Oct 27, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

Have you heard about HIIT? High-intensity interval training, aka HIIT, is surging in popularity, according to fitness experts who attended the IDEA World Fitness Convention.

These programs, taught in classes at fitness centers or through DVDs, feature short bursts of activity, designed to speed up metabolism, and mix up exercises so your body and mind don’t get used to repetition.

Fitness experts say that HIIT works for almost all levels of fitness and that results appear quickly for most people. For many, the time and convenience factor is what makes HIIT so appealing. Because of their intensity, programs can deliver a good workout in a short time, says Laura Wheatley, a graduate student in Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of Utah. “During HIIT workouts, more calories are expended to meet the high demands of the activity,” she says.

There are a few things, however, to keep in mind before starting HIIT. Wheatley says people who are new to exercise should check in with their physician first.

“For someone just starting out, I would recommend a relatively lower intensity, moderate duration with equal recovery and enough intervals to obtain five to 10 minutes of high-intensity work,” she says. “Small, gradual progression is best to maximize fitness and reduce the risk of injury or burnout.” 

New HIIT participants would be better off to opt for a class over a video series, Wheatley says. A certified instructor can help you ramp up your activity level safely and provide guidance on form—done incorrectly, these exercises can lead to injury, she warns.

“Once an individual is comfortable with HIIT exercises and can listen to their body, then home workouts may be a great way to get their workout in a time-efficient manner and save some money,” she says. 

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