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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a mode of physical activity that involves brief, intermittent bursts of vigorous activity interspersed with periods of low-intensity exercise or rest. And the benefits of HIIT are multidimensional.

This type of interval training is done for short, intense bouts of exercise between 20 and 90 seconds, followed by a comparable recovery period of lower-intensity activity and repeated for approximately 10 to 20 minutes.

It’s a popular training method used to exercise various muscle groups, including the upper and lower body. Professional athletes, military personnel, and people who enjoy intense physical workouts all employ HIIT techniques to improve fitness and lose weight.

HIIT can produce similar health and fitness benefits to traditional endurance training (END) in a fraction of the time.

Because HIIT is now a common alternative to END and exercise training changes the neural control of muscle function, it is crucial to evaluate HIIT-induced neuromuscular adaptations systemically.

Neuromotor benefits of HIIT

Researchers recently evaluated differences in the neuromuscular adaptations to HIIT and END using electromyography (EMG). Two weeks of HIIT and END elicited similar improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, but there were distinct motor unit behavior adjustments with the two types of training.

HIIT increased both maximum force production and motor unit discharge. In contrast, END did not influence motor unit firing. 

These findings suggest that HIIT and END have very different motor unit function effects and provide important new information regarding exercise training-induced neuromuscular adaptations.

This study was also the first to demonstrate training-induced motor unit discharge rate changes by tracking the same individual motor units before and after training. This innovative methodology will likely continue to broaden our understanding of neural adaptations to exercise training.

Four more quick health benefits to HIIT

  1. High-intensity interval training quickly challenges heart rate variability to burn more calories than a steady state cardio workout.
  2. The additional energy burned from excess post exercise oxygen consumption during active rest and recovery is from body fat stores and not blood sugar, aiding weight loss. 
  3. HIIT is condensed enough to fit into a busy person’s schedule.
  4. And it increases the metabolism for up to 24 hours after the workout is over, which means that you will continue to burn fat even after you have finished your workout.
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