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March 2017
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High Intensity Interval Training is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training, a training method which is a form of Interval Training that involves alternating between short yet intense periods of activity and equally as short rest periods in which gentle exercise is done.
The main principle of H.I.I.T. is the duration: one training session can only last from 4-20 minutes. A session is made up of a warm-up period, followed by 6-10 repetitions of high intensity exercises and between each exercise there is a recovery period (for the original protocol, the ratio for exercises to recovery period was 2:1). Lastly, there is a cool down phase which is normally as long as the warm-up. The number of repetitions, duration and recovery periods are all variable, as are other features of H.I.I.T. depending on the level of training required.
Since this activity disrupts all the certainties that training and common beliefs about exercise are based on, it is obvious that there is still some hesitancy surrounding this method, which many people only consider to be an advertising tool and trick that guarantees results in a short time. However, there are numerous studies that prove how efficient H.I.I.T. is. One study that truly stands out is that of Dr. Izumi Tabata, from the National Institute of Fitness and Sport in Tokyo, who, at the end of the 1990s, proposed a protocol of 20 seconds of very intense training alternated with 10 seconds of recovery, repeated 8 times for a total of just 4 minutes. There is also the work carried out in 2006 by Prof. Matin Gibala from the Department of Kinesiology of McMaster University in Canada, in which it was shown that doing 2.5 hours of H.I.I.T. is equal to 10.5 hours resistance training, in terms of parameters such as the production of biochemical changes in muscles and the level of improvement of aerobic performance. Other studies have shown that H.I.I.T. training is able to increase the basal metabolic rate for the 24 hours following a training session thanks to what is known as the EPOC concept (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which is the result of a series of biochemical processes (including the resynthesis of ATP, creatine phosphate, glucose and glycogen lactic acid, oxygenation of lactic acid from pyruvic acid, thermoregulation processes and so on) which only take place if enough oxygen is taken in at the end of training (which increases oxygen consumption after training).

H.I.I.T. training increases the time the body needs to restore its physiological balance, therefore, even though the session only lasts for a short time, calorie consumption is higher than a normal resistance training session.
H.I.I.T. also provokes certain metabolic changes, including improving the action of insulin, which allows the body to use fats as a fuel to produce the energy needed to carry out the exercise, and, in turn, this can help the trainee lose weight. Furthermore, since this method involves both moments of aerobic and anaerobic (the intense periods) activity, it prevents muscle loss, which is often associated with classic resistance training.
What really makes H.I.T.T. special though, compared to other types of Interval Training, as well as the time factor of course, is that the individual should work as hard as physically possible during the high intensity interval (which is why it is also called Interval Training Sprint) and not just with a higher heart rate than in the previous set. Doing this, however, means that a person cannot exert maximum effort for more than 60 seconds and the exercises carried out to reach such heart rates must involve as many large muscle groups as possible.
The best exercises to do during the high intensity periods are sprinting or sprint cycling, thus it is impossible for an interval to last more than 30-60 seconds. Likewise, it is impossible reach the necessary peaks of intensity by doing free weight exercises such as weightlifting, push-ups, sits ups, squats and so on, but these types of exercises can be used during the recovery periods.

H.I.I.T. should not be done every day since there should be one day’s rest between each session so the body can rebalance itself and, consequently, perform better the next time.

In order to obtain good results, and especially if you have not done any sporting activity for some time, you should start H.I.I.T. gradually; an introductory programme lasting 8 weeks is advised.
Once you have overcome all of the natural prejudices of this training technique, you will realise how simple it is: it does not require any special equipment and it can be practised anywhere. Jumping, running, swimming and pedalling are all suitable activities as long as you are able to do them as fast as possible (but still doing it correctly).
Before taking up H.I.I.T., it is always a good idea to undergo an accurate, medical sports check-up that involves doing an echocardiography whilst exercising to exclude any heart conditions.


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