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The busy modern lifestyle means that many people do not have the time to spend hours doing physical activity. An innovative new training technique called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) claims to solve this problem. People who are new to working out in the gym may have heard others mention HIIT as a great way to lose weight and get ripped while only spending a half hour or so exercising. Does it really work? Here are some important things all beginners need to know about HIIT.

What Is High-Intensity Interval Training?

Before getting further into the details about HIIT, it is important to define what it actually is. Just adding one or two light sprints to a run is not enough to count as HIIT. People are only participating in HIIT when they alternate between light exercise and periods of 100% exertion. There are all types of cardio that can count as HIIT, including running, pushups, and even some types of weightlifting.

Does High-Intensity Interval Training Really Work?

HIIT might seem like it is too good to be true, but science does back the idea that it can truly help. A 2016 HIIT study compared participants who did a traditional 45-minute moderate intensity workout with people doing 10 minutes total of exercise with three 20 second intense training intervals. Both subjects had roughly the same increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle growth, and insulin sensitivity.

How Do People Incorporate Interval Training Into Workouts?

Interval training can be effective, but it needs to be done properly. The key to truly effective HIIT is that people need to go as hard as they can during their intervals of more intense training. For example, during a run a person would have to sprint so hard they are exhausted after just a few seconds. A simple quick jog would not be enough to provide the benefits of HIIT. HIIT for runners is as simple as starting a routine with a minute of slow walking, two minutes of jogging, and a half minute of sprinting. For weightlifters, it may involve doing one set at a person’s maximum weight and a few sets at a much lower weight.