5 benefits of a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout!

You have probably already read something about the HIIT workout on this blog . We gladly recommend this High Intensity Interval Training as an alternative to traditional cardio such as running or cycling . Those who don’t feel like working for hours a week will probably benefit from HIIT.

But why is this method so effective? And why can he also help you work on a healthier body in various areas? Today we look at the five most important benefits that the HIIT workout has to offer. We bet that afterwards you will be eager to give it a try yourself?

Strength training vs. cardio

You may be a little surprised at how popular the HIIT workout is. When you updateour articles a little, you now also know that strength training is a very effective way to lose weight . Strength training ensures that you continue to burn more caloriesthroughout the day .

This is in contrast to cardio, where you only burn calories while you exercise. Yet it is not that cardio has no benefits at all. For example, it is a means to burn some extra calories and to improve your condition . And if you choose to perform cardio training in addition to your strength training, then HIIT training is definitely something to consider.

What is a HIIT workout?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The idea of ​​a HIIT workout is – as the name implies – alternating intervals of high intensity with short periods of rest. You can do that with almost all sports. For example, alternate 30 seconds of very fast sprinting with 2 minutes of leisurely walking , and continue for about 20 minutes.

You no longer have to continue to make the training more intensive. You can simply make the rest a bit shorter for that, or the intensive intervals a little longer. That way you can easily adjust the HIIT workout to your own level or goals.

Benefits of the HIIT workout

We have already briefly mentioned a few advantages above, but for the sake of clarity we will list them all below. The five main reasons for choosing a HIIT workout are as follows:

1. The afterburn effect

At first glance, it seems strange that HIIT is just as effective as long-term cardio training. Can you burn just as many calories with a few minutes of sprinting as with running for an hour? The answer is very simple: yes, you can. The reason is that at HIIT you make a much more explosive, intensive effort.

Your body needs more time to recover completely from it. You continue to burn calories during that recovery period. This brings the final amount of energyburned about as high or even higher than with ‘normal’ cardio. There you have that ‘afterburn effect’ to a lesser extent or not at all.

2. No loss of muscle tissue

One of the pitfalls of cardio is that you don’t just burn fat with it. If your body is desperately looking for more energy, the muscle tissue must believe in it. And of course that is not the intention: you will not be in the gym for so long to lose everything again while running. Fortunately, with a HIIT workout you lose much or even no muscle tissue.

The reason is that you spend less time working. If the training lasts only 20 minutes, your body has much less time to grasp your muscles . And when you are done exercising, nutrition ensures that muscle breakdown is prevented.

3. Improving your condition

As mentioned, cardio can be a very good way to improve your condition. This is not only useful when you are exercising. A little fitness is also nice in daily life; for example, it makes climbing stairs a lot easier. HIIT helps you a lot with this.

These explosive intervals of exercise train your heart to pump more blood around faster. You can endure efforts in this way for longer. And that effect comes faster than you think.

4. It takes little time

In addition to all the sports benefits, HIIT is also just a very practical choice. This is mainly because it takes so little time to complete a full HIIT workout. If you include the warm-up , you will be ready in 25 minutes. That is considerably better to plan than the lengthy running training sessions that many people impose on themselves!

Lack of time is one of the most frequently mentioned reasons when people have to explain why they exercise less than they would like. Does that seem uncomfortable to you too? With HIIT you really don’t have to use that excuse for yourself anymore, because an hour a week already delivers huge results! This form of training can also be combined perfectly with strength training.

5. HIIT is flexible

A final advantage is again of a relatively practical nature: with HIIT you can go in every possible direction. First of all, you are free to choose any sport that you like. Running is used a lot because you don’t need much material for that. However, there are many more options: cycling, skipping rope, swimming …

You can even alternate if you want to keep things interesting. In addition, your HIIT workout can easily be adjusted to your level by varying the interval duration. When you move forward, you don’t have to change huge schedules. You simply extend the effort by ten seconds, and you can count on it that you will again have a hard time.

Does HIIT also have disadvantages?

Is this really the perfect training form? A little dampener to the celebration: HIIT can cause problems when used incorrectly. The two most important things to watch out for are the following:

1. Start small to prevent injuries

HIIT is – not surprisingly – quite intensive. This means that it is better not to start at full power immediately. If you have not yet built up so much fitness, you soon run the risk of injury . It is therefore best to take your first HIIT workouts ample time for your rest periods.

If that is easy for you, you can always make things worse. Rather not take a risk with your own health: an injury lingers longer than you like.

2. Rest days to prevent overtraining

It is also of great importance – even for advanced athletes – to insert sufficient rest days. HIIT is, as stated, a stronger burden on your body than ‘normal’ cardio. So you also need longer to fully recover from a workout.

If you do not take that time, the overdue recovery can continue to accumulate. In the long term, that leads to overtraining . So never make your HIIT workout longer than 45 minutes, and preferably always follow with a rest day!

