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Pros and cons of HIIT: benefits of high intensity interval training

Prepare to get seriously sweaty...

benefits of hiit
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
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If you're pressed for time but want to see impressive results from your exercise sessions without spending hours in the gym, HIIT could be the exercise for you.

MORE: I tried David Beckham's gruelling workout and here's what I thought (once I recovered!)

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and is designed to raise your heart rate with periods of intense exercise, followed by short rest breaks or less vigorous activities. Kate Middleton is reportedly a fan, favouring CrossFit workouts, while David Beckham launched his own HIIT workout this month, DB45.

WATCH: David Beckham's gruelling workout routine at F45

HIIT workout sessions can last between four and 30 minutes, but as you're required to put in maximum effort, you finish feeling just as you would if you had put in a couple of hours at the gym. But what are the benefits and disadvantages of HIIT? We look at the pros and cons...

hiit benefits© Photo: iStock

There are many pros to HIIT workouts

Benefits of HIIT

HIIT is time-efficient

As HIIT sessions are so short they're perfect for anyone with a busy schedule. Whilst you may not have time to make your way to the gym, a quick HIIT session is easier to squeeze into a jam-packed day

HIIT helps you burn fat

HIIT is one of the best forms of exercise if you're trying to lose weight, says Sam Gregory, head trainer and co-owner of fitness studio F45 Stratford. "Numerous studies found that HIIT helps you consume more oxygen than a non-interval workout routine, which helps increase your metabolism rate after a session. This increased metabolic rate is what helps you to burn calories and fat at a faster rate."

HIIT helps manages stress levels

"Day-to-day life can be stressful and stress can cause the heart rate to fluctuate throughout the day, depending on the severity of the situation.," explains Sam. "HIIT has the ability to improve this and make you better equipped to deal with the difficulties that life throws at you, as it provides a short, fiery session to distract you from all of your concerns."

READ: Brie Larson's Captain Marvel workout: What happened when I tried it for a week

HIIT can be done anywhere

Although you can incorporate weights and machinery into your workout, no equipment is required, so you can easily exercise at home. Doing exercises like push-ups, burpees and lunges means you're only working against your own body weight.

HIIT lowers blood pressure

In the short term, HIIT will cause an increase in blood pressure, however in the long term, you will witness a decrease, Sam says. "This is largely because HIIT can reduce the stiffness of the artery walls, leading to a lower resting blood pressure. Studies have also shown that HIIT is the best form of exercise if you are trying to lower your blood pressure, more so than traditional cardio.

pros cons hiit© Photo: iStock

There are both pros and cons to HIIT workouts

Cons of HIIT

HIIT is not suitable for everyone

As HIIT training is so intense you need a basic level of fitness to take part. If you're not used to exercising the workout could cause undue stress on your heart.

HIIT can cause dizziness

If you're alternating between standing and sitting at speed your blood pressure can drop quickly, making you feel dizzy. If this happens you should take a break until you feel ready to continue.

READ: I tried The Rock's hardcore workout routine for 7 days and have never felt more exhausted

HIIT can leave your muscles feeling sore

Whilst the exercises are only brief, because you're working at such a high intensity you can end up overexerting yourself and can run the risk of damaging your muscles.

There's a higher risk of injury from HIIT

As you're moving at such a fast speed your form may not be correct on some of the exercises, so make sure you know how to position yourself. If in doubt, ask a personal trainer or a member of gym staff for advice.

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