How to use HIIT to Enhance your Workouts

PLN fitness coach reviews the benefit of HIIT training and how you can incorporate it into your fitness plan

Published March 30, 2023

6 minute read

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Briefing on High-Intensity Interval Training


The idea behind high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is that even relatively brief bursts of activity can have a significant and long-lasting effect on your body. In a nutshell, the duration of your exercises is less important than the intensity with which you complete them.

Interval training (or HIIT) consists of brief, high-intensity workouts followed by longer, less strenuous recoveries. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), HIIT entails:

Walking, running, and stair-climbing are all examples of endurance exercises that are typically done at a moderate intensity or an exertion level of 5 or 6 on a scale from 0 to 10. On the other hand, high-intensity intervals are performed at an effort level of 7 or greater and last anywhere from 8-10 seconds to 5 minutes; the shorter the intensity, the faster the speed interval. The rest periods are as lengthy as, or longer than, the sprints.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) for runners entails sprinting at or near your maximum speed for periods of 30-60 seconds. You walk for a similar amount of time to cool down after this nearly breathless (but certainly not winded) running. You could, for instance, repeat an uphill sprint followed by a downhill walk four times in succession.

There is no hard and fast rule for how often you should perform HIIT; however, it is recommended that you incorporate HIIT into your exercise regimen at least three times per week by alternating periods of high- and low-intensity activities. An 8-week HIIT program resulted in substantial muscle gain and fat loss in the abdominal region in men, according to a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

Interval training is a key component of HIIT. It can be applied to a wide variety of exercises, from interval running to explosive swimming laps to your twice-weekly kettlebell practice. This means you can always switch up your practice to prevent boredom and keep working toward your ideal body composition.

The Effects of HIIT on Fat Mass

Let's examine how HIIT affects fat storage.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is superior to other forms of exercise for reducing body weight. According to research, HIIT exercises are effective at reducing both abdominal (fat mass around the organs) and subcutaneous (fat under the skin) fat, both of which contribute to an unattractive midsection.

In another experiment, those who exercised intensely for three days a week were compared to those who worked out moderately for five days a week. High-intensity exercise three days per week resulted in greater weight loss than low-intensity steady-state exercise after 16 weeks, according to the study's authors.


If you're not seeing consistent results in reducing your body fat percentage (especially that stubborn belly fat) despite your normal workout regimen, HIIT may be the answer.

Rapid Muscle Loss After HIIT

Consider the results of a study from last year that appeared in the Journal of Diabetes Research concerning the potential benefits of HIIT for increasing lean body mass.

The benefits of five weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) on cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and blood glucose were compared in young, overweight women.

Using a cycle ergometer, the HIIT group cycled at 90% of their maximum heart rate for 8 seconds at a time, followed by 12 seconds of recovery. This was repeated 60 times over the course of 20 minutes. The MICT group, meanwhile, cycled continuously for 40 minutes at 65% of peak oxygen intake.

Researchers came to the following conclusions regarding shifts in lean body mass:

Here is what we can infer from the study's results:

It's possible that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) isn't the best way to gain muscular leanness

However, HIIT can aid in the preservation or retention of lean muscle mass, whereas MICT may lead to the loss of lean muscle mass if fat loss is the primary goal.

Among the many positive effects of HIIT is a rise in the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle fibers.

What's the big deal here? You can attribute much of your power and quickness to your fast twitch fibers. Not only are they crucial to maintain through practice, but they become increasingly at risk of atrophy the longer they go unused. You can see how vital it is to build muscle when you're young if you want to keep your power and speed (reflexes) as you get older.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may not be as good for gaining muscle as other methods, but it could help you get in shape.  On the other hand, if bulking up is your top priority, then bodybuilding or weight training might be your best option. A comparison is made between bodybuilding and high-intensity interval training to enhance body structure. It's also worth noting that you can use both of these strategies together to get your body makeup where you want it to be.

What's more, HIIT Has Other Advantages

In addition to assisting in fat mass reduction, HIIT offers the following advantages:

  • Aerobic endurance can be improved by practicing the same exercise at a faster pace, but short, intense bursts of exercise may be more beneficial. This can improve your ability to use oxygen during activity.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you achieve your fitness goals in less time. According to this research, HIIT can produce the same cardiovascular benefits as longer forms of endurance exercise in as little as a few minutes.

Recent studies released in April came to the conclusion that HIIT helps people with type 2 diabetes improve their muscle glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

High-intensity interval training is preferred to longer sessions of moderate-effort cardio. According to these results, HIIT is more likely to inspire long-term fitness commitment than other types of workouts.

An afterburn effect research conducted in 2015 found that HIIT (along with weight training) outperformed regular cardio for up to 21 hours after exercise. The greater the oxygen demand for metabolic restoration, the greater the calorie expenditure. This implies that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can increase calorie expenditure for up to a day after exercise.

Maximizing Your High-Intensity Interval Training

Different forms of HIIT, such as the Tabata regimen and turbulence training, can help you reach and keep your ideal body composition. Furthermore, HIIT can be utilized in any exercise program or environment. You can do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with Pilates, manual exercises, or CrossFit.

You can get the most out of your HIIT exercise, regardless of the workout plan or HIIT technique you choose, by following these guidelines.


  • Don't jump right into explosive, high-intensity movements without first warming up.
  • Aim for at least six sets of three-to-five-minute periods. A systematic review of studies on the most successful HIIT protocols found that this interval provided long-term sustainable outcomes.
  • Alternate your HIIT sessions with something else, like yoga or trail jogging, to keep things interesting.
  • Use as many of your muscle units as possible. More calories can be burned if more muscular groups are used.
  • Listen to your body for signals about how hard you're working. In the midst of a HIIT workout, for instance, you should be able to say individual words but not full sentences. If you're still chit-chatting with your gym buddies between sets and you want to see results, you might want to up the ante a bit.
  • Eat healthily and in moderation. Without paying attention to your diet and nutritional requirements, even the most effective HIIT routine will be in vain.

You should talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before starting HIIT if you have any preexisting health conditions.

Being Consistent Is Crucial

The best results from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) come from regular practice. These quick interval workouts are easy to fit into your day, even if you only have a few free minutes.

In lieu of spending 30 minutes on your preferred social media platform, how about engaging in some HIIT instead? Maybe you and your coworkers can squeeze in some repetitions during lunch.

Incorporate HIIT into your workout routine the next time you feel like working out is a chore or a job you need to check off your to-do list. You may not realize it, but a short, enjoyable HIIT session could be the key to (finally!) resolving your present body composition issues.











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