Create HIIT training schedule

So do you want to get started with HIIT? The most important choice is of course: the right sport. Every cardio sport is suitable, but also (partly) fitness-oriented strength exercises are great. For example, think of jumping jacks or burpees. Also choose training moments: 1 to 3 per week, depending on your further activity.

It is best to start quietly, for example with 5 times 1 minute training, alternated with 2 minutes of rest. Then you make the rest shorter or the activity longer each week. That way you continue to build up your fitness!


What is a good heart rate during exercise?

In cardio in particular, you see people exercising regularly with heart rate monitors. In the gym , many devices even have a built-in heart rate sensor. And indeed: a good heartbeat during exercise is a factor to be reckoned with.

But what is the best heart rate during exercise? As high as possible? Somewhere in that famous ‘ fat burning zone ‘? Or neither of them? We explain it all to you in today’s blog!

How do you measure your heart rate?

First a practical thing: how do you actually measure your heart rate? You do not need a heart rate monitor for this at home. A clock with a second hand is enough. Press your finger against the artery in your wrist and count the number of strokes for one minute. Voilà, you have your heart rate per minute.

Do you not feel like or have time to sit down counting a minute? You can also count 30 or 15 seconds and multiply the result by two or four respectively. A small deviation may creep in that way, but that is not a problem for most purposes.

If you are running, it is of course difficult to count your heartbeats in the meantime. If you want to know your heart rate during exercise, then a heart rate monitor is sometimes a useful tool.

What is a healthy resting heart rate?

There is no such thing as the healthy heartbeat, both during rest and during exercise. The speed with which your heart beats is influenced by many different factors. Age is the most important, but your gender also plays a nice role. In addition, your heart rate accelerates if you are stressed for a long time or maintain an unhealthy lifestyle.

In adults, the resting heart rate is on average between 60 and 80 beats per minute. For women, the heart beats a little faster than for men: 76 versus 68 beats per minute, respectively. If you sleep, the heart rate drops considerably, to about 50 beats per minute.

Determine the maximum heart rate

When you exercise – or even only exercise moderately intensively – your heart rate accelerates. Your muscles need more oxygen, so your heart has to pump more blood through your body. The more intensive the activity, the faster your heart beats.

There is, however, a maximum in the frequency of your heartbeat. That upper limit drops as you get older , simply because your heart will be beating a little slower and less able to cope. It is not really possible to train against that fall (and that is not necessary for anything).

You can calculate your maximum heart rate approximately by doing 208 – (your age x 0.7). For example, if you are 40, your maximum heart rate is around 180. This is an estimate, and the actual number of course differs per person. However, as a rule of thumb for exercising, this is a great guideline.

A good heartbeat during exercise

The best heart rate during exercise is lower than the maximum heart rate! You cannot maintain that maximum for a long time, and it is unhealthy exhausting to try. Instead, it is best to keep your heart rate between 60 and 80% of the maximum heart rate.

Top athletes sometimes train above that ratio, up to around 90%. However, as an amateur athlete it is not advisable to do that without professional guidance. An intensity at which your heart rate rises to 80% is enough to make progress and improve your fitness . The following applies within this range: the higher the heart rate, the more calories you burn.

The fat burning zone

Now you sometimes hear the advice not to train at a high heart rate like 80%. Instead, you should stay at a moderate speed of around 60%. In this so-called ‘fat burning zone’ you would – as the name implies – burn more fat than at higher intensity.

That is as follows. Your body never gets all the energy it needs from body fat: some also come from carbohydrates , stored in your muscles as glycogen . In the ‘fat burning zone’ you use relatively more fat and less carbohydrates compared to training at a higher heart rate.

Does this mean that you have to moderate the intensity to get slimmer? Well – no, there’s a snag. If you train more intensively, you burn more calories in total. Relatively, a smaller part of it is fat – but in absolute amounts you still burn more grams of fat if you train at high heart rate.

Heartbeat and afterburn effect

In addition, a second advantage of a high heart rate is the afterburn effect. In short: if you exercise intensively, it causes minor damage to your body. To restore that, burn a little more calories than usual for a few hours after a cardio workout . The higher your heart rate during exercise, the more that afterburn effect increases. In the long term, that can make a big difference.

Moreover, strength training provides a stronger afterburn effect than cardio, despite a lower heart rate during the training itself. That has to do with muscle damage and the repair thereof. That is one of the reasons why strength training is recommended to lose weight.

Note: not too long too intensive!

In short: when it comes to heart rate during exercise, intensive is often the best option. You must of course be careful not to overdo it. We mentioned above that it is better not to sit above 80% of your maximum heart rate. That is simply not healthy for your heart in the long term.

In addition, you should not maintain a high heart rate for too long. If you train very intensively for a very long time, the stress hormone cortisol is released, which actually ensures that you retain more fat. So limit strength training and intensive cardio training to a maximum of one hour. Calm cardio with a low heartbeat can possibly be longer.