increase fat loss, endurance, or even improve your sporting performance.

Over 30 years of research has shown the benefits and pitfalls of HIIT. We will take a look at the best research to help you create a HIIT program that works for you.

Is HIIT Really 30 Years Old?


Although it was popularized in the 2000s, it has been around for decades. Sylvester STALLONE famously used it to prepare for Rambo III 1988. The first scientific studies on HIIT date back to 1985.

However, it didn’t catch on with gym-goers at the time and was dismissed as a fad.

In early 1992, elite swimmers and sprinters talked about how they were incorporating it into their training for Olympic Games.

It failed to gain any momentum again. It was at these Games that coaches discussed the use of creatine monohydrates. This supplement took all the media attention and has gone on to be the most popular bodybuilding supplement ever.

It would be another 10 years before HIIT became popular.

Does HIIT Burn More Calories Than Regular Cardio?

Yes, it does.

Although it took a while for this to become a common belief, most top coaches around the world now believe HIIT is better than aerobic cardio in terms of burning fat and maintaining lean muscle mass.

What kind of difference is this? Research shows that improvements can be made of between 50-60%.

Let’s take a look at the science.

A 1994 study by researchers from Laval University in Quebec, was the first to reveal shocking facts about HIIT’s effectiveness. The study examined the effects of HIIT on fat loss in trainees who did bursts versus steady-state cardio and presented their results to Metabolism Journal.

The HIIT group lost 9 times as much fat (not a typo).

Even more remarkable is the fact the HIIT group trained for shorter periods of time and less often.

HIIT To Fat Loss

Let’s suppose you are doing HIIT to lose fat. What is the best way to structure your workout?

My opinion is that Dr. Peter Lemon and his team from the University of Ontario in 2011 conducted the most thorough and comprehensive study of HIIT to fat loss.

Participants were able to double their normal calorie burn when using the following set-up:

  • Six Rounds of 30-second bursts.
  • Between each burst, there is a four-minute recovery period.
  • Total training time is 36 minutes

This study revealed interesting facts about the importance of the recovery period between each burst. Although four minutes may seem long, the researchers found that this was crucial to the success of their study. It allowed trainees to fully recover and ensured that they were able to perform each HIIT burst at maximum output.

Heart rate manipulation is a key component of a successful HIIT program (for fat loss purposes at minimum). It is important to increase heart rate during each burst and then allow it to return to normal before we move on to the next. This will take different amounts of time depending on how to fit you are, but you get the point.

How many times have there been people at the gym who are trying to do 30 seconds more, 30 seconds less, and complaining about not getting results? You now know the reason.

This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of the best personal trainer in Tampa, one-on-one training, small group classes, and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training, and body goals!


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