Take a HIIT! It’s good for you!

We asked SCFT physio Abbi Crawford to tell us why High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the best work out for a busy life.

Take a HIIT! It’s good for you!

Mini bursts of high energy have the power to transform our fitness

You may have heard of training terms such as fartlek training, tabata, circuit classes, bootcamps or even insanity. They are all based on the same principle of mini bursts of high energy full body workouts followed by small rest periods.

One of the greatest examples of this is boxing. Each boxing round lasts only 3 minutes yet these athletes are amongst the fittest individuals in the world and generally have minimal body fat.

If you are someone who doesn’t have the time for long distance running or finds going to the gym boring then you may find that HIIT is for you. Research at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh found that after only two weeks of HIIT, sedentary men experienced reductions in both glucose and insulin levels while simultaneously removing the time barrier to exercise. (Murphy, 2012).

You have everything to gain

It has been shown that HIIT can increase you metabolic rate to burn some extra calories, prevent yourself from developing co morbidities such as dementia, diabetes, coronary heart disease and many other circulatory diseases.

These short bursts of intense exercise, only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits of conventional exercise, says Dr Michael Mosley.

When you do HIIT, you utilise your whole body, so that 80% of the body’s muscle cells are activated, compared to 20-40% for walking or moderate intensity jogging or cycling (BBC, 2012). Furthermore in a systematic review by Milanović, et al (2015) it was found HIIT can elicit large improvements in lung capacity and VO2max with the gains being greater following HIIT when compared with endurance training.

physical exercise

It will also help you feel good by releasing endorphins, help maintains healthy weight and will give you that extra spring in your step.

Now I challenge you all during the course of Wellbeing@Work Festival throughout the month of May to find that 3-5 minutes a day to work your whole body to its highest capacity. After all you will still have 1,435 minutes left of the day to do as you please. We’ve even put up some posters by printers to help you.

Try this cycle for a week and see how it goes...

Here is a varied routine to try three mornings a week, at home (Merz, 2014).

For example:

– 30 press-ups

– 20 squats

– 20 tricep dips on a chair

– 20 lunges

– 15 pull-ups on a door bar

Or try these do at your desk exercises.


Find out more

If you want to learn more about HIIT these references may help:

BBC, 2012. Can three minutes of exercise a week help make you fit?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17177251
[Accessed 19 April 2018].

Hutchinson, J., 2016. So What Exactly Is HIIT?. [Online]
Available at: https://sportswave.ca/trending/so-what-exactly-is-hiit/
[Accessed 19 April 2018].

Merz, T., 2014. Can 20 seconds of high intensity exercise really beat a session in the gym?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/10584764/Can-20-seconds-of-high-intensity-exercise-really-beat-a-session-in-the-gym.html
[Accessed 19 April 2018].

Milanović, Z., Sporiš, G. & Weston, M., 2015. Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training for VO2max Improvements: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. Sports Medicine, p. 1469–1481.

Murphy, S., 2012. Can you get fit in five minutes?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/10/can-get-fit-five-minutes
[Accessed 19 April 2018].