Top 10 benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

Working out in the gym has become more and more popular, because of its many perks over joining a single sports club. No matter if your aim to lose weight, build muscle, get stronger, increase stamina, stay in shape, or simply interact with other people, while implementing a healthy behavior, a nice workout at the gym gets you covered. Gym trainings are also essential for different athletes, since strength and conditioning plays a fundamental part in their performance. But whatever your goal and level of experience is, there is always a room for improvement and experimenting. Maybe you are looking for a new way to boost your workout, or you want to spend less time at the gym, but still receive outstanding results? This is when it’s time to give the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) a chance.

As the name suggests, HIIT is an interval form of training alternating a high intensity periods of performing, where between 80% and 90% of the maximum performance capacity is used, followed by resting or less intense working periods, between 20% and 50% of the maximum capacity. There is no universal HIIT duration, it usually lasts no longer than 15 to 30 minutes for beginner and intermediate enthusiasts, and up to around 40 minutes for more advanced athletes. The frequency of training, years of experience, age, diet, sleep and many other environmental factors should always be considered, when constructing your own, personal HIIT scheme, but here is a brief example of how it should look like.

Let’s say that you want to do a Sprint HIIT session that consists 18 rounds.  After a proper warm up, you should sprint for 20 seconds and jog for 40 seconds to finish your first round. 17 more rounds must follow to complete the workout and depending on your goals and fitness level, you can decide to have a few minutes of actual rest between each 4th/6th round. Another option could be to sprint for 25 seconds, rest for 35 seconds and repeat for17 more times. This way additional rest between the rounds wouldn’t be needed. Instead of sprints, there might be almost any other exercise. Aerobic exercises like burpees, jumping squats, jumping rope, or resistance/bodyweight exercises like deadlift, power clean, pushups, pull ups, snatch are all great options. Anything that can be performed relatively fast, while not cheating on the right technique, is suitable.

The benefits of HIIT are countless and the more you do it, the more advantages you notice, but here are the top 10 reasons why you should include HIIT in your training schedule:

  1. Aerobic fitness: According to studies in clinical population (1), (2), significant improvements of markers of muscle mitochondrial content have been shown after a HIIT, and there is a strong effect of HIIT improving VO 2max (amount of oxygen your body can absorb in a minute) after only two weeks. This is faster and to a greater extent than moderate-intensity training.
  2. Metabolic health: Research show that practicing HIIT can improve insulin sensitivity and is more beneficial for glucose control than average trainings. (3) High insulin sensitivity is essential for the cells of the body, to use blood glucose more effectively and reduce blood sugar.
  3. Vascular health: Research studies display better endothelial function after HIIT when compared to continuous exercise. The proper function of the endothelial cells ensures efficient blood flow distribution, protects cardiovascular function and health, and improves the elasticity of arterial blood vessels. (4), (5)
  4. Higher metabolic rate for hours after the exercise: One of the most impressive things about HIIT is its ability to increase your metabolic rate for hours after the training, due to its intensity. This leads to burning a lot more calories for up to 24 hours after the workout.
  5. Healthy cortisol levels during a workout: Exercise is perceived by the body as a form of stress and stimulates the release of cortisol. Short term increases in cortisol help the body repair, adapt and grow stronger. Long term increases in cortisol can cause exhaustion, joint pain, and mood disturbance. Too long workouts might lead to not losing weight, slowing down progress and breaking down muscle tissue. Workouts under 40 minutes are usually associated with a healthy, short-term increase in cortisol that we can benefit from.
  6. Burns more calories: A study was conducted to find out which form of exercise would burn more calories in 30 minutes: HIIT, weight training, running, or biking. The HIIT repetition consisted of 20 seconds of high-intensity effort, followed by 40 seconds of rest, which means that the HIIT participants were actually exercising only 1/3 of the time. Still, the researchers found that HIIT burned between 25-30% more calories than the other groups. (6)
  7. Prevents cognitive decline: Queensland study found out that intensive interval exercise is more effective in increasing brain blood flow in older adults, than continuous training. As we age, the flow of blood to the brain decreases, and this is linked as a risk factor for cognitive decline. Increasing blood flow to the brain is vital for older people. (7)
  8. Expands your limits: It is much easier to trick your mind and push yourself on each interval, knowing that the rest is coming very soon. You are the one responsible for your performance in the gym, and while it is often very difficult to keep pushing yourself for a longer period, and improve your time on a 5km run, giving the best you got for 20 seconds of a sprint doesn’t seem that hard, and you are not looking for any excuses to slow down.
  9. Variety: HIIT is a type of workout that can be performed in countless different ways. It could include aerobic, bodyweight, resistance exercises, or you can mix it up. For example, you can have 8 rounds of pull ups for 25 seconds, followed by 35 seconds of rest, and 6 rounds of 50 seconds rowing on the machine, followed by 70 seconds of performing bodyweight squats as an active rest. This is a very intensive full body workout, with a focus on the back muscles, and it would only take 20 minutes to complete.
  10. Easier to stick to: Last, but not least, HIIT is an easy methodology of training to follow. It fits well in the lifestyle of a very busy person, because even three workouts per week would be enough to experience its long-term benefits. Intensive interval trainings are also very time efficient, which makes it possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle, without leaving our responsibilities and social life behind.

High intensity interval trainings definitely deserve a place in every athlete’s and sports lover’s workout plan. No matter if you decide to do it alone, in a group training with some friends, or attend a gym class, HIIT will never bore you. The combinations possible are countless and it can definitely boost your endurance, overall health and fitness. Give it a try next time when you are up for a workout that will leave you almost breathless, but satisfied and proud of your new accomplishment.

Stay tuned because full workouts to follow are coming soon, and if you are from Plano or Allen, you can even visit us and join our fitness class at [Hidden Gym]!

Key words: Allen, Plano, Hidden Gym, Gym Class, Group Training, Fitness Class, HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training


  1. Guiraud T, Nigam A, Gremeaux V, Meyer P, Juneau M, Bosquet L. High-intensity interval training in cardiac rehabilitation. Sports Med. 2012; 42: 587–605.
  2. Wisloff U, Ellingsen O, Kemi OJ. High-intensity interval training to maximize cardiac benefits of exercise training? Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2009; 37: 139–46.
  3. Lollgen H, Bockenhoff A, Knapp G. Physical activity and all-cause mortality: an updated meta-analysis with different intensity categories. Int J Sports Med. 2009; 30: 213–24.
  4. Guiraud T, Nigam A, Gremeaux V, Meyer P, Juneau M, Bosquet L. High-intensity interval training in cardiac rehabilitation. Sports Med. 2012; 42: 587–605.
  5. Wisloff U, Ellingsen O, Kemi OJ. High-intensity interval training to maximize cardiac benefits of exercise training? Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2009; 37: 139–46.
  6. J strength Cond Res. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men.2015
  7. Timo Klein et al. Cerebral Blood Flow during Interval and Continuous Exercise in Young and Old Men, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2019