high-intensity interval training

What is high-intensity interval training?

Some people love cardio exercise like running, cycling or aerobics, while others swear by weights. It might not seem like they have much in common. But what if the two were combined into high-intensity interval training?  

If high-intensity interval training is trending right now, it’s because it really does work! But what does high-intensity interval training consist of, exactly? And what does it actually do? Read on to find out!

What is high-intensity interval training?

High-intensity interval training, more commonly called HIIT for short, is a training technique that sets out to increase the intensity of physical effort as much as possible. The aim is to push the body beyond its limits. This method is used for both cardiovascular exercises and weight lifting or strength exercises.


How does it work?

Each high-intensity interval training workout is comprised of stints of maximum effort followed by periods of gentle movements (active recovery). It does this to push the body out of its comfort zone so that it can reap the benefits.

high-intensity interval training

What are the benefits of high-intensity interval training?

Pushing your boundaries during a workout is great, but doing it for a good cause makes it even better. And that’s exactly the case! If you put in the effort, high-intensity interval training is extremely effective.


First advantage: Better physical performance

First of all, high-intensity interval training helps to improve physical performance: a higher exercise threshold and improved strength, speed, and cardiorespiratory capacity. It’s a great way to boost your performance whatever your sport. But that’s not all… You will also feel healthier in your everyday life, like when you’re going up the stairs.


Second advantage: Weight loss and muscle growth

Another benefit that is not to be sniffed at is that it accelerates the process of breaking down adipose tissue (fat loss) and building muscle. Although we’re often told that you need to do at least 40 minutes of moderate exercise (without forcing too much) before we start to burn lipids (and wave goodbye to those unsightly wobbly bits), recent studies have shown high-intensity interval training to be a very effective method for losing weight, and particularly for shifting abdominal fat that sits in and around the stomach area.

After 20 weeks, it is five times more fat-busting than a normal workout!

And while you won’t necessarily lose more weight than you would with moderate exercise, that’s because it increases muscle mass (by working type 2 muscle fibre). As it loses fat and builds muscle, the body will be transformed to achieve a well-toned figure.


Third advantage: It saves time

If you’re short on time or don’t like doing long sessions,  you’ll like the fact that HIIT workouts are very short, making them perfect for anyone who struggles to fit exercise into their day. Doing these effective 30-minute training sessions three times a week leads to improved cardiorespiratory function, increased muscle strength, fat loss, and stable or increased muscle mass.

How is it similar to cross training?

Over the last few years, Cross Training has grown in popularity to become the ultimate method for getting into shape. It is a functional training method which uses all the muscles in the body by doing high-intensity cross training exercises.


Like HIIT, a Cross Training workout combines stints of intense effort with periods of active recovery. For example, a METCON (metabolic conditioning) workout will include as many reps as possible in a short space of time. Or it might include doing a certain amount of reps in a set time.

The difference between the two is the rest time, which isn’t fixed in Cross Training, whereas interval training requires you to stick to a set timing protocol (like the Tabata method) in order to get the most benefit out of it. This is what makes Cross Training appealing. Different exercises that are combined depending on the objective means the workouts are more fun.


If you want to learn more about Cross Training:

So as you can see, high-intensity interval training is a great way to achieve your physical and exercise targets.

However, as the workouts are very intense, it’s important to get the balance between results and safety.

And to make sure you’re always in top form for your workout, don’t overlook your rest periods and a balanced diet.

Now you’ve got everything you need, the ball’s in your court!





Decathlon writer (weight training marketing team)

As a longstanding fitness fanatic (group classes like step, aeroboxing, BodySculpt, functional circuits and stretching) I switched to weight training when I was training to become a sports coach. After initially feeling uncomfortable in such a male-dominated environment, I gradually got into it and came to love this discipline!