Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for All Fitness Levels

Everyone who knows me knows I love to be outdoors. I was lucky a couple of days ago, 50 degrees and sunny. I did some outdoor work: made a new raised garden area, split and transplanted some flowers and grasses, began framing a base for a new garden shed. I spent 8 hours digging, completely filthy, covered in mud. I loved every minute of it! Yesterday I did a walk for MS with my daughter and her sorority and then spent a perfect afternoon together for Mom's day. Today as I type, I am watching the snow fall...expecting 8 inches. This weather is absolutely ridiculous! It is supposed to be spring.

My love for outdoors along with exercise is what inspired me to start a boot camp program in my community. Classes begin in a few weeks so I am beyond pumped! I am ready to get to the fields and practice the drills created for my groups. My boot camp will primarily focus on circuit and high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is when you alternate intense level exercise and “rest” segments for set durations. Rest does not mean stop moving, rest discussed here means lower intensity. Interval training can be performed by all levels of fitness by varying the levels of intensity, the duration of the intense intervals, and the duration of rest periods.


An example of interval training for a beginner could be thirty seconds of jumping jacks followed by three minutes walking. Thirty seconds of a running cone drill followed by another three minute walk, etc. An example for a moderately fit person may be one minute jumping jacks, one minute burpees, one minute push ups followed by a three minute jog and so on. Both intense and rest segments can be modified for duration. Interval training should always be gradually progressive to avoid injury.

If you perform the same form of exercises all the time, your body will adapt and you may stop seeing progress. Interval training helps avoid these plateaus many find when only lifting weights or only running. You will also burn more calories during HIIT than during a steady same length workout of one type. With interval training your body is always confused thus must work hard during every workout. Interval training is useful for every level and has a multitude of aerobic and anaerobic benefits.


As your intense segments increase so will your aerobic capacity. According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training. Also, more oxygen is consumed during a HIIT workout than in non interval exercise. This extra oxygen increases your rate of metabolism for 90 minutes to 2.4 hours after one session of HIIT exercise. Higher metabolism causes your body to burn fat and calories quickly.

One of the biggest challenges of any exercise program is to avoid boredom. No one wants to do the same tasks day after day. You can do interval training with a jump rope, ladders, cones, weights, bands, or your body weight. A mix of strength and cardio circuits can make the interval training options fun and almost endless.


Interval training is tough and demanding on the heart, lungs, and muscles. You should always check with your doctor before performing any type of high intensity training. Then, Go for it! Push out of your comfort zone. Your body will feel sore, your heart will pound. The first few sessions may make you ask yourself why did you decide to partake. You may hurt those first few days when you bend down and put on your shoes. Rise to the challenge and stick with it. You will be getting heart healthy, physically stronger, your brain activity will increase, your sex drive will increase... and get better and you will feel  proud of yourself as you should!

REF:, Jim Stoppani PH.D.


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