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The relationship between fitness and health – an analysis of the HIIT trend

In an industry where trends are always coming and going, we must always stay true to principles (truths based on science) to navigate the complex world in which we, as trainers, operate within. We look at the science with Paul Edmondson to provide an analysis of the HIIT trend.

The HIIT Trend 

One such trend that has been around for some time now is HIIT – high intensity interval training. And with good reason.

It offers up a multitude of benefits to the end user, that include (but not limited to):

  1. Increased work volume, in a time effective manner.
  1. Through the production of lactic acid, anabolic hormones such as testosterone, human growth hormone, IGF-1 (insulin-like-growth-factor 1) and m-Tor (local cell produced type of hormone) all secrete to up regulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth) and drive down body fat. With around 90% of clients wanting or needing aesthetic goals, HIIT is the perfect recipe in which to achieve this.

Once you read number 2, it’s no wonder why clients and trainers alike are “all in” with this style of training – it stands to reason.

Too much of a good thing…

The thing is, we know, too much of one thing is not always a good thing. With benefit also comes risk. And focusing on too much on one style of training will always cause benefit of a kind and detriment of another kind. 

For example, too much one-dimensional training comes with strength, aesthetic benefit but repetitive trauma (wear and tear of joints/tissues through lack of variability). Therefore, we at T2 Fitness are strong advocates for trainers expanding their personal trainer knowledge with functional training methods, such as Kettlebells, ViPR and Suspended Movement Training.

In this instance, too much exposure to HIIT training can have long term detriment through increased arterial stiffness, which is hardening of the arteries which directly leads to cardiovascular disease and circulatory dysfunction. 

This is because of oxidative stress – too long a window of time spent in the lactate zone – and aerobic wellbeing not taking place. 

So, how to HIIT safely

There’s no denying the time-saving lure of HIIT is appealing to most trainers and clients. However, to exercise safely, most people adopt restrictive work-to-rest ratios for client wellbeing and safety.

To enhance performance (lactate threshold training), downplay injury potential and mitigate arterial stiffness, the optimal work to rest ratios should be 1:2, which equates to 30 seconds anaerobic work, followed by 60 seconds aerobic recovery. 

For beginners to fitness, trainers may even want to consider a ratio of 1:4 before progressing towards a 1:2 approach later as fitness increases.

We hope you’ve found this analysis of the HIIT trend useful. If you are keen to learn more about functional fitness, or fitness to improve health and wellbeing, contact Paul at T2 Fitness on info@t2fitness.co.uk to discover what courses can help you achieve your goals. 


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