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Is the Short HIIT Workout Too Good to be True?

March 24, 2016 by HealthyFamiliesBC

High Intensity Interval Training HIIT

Short, intense workouts of about five-10 minutes are becoming more popular. This type of training is known as high intensity interval training (HIIT). While it’s all the rage right now, the idea of interval training is nothing new. As a matter of fact, Swedish runners have been using a type of interval training called Fartlek (literal translation: speed-play) as part of their training since the 1930’s.

Why are they a big HIIT?

The premises of HIIT are:

    1. by working out at a high intensity for a shorter period you gain the same or similar benefits to when you work out at a lower intensity over a longer session
    2. your metabolism remains elevated afterwards, which is sometimes called EPOC

So you want to HIIT some intervals, now what?

If you are new to exercise or have not been physically active for one-two months, prepare by working your way up to at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity for about four weeks. If you have a chronic health condition (like diabetes or heart disease), talk with an exercise physiologist or doctor first.

Are short HIIT workouts really that short?

Because HIIT is a near-maximal effort, a warm-up is crucial. Warming-up for 10-15 minutes increases your heart rate, raises your body temperature, and sends more blood to your muscles. This prepares you for exercise and decreases the risk of injury. Cooling down 10-15 minutes afterwards brings your body back to its resting state. The higher the workout intensity, the more important the warm-up and cool down. So with HIIT, you’re really looking at a 30-45 minute session (10-15 minute warm-up, five-10 minute session, 10-15 minute cool down), which in the grand scheme of things aligns with the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

All this being said, if you find yourself swamped at work, have family commitments, or Murphy’s law is against you that day, a brisk five-10 minute walk will still give you health benefits and can do wonders to refresh the mind.

Related blogs

Top Five Fitness Myths
3 Misunderstood Facts about Fitness
Are Functional Fitness Workouts for You?

Recommended resources

American College of Sports Medicine: High Intensity Interval Training



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