HIIT: What it is, Benefits, How and When to Do It

In this article I will focus HIIT on running, although somehow there is controversy over what is considered hiit and what is not….

Do you want to win the war-against-fats?

If the answer is yes, then your option may be “high intensity cardio”

You are about to discover a training system, not suitable for “latecomers” who can become a lethal tool to improve body composition .

Also, it has the quality of creating addiction , if you start training, of course …

What is Hiit?

HIIT are the initials “High Intensity Interval Training ”, that is, Allenam High Intensity Intervals .

A training system based on short but very intense aerobic routines, with incomplete recoveries.

Don’t confuse HIIT with…

  • HIT (“High Intensity Training”) or High Intensity Training is a workout that became popular in the 1970s, but was aimed at bodybuilding and increasing muscle mass.
  • HICT (“High Intensity Circuit Training”) or High Intensity Circuit Training. It is similar to Hiit, but includes elements to add additional intensity, such as kettlebells, barbells or dumbbells …

Che cosa è il HIIT?

Efforts of maximum intensity, for a short moment … do you want to try?

How does Hiit work?

It is based on the compression of our energy capacity on the phosphagen system and on the lactic glycolytic system

For these ways our body resorts to efforts of maximum intensity or greater and with a very short duration

The hiit places great emphasis on these systems , intervening on the metabolism, which in the long term will favor sports performance: efforts that exceed 90 % of VO2MAX promote hormonal release (growth hormone, testosterone, catecholamines, endorphins …)

Come funziona il HIIT

If you want to know more about How energy systems work , click here

Benefits of Hiit

Basically, hiit means performing exercises to high intensity . The benefits we will get from this training are:

  • Improve VO2MAX , which is one of the better predictive indicators of health, particularly in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
  • Increase Insulin Sensitivity , muscle tissues will be increasingly receptive to glucose entry and control, which will thus avoid accumulating in the adipocyte
  • Fat loss , obviously, in correlation with an adequate diet, but in general terms the increase in metabolism and calorie expenditure is accentuated and the mobilization and use of substrates (fatty acids and glycogen) are optimized.
  • Maintenance of Muscle Mass , short and intense routines, with a high hormonal impact
  • Mitochondrial density, the “furnaces of the body” where cellular energy (ATP) is produced. Generating more of these small cellular organs will promote greater oxygen-consuming capacity
  • More in less time , the duration of labor can be equated to nearly three times that of a job much less intense, such as moderate intensity exercise (MIIS)

Benefizi dell´HIIT

Pleasant, fun and motivating , as it contrasts long sessions with other types of “cardio”

Why do Hiit?

Benefits of high intensity

What do you think separates those who perform well from those who have not observed significant changes for so long time? high intensity . Both weight training and hiit have an effect on stress hormones.

Adaptation principle

This concept is part of the adaptation process of your body . As you increase your hiit sessions, you will become more and more experienced and surely, what previously cost you so much, will shrink …

Both activities generate a scenario where the body is forced to react to this adversity : oxygen deficiency for the tissues, thermogenesis, reduced fuel reserves, dehydration, low blood glucose and will cause tissue damage, such as protein breakdown

Body-mind connection

The body-mind connection will be strengthened by these workouts , the ability to suffer will give way to an increase in our physical potential, we will position ourselves away from the majority, we will carry out a very demanding and exhaustive activity.

The subject must be physically and mentally ready, to reach the maximum level.

HIIT una forma di cardio

This is the main reason why people are reluctant to this type of training.


One of the advantages of Hiit is efficiency when it comes to losing fat, avoiding long hours of cardio, although these may have other objectives …

The achievement, through sub-maximal efforts, values ​​close to 100 % of VO2MAX , produces consequences for the organism: it promotes more rapidly the use of stored glycogen, the oxidation of the highest fatty acids after exercise, the increase in the speed of metabolic and hormonal peaks involved in combustion of fat…

If you want to find out more about ‘ EPOC or Post-Combustion Effect , click here


Hiit per Efficiency

In this case the efficiency could be considered in terms of power

Unlike a long distance runner whose goal is to maintain intensity over a long distance, in hiit we look for exactly the opposite: maximum intensity for a short time of time .

