Saturday, April 27, 2019

How HIIT Affects Your Muscles

Everyone wants to get in shape, but many people go about it the wrong way. They’ll waste hours and hours on the treadmill or stationary bike, mind-numbingly glued to the machines. Unfortunately, research has shown that this can actually be counterproductive to muscle growth.

Steady-state cardio could even cause you to lose muscle if you’re not careful! So, what should you be doing then? Should you just avoid cardio entirely? Well, no, but you might need to go about it a different way.

In this article, we’ll be talking about the benefits of high-intensity interval training. We’ll explain why everyone is doing it, what the benefits are, and how you can make it a part of your routine to shed fat faster and build more muscle.

We’ll get to the benefits of HIIT and how it impacts your muscles in a minute, but first let’s talk about what HIIT is and where it came from. Who pioneered high-intensity interval training? Athletes looking to get the best performance from their training of course.

What is HIIT and where did it come from?

Despite what people may think, HIIT is not anything new. Athletes from as early as 1910 have been using interval training to condition their bodies for competitive sports. Hannes Kolehmainen, an Olympic gold medalist from Finland also trained using similar techniques.

HIIT means performing brief, but high-intensity bursts of cardio followed by equal periods of rest. As an example, you might consider sprinting. This would require you to run as fast as you can for a short period of time, and then follow that up with walking or a slow jog.

While many people have bemoaned the uselessness of steady cardio like biking or running when trying to gain muscle mass, the studies for HIIT tell a different story. In this study, comparing HIIT to steady-state cardio, the group who performed HIIT exercises gained nearly two pounds of muscle. The steady-state cardio group lost almost a pound.

That’s a staggering result, and if you’ve been on the fence about adopting a HIIT routine, you should definitely take a closer look. While you might think that it would be common sense that you would burn more fat with a longer cardio workout, another study says that while you would burn more calories, you could actually burn more body fat with HIIT.

So, what’s the downside to HIIT training? Well, interval training is very taxing on your body. You’re literally going as hard as you can in that time period, and that means that you need to be more careful about your recovery time. It’s important not to overtax your body when you incorporate HIIT into your workout routine.

What are the benefits of HIIT?

There are a lot of benefits to establishing a HITT routine. For starters, those sudden bursts of activity do an amazing job of burning a ton of calories in a short period of time. You could even burn up to 30% more calories with HIIT versus other methods of exercise.

HIIT has also been shown to boost your metabolic rate for an extended period of time even after your workout is over. This allows you to continue burning fat throughout the day.

It also allows you to do cardio while still gaining muscle, which is likely one of the biggest benefits of HITT. Especially seeing as steady-state cardio could even cause you to lose muscle mass.

This study also found that HIIT can reduce blood sugar and increase insulin resistance. How big of a difference is it? Enough for researchers to find it useful for diabetics, and it does a better job at it than traditional exercises as well.

There’s also evidence that HIIT can actually increase the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers have less in the way of endurance, but they can give a much larger boost to overall strength and power when compared to slow-twitch muscle fibers.

How does HIIT affect your muscles?

So, what makes HIIT so special? Why is it superior to boring old steady-state cardio? HIIT succeeds where everyday cardio fails because it can actually increase testosterone and GLUT4 concentrations, while steady-state cardio can actually be detrimental to testosterone.

Intense cardio periods, like the ones that appear during a HIIT workout actually deprive your body of oxygen. Your muscles then attempt to compensate for this by working harder to return to their normal state.

That’s really the magic of HIIT and why it allows your body to torch calories so quickly, but it also allows you to pack on more muscle. HIIT actually forces your body to use a greater percentage of your muscle fibers than something like jogging would, and that leads to a much larger boost in muscle growth.

How do you get started with HIIT training?

If you want to get started with HIIT, this means giving it everything you’ve got. You’re literally looking to be moving as fast as you can for 15-30 seconds. Then you’ll need to follow that up with an at least equal, but possibly longer rest period.

While sprinting is often a common example used for HIIT routines, you don’t have to run if you don’t want to. There’s plenty of other popular choices like cycling, rowing and cross trainer machines.

HIIT can also be extremely effective if it’s paired with a weight lifting routine. Try completing your HIIT routine an hour or so before you start lifting weights to help shed fat faster. If you’ll be performing both HIIT and weight training on the same day, go for strength endurance training with more reps to maximize the benefits.

In closing, HIIT workouts are actually very flexible, and they can be performed with little to no equipment. You can do HIIT at home, at the gym, when you’re traveling for business or even in your downtime somewhere. Just remember to give yourself ample rest periods to avoid injuring yourself.

Sprinterval is an app that helps you get started with HIIT using sprints.

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