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What a HIIT!

Benefits of high intensity training

By Michael K Butler BA; PTA; CSCS*D; RSCC*D; NMT

In the fitness industry, the number of new programs claiming to help you shed those unwanted pounds is constantly increasing. One of the latest crazes is high intensity workouts designed to shed fat and build muscle. While these programs can be beneficial, one must be careful when choosing an exercise style since some are very aggressive and could cause injury if you aren’t ready for that type of program.

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is getting on the rowing machine and warming up for 3 minutes followed by bouts of intense 30 second bursts and then a 1-minute recovery. Doing this program cycle for 12 minutes is enough to kick start fat loss. A more aggressive approach is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes, then repeating the 3-minute interval 5 times for a 15-minute period. This is certainly a fat blasting workout.

HIIT training isn’t limited to just machines; you can jump in and do circuits of body weight exercises including, but not limited to, pushups, lunges, squats, or plyometric (jumping) drills. As long as you are moving intensely with some recovery time, it will work.

If you are an athlete, a popular HIIT workout is complex training, which involves doing 3 exercises in succession with no rest between exercises. The exercises most used are the clean followed by the squat and then a push jerk, each one of these exercises by themselves is physically demanding, but when done in succession they really stimulate human growth hormone.

HIIT training can deliver the following benefits:

  • It’s efficient, meaning it doesn’t require a lot of space or time to perform. So if you don’t like crowded gyms and have a tight schedule, this program is ideal for you.
  • It increases your metabolism by stimulating the production of human growth hormone up to 450% during the next 24 hours following the workout.
  • You can do this program anywhere – the beach, gym, garage, home, or park.
  • No equipment is necessary. If you have limited finances, don’t worry, all you need is your body and some floor space.
  • The best thing about the program is that you will lose weight, not muscle. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT training workouts allow you to preserve that hard-earned muscle while ensuring most of the weight loss comes from fat.

HIIT also has its cons which make it not suitable for a particular category of people involved in workouts or cardio training as the level of intensity involved makes it risky for people with medical constraints, including those with cardiovascular issues.

The bottom line…whatever type of training you decide to try, first get cleared by a physician and then give HIIT a try for fat loss and a healthier you!

Michael K. Butler is co-owner of Kinetix Health and Performance Center in Palm Desert. He holds a state license as a physical therapist assistant, national certifications of distinction through the NSCA as a strength and conditioning coach, Poliquin International state coach, and as a Full Body Active Release Techniques (ART) practitioner. (760) 200.1719 or at

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