Is interval training actually healthy?

HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training, which describes the type of training itself: High-intensity intervals paired with short breaks.

Every interval training consists of a sequence of very high, intensive load phases and correspondingly short recovery phases. The more intense the load phase is (200 percent and more of the maximum oxygen uptake), the shorter it is and the fewer intervals are required to achieve the same results as in classic endurance training. The intensity of the workout is thus more important than its duration. Interval training is therefore very different from classic endurance training, where the load is relatively constant.
As early as the beginning of the 20th century, some runners trained with the help of the interval technique and won Olympic medals that way. And throughout Olympic running history, some of the most successful athletes trained using the interval method. But it didn’t really become popular until the 2000s, when more and more scientists discovered the positive effects of interval training.

Any form of training that involves intervals, i.e. alternating between an intense period of exertion and a recovery period, is a form of interval training. The differences usually lie in the intensity and thus the duration of the load, as well as the type of training itself. Whether classic bodyweight workout, i.e. training with your own bodyweight, training with weights, running, cycling, swimming or almost any other sport, everything can be done in the form of interval training and thus lead to significant performance improvements.

The benefits are obvious, therefore. But, if it’s all so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it? Well, HIIT is first and foremost also stress. It is an extreme situation for your own body. This challenge, coming to your own limit, is absolutely fine two to three days a week. But every day, sooner or later, that stress would show up. You become more susceptible to injury, irritable, restless, your immune system declines. Therefore, it is even more important, in addition to interval training, on the one hand to build muscle (more muscle = more calorie consumption = more strength), and on the other hand to relax in a targeted manner. As with everything in life: It’s all in the mix.

Relaxation can take the form of yoga, extensive stretching or even walking. The fascinating thing about HIIT is that even though the workouts are so short, you’ll soon notice that your condition is getting better and better. Ten to fifteen minutes of HIIT can help you keep going for an hour on your next jog. And if you really only have time to work out once or twice a week, interval training is made for that. Try it out. Keep it up for three to four weeks. Then (re)judge.


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