HIIT rendimento

How to execute Hiit?

The intensity of the exercise is inversely proportional to its duration

The more experienced we are, in a sense , the longer we will be able to maintain the intensity of the exercise for a long time, even if it should be very high …

If you want to find out What happens to your body in the initial moments of training? , click here

Whenever we perform a Hiit or High Intensity workout, it is highly recommended to follow this 3-phase scheme :


Phase 1 or Warm-up

It is the entry of heat or warm-up , passing from a “rest mode” to gradually activating the body , increasing the pulse, the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, body temperature. We will also avoid possible injuries such as muscle tears.

A simple warm-up would consist of starting to walk and then moving on to running and also after finishing “tightening” the pace a little until you walk again and wait to start with effective work.

Below is a video with a set of rules on “warming up” to adapt our body to the next effort :

Phase 2 or Active

It is the actual or working time itself, when we perform at Hiit itself. It has a series of predetermined intervals in which training rhythms are observed: High pace (or of maximum intensity) and Recovery rate (in some cases it can also be rest absolute).

The effective time of this phase will oscillate around 15 minutes. If you are doing your Hiit workout, don’t wait much longer…

Phase 3 or Recovery

Return to calm or warm , very important, and sometimes goes unnoticed. It usually has a similar duration to phase 1 and its goal is the opposite of this. We try to gradually reduce blood pressure as well as bring the heart back to near baseline rhythms, promoting the mobilization and excretion of substances due to energy metabolism.

How many intervals to take and how?

Although there is no fixed rule, depending on our ability and experience level, they can be planned between 6-10 intervals .

And taking these into account, the rest time-actual time will be a 3: 1, 2: 1, 1: 1 or even 1: 0.5 function (more experienced users).

Intensità HIIT


When-to-do-Hiit-workout? Any exercise that has a certain intensity will assume stress for the organism

Faced with such activity, we are also looking for a result. In this case, we could talk about performance enhancement, promoting fat burning … We can plan according to our routine, on the days we do not intend to lift weights or on the same day of chest training

 HIIT e pesi
So, this is a training session like the one we could do in the gym.

Remember : a hiit session can compromise our weightlifting recovery

Does Hiit-interfere with weight-training?In other words, a well done Hiit workout can be equated with a leg training session, such as squats

Does the squat interfere with the rest of your planning? No, because it is another more typical element of the total set. The indicative point would be to know how to plan the hiit and our resilience .


  • So, a good time may be after you finished our workout in the gym . In fact, even if the hiit session was short, it doesn’t mean that we will have to extend the entire session for too long.
  • However, if our pattern responds to a full-body workout, the ‘hit can be included on days when we don’t go to the gym. .
  • If we don’t have much time and, depending on the training we have done or are about to do, we can double the session.

Are Hiit and Fartlek the same thing? Does Fartlek play you? It is, literally translated, a” game of speed “, and every fartlek routine will be different and you can configure the parameters: pace, time, distance…It is very similar to hiit, except that the latter looks for a predetermined sequence as well as being much more intense.

Allenamento FartlekAgain, another way to compare it might be a fasting weight training

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Is it possible to do a fasting hiit workout? The answer, in principle, is yes. Our body is perfectly capable of exercising on an empty stomach. and even high intensity.However, my advice is that previously, before running and doing a hiit session on an empty stomach, we should start with experience , then train in another time slot and accumulate additional training to generate adaptation

Is it better the Hiit or the Cardio? From my point of view, it is best to keep the maximum type of stimuli within our routine

This can also being extrapolated from weight training.I am not in favor of limiting myself to just one type (or strategy) of training, as we must train to try to develop the greatest number of adaptations , exploiting the extraordinary ability we can obtain from our body.
This also includes integrating hiit , fartlek , series or medium ( MISS ) or low ( LISS ) intensity stationary cardio

Remember that the higher the intensity, the higher it is the stress generated and, therefore, the result can also be more productive. But there is an essential factor in this, our resilience and training tolerance .

Allenamento MIIS

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