If you’re an avid exerciser, you’ve likely heard the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT). The concept is to exercise for a shorter period of time at a higher intensity, which is supposed to burn more calories and work your heart more effectively. The claim is that it helps with weight loss, muscle development, and to get out of that “exercise rut.” However, new studies show that HIIT training affects men and women differently. (1)
HIIT Works Differently for Men and Women
Researchers studied the effects on men and women who both practiced regular high intensity sprint interval training. The idea behind the study was to see how the different levels of energy expenditure affected the heart, muscles, and hormones in both men and women. Not surprisingly, both the men and women both burned more calories than during a regular sprint session, insulin levels decreased, endurance improved. (1)
What researchers did not expect was how training affected men and women’s development. The study found that men had a huge advantage when it came to building muscle by using sprint interval training than the women in the group. This may help prove that sprint training can help men build more lean muscle mass than it can for women. (1)
Researchers concluded that due to the differences in skeletal structures of men and women, it’s likely the reason why the men were able to put on more lean muscle through the training than women. They deemed it’s also why men seem to carry more lean muscle than women and can gain more lean muscle mass in a shorter period of time. (1)
This doesn’t mean that women should give up sprints or any other type of interval training. High intensity interval training is still beneficial, can still promote fat loss, and is still a proven way to gain endurance and strength, even if it comes a bit slower for women. (1)
How Does HIIT Actually Work?
The concept is that the body has to expend more oxygen during high intensity interval training than when it does during a moderately based exercise such as walking or even running at a consistent pace. The more oxygen expended, the higher the heart rate, which improves the heart muscles and overall endurance. (2) This can increase stamina, along with prevent obesity and diabetes due to the way it affects insulin levels. (3)
How to Practice HIIT
To try sprint interval training, start running at a moderate pace and then run as fast as you can for thirty seconds to one minute. Then walk at a normal pace for another minute or two, and then repeat over and over for a total of 30 minutes. Just remember to rest and only incorporate it into your exercise routine between 3 to 5 times per week so your muscles have time to recover. (2)
While it may not always be fun while exercising, sprint interval training may be more exciting (and less time consuming) than a mundane elliptical workout, eh?
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