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NZREPs shares research insights into the value of High Intensity Interval Training 

NZREPs shares research insights into the value of High Intensity Interval Training 
June 11, 2019

The New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals (NZREPs) has shared some research findings on the benefits and disadvantages associated with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). While some research shows HIIT improves heart health, other research suggests it can reduce fitness performance.

Since its arrival on the exercise scene a few years ago, HIIT has remained popular for its reported benefits to health, and for those with time restrictions that make longer workouts unrealistic. 

The simplest explanation of what HIIT is for the uninitiated is that is its repeated cycles of hard physical activity with active rest in between each bout of intense work. Its popularity is in part because HIIT has been shown to improve heart health, exercise levels, and reduce fat, while maintaining muscle mass or, in less active individuals, increasing it. 

University of Otago researchers have also recently discovered that high-intensity exercise can reduce or reverse the loss in heart function caused by type 2 diabetes. The study found that three months of HIIT improved heart function in adults with type 2 diabetes, without any change in medications or diet. The study subjects, which were middle aged adults, had an 80% adherence rate to the programme, which was unexpected due to the heart impairment causing exercise to be more difficult for diabetes sufferers, showing that appropriate HIIT can be achievable. 

More studies are showing these sort of benefits for a range of lifestyle conditions so it can be safely said that high intensity training should be considered as part of a regular programme of physical activity. However, it’s not a one size fits all solution, or a solution that should fully replace a current programme. 

A study reported in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness showed that participants in HIIT workouts experience a greater risk of injury, especially knees and shoulders. The study pointed out the benefits of HIIT training on a range of exercise outcomes, but commented on the risk of a ‘’one size fits all’ approach to many HIIT programmes that see participants working at a level they are not able to sustain safely. The authors of the study noted that workouts with inexperienced participants without supervision were one of the main causes for concern, recommending support and advice before embarking on a HIIT programme. 

From within the exercise industry, a 2018 study led by associate Professor Gottschall with Bryce Hastings, Head of Research at Les Mills resulted in evidence that any more than 30-40 minutes of HIIT in a maximum training zone per week can reduce performance and potentially result in a greater risk of injury, and does not contribute to higher results. In fact, too much HIIT can result in negative training effect. They recommended adding HIIT training in amongst a programme of varied exercise. 

For more information go to www.reps.org.nz

Image of Les Mills HIIT programme.

Related Articles

22nd January 2019 - NZREPS reviews the top Exercise and Wellness Trends for 2019

19th December 2018 - NZREPS highlights the benefits of strength and resistance training in fitness facilities

24th July 2018 - ExerciseNZ calls for tighter guidelines for high intensity workouts

22nd July 2018 - Les Mills’ Bryce Hastings suggests upper limit for HIIT training

25th March 2018 - Otago researchers reveal childhood predictors of becoming overweight or obese

10th March 2018 - NZREPs flags warnings over energy drinks and exercise

29th March 2017 - Study shows HIIT the best exercise for anti-ageing

26th March 2017 - NZREPs asks if a Sugar Tax is the Best Solution to Obesity?

25th October 2016 - NZREPs highlights the real cost of physical inactivity

25th March 2015 - NZREPS highlights the need to be physically prepared for sport

17th September 2014 - NZREPs highlights need for exercisers to ask key questions about High Intensity Training


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