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This is how the HIIT fitness trend works
Jogging for miles or struggling on the ergometer for hours - the view of the calorie counter is often sobering. Because what is quickly fed in takes a long time to be consumed. The new fitness trend high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is intended to achieve high weight loss through short training times. Sports scientists and doctors explain what is behind it.
Everyone has no time. The extra long working day, after-work beer and dinner with the children. When should you take long jogging rounds? Invest little time, lose a lot of weight. That promises the HIIT training format. Can it actually work? Yes, experts say - at least in part. Thanks to HIIT, recreational athletes should be as fit in a few minutes as they are after a whole training session.
What is HIIT?
The abbreviation HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. So in German it's about an intensive form of interval training. This replaces the moderate, constant load of other forms of training with short but crisp loads.
Full throttle with almost no recovery
HIIT now takes this interval training and takes it to the extreme. Because at HIIT there are no longer so-called worthwhile breaks, explains Prof. Christoph Eifler from the German University for Prevention and Health Management (DHfPG) in Saarbrücken.
When breaks are worthwhile, you wait until the exercise pulse has dropped again after an interval. It's different with the HIIT: here the length of the break is set, after a maximum of 60 seconds it starts again - regardless of how fast the heart is beating.
HIIT is basically normal interval training
That makes HIIT highly intensive, as Eifler says, even if the training in practice cannot always be clearly differentiated from classic interval training. “In the end, the difference is not that big,” says the sports scientist. "The term HIIT is always something marketing because it's a fitness trend."
HIIT is not a sport, but a form of training
The basic principle of HIIT can be used on the bike ergometer as well as on the jogging route or in group courses, such as step aerobics. The reason for the increasing interest in HIIT is above all the great time savings, says Alexander Wulf from the employers' association of German fitness and health facilities DSSV. The training effect remains at least the same.
Not too often and not too long
The individual intervals last 15 to 60 seconds - and the training is complete after around 20 minutes. For health reasons, it shouldn't be much more, says Wulf: "It is fundamentally important that training with this intensity should not take too long," he says. And too often it is not good either: two or three training sessions a week are the maximum.
And that little bit of training should show results?
Yes, say the experts. The only question is whether it is better than classic continuous endurance training. "The most important question when evaluating HIIT is what I want to achieve with it," explains Prof. Andreas Nieß, medical director of the sports medicine department at the University Hospital in Tübingen.
If it is only about physical fitness, measured by the oxygen saturation in the blood, HIIT is superior to the so-called permanent method. It gets trickier when it comes to therapeutic benefits - i.e. regulating the resting heart rate or blood pressure, and even losing weight. In this regard, the study situation is not so clear, says Nieß. Sometimes the permanent method seems even more efficient.
HIIT probably harmless to healthy people
If in doubt, athletes can make decisions based on individual preferences. However, there is one limitation: the health risk. HIIT is not fundamentally more dangerous than other forms of training, says Nieß - at least for healthy people. Eifler advises beginners to be careful. HIIT is a trend - there is a risk that principles from competitive sports will be transferred to leisure sports without reflection. "But I think that is questionable, because it is physically and psychologically very stressful." (Vb; Source: Tobias Hanraths, dpa)