Should your fitness routine consist only of HIIT workouts? Probably not. But, incorporating high-intensity intervals into your training schedule a few times per week can help you see results faster, says CrossFit trainer Hannah Eden, creator of the 28-Day Fat Torch guide.
In fact, compared to steady cardio exercise, HIIT burns more fat. One study published in the International Journal of Obesity had participants exercise over a 15-week period of time. Researchers found that fat mass decreased much more for the people who performed just 20 minutes of cycling intervals, three times a week, compared to people who did 40 minutes of steady cycling the same number of times per week.
More fat burn in less time is just one of the many reasons why interval workouts rock. Eden also notes that HIIT workouts are super enjoyable and efficient. Here, inspired by her 28-Day Fat Torch guide, Eden gives us nine reasons why every training schedule should incorporate intervals.
And if you like the tips you read here, check out the 28-Day Fat Torch guide for even more fitness advice.
1. THEY’RE TIME EFFICIENT
By combining strength training and intense cardio exercises into one timed workout, HIIT targets multiple muscle groups while increasing cardio fitness. “You’ll reap the most benefits in the least amount of time,” Eden says.
2. THEY’RE ENGAGING AND FUN
“Since HIIT workouts don’t take much time, you won’t get bored and will definitely stay engaged,” Eden says. “They are a lot more enjoyable than long, low-intensity workouts.”
3. YOU’LL BURN CALORIES FOR HOURS
HIIT burns more calories than continuous exercise due to the afterburn effect. “You will continue burning calories for about two hours after your workout is complete,” Eden says.
4. HIIT BOOSTS ENDURANCE
HIIT can improve your endurance and overall health. “It improves your blood pressure, which in turn fuels your body and brain to allow you to keep going for longer,” Eden says.
5. THERE'S SO MANY VARIATIONS TO TRY
Eden likes to incorporate some strength movements into her programming. She says the options are endless, and strength movements incorporated with intense cardio enhance your results. “HIIT does not limit you to sprinting it out for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off,” Eden says. “You can constantly switch up your training. The sky is the limit!”
6. HIIT IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEART
HIIT will increase the flexibility and elasticity of the arteries and veins in your heart. “Your heart is a muscle, just like the rest of your body,” Eden says. “The more flexibility you have, the easier it is to move.”
7. HIIT WORKOUTS ARE TOLERABLE, EVEN FOR BEGINNERS
HIIT training includes short bursts of exercise. So, if you’re new to exercising or not super passionate about fitness, HIIT workouts are great options. “You’re more likely to say no to a five-mile run than to a 12-minute workout,” Eden says. “Yet, it will leave you on your back wondering WTF just happened.”
8. THE GAINS ARE SAFE
HIIT is an effective way to burn fat without losing the muscle mass that you have worked so hard to grow. “Long, steady cardio takes longer to tap into the fat-burning zone and burns muscle that you want to keep,” Eden says. “HIIT training allows you to burn fat without affecting your muscle.”
9. YOU’LL BE CONSTANTLY CHALLENGED
There is no ceiling with HIIT, and if a workout feels too easy, Eden says you just need to move faster. “I can teach you exercises and educate you on health and fitness,” Eden says, “But, I can’t teach you to push. That is in your control. Every HIIT workout is as hard as you make it.”
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.