Why HIIT is the exercise to do, even if you hate exercise

It’s the workout program loved by celebs and fitness experts the world over – but why is HIIT so addictive?

It seems science may have pinpointed why HIIT – high-intensity interval training – is so popular.

The opposite of a long and steady workout, HIIT workouts incorporate bursts of intense exercise at maximum effort followed by a short period of rest or active recovery.

The idea is that you burn more fat in less time. What’s not to love?

Research has already shown that as well as torching calories, high-intensity intermittent exercise improves overall aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

Now Canadian researchers have found HIIT enjoyment actually increases as time passes.

For those of us for who, a) hate working out; and b) get bored easily, this may be just the news we are waiting for.

Why HIIT is addictive

“It’s well known that people who enjoy their exercise routine are much more likely to stick to it,” says Dr Samantha Hoffmann, lecturer at Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.

“And it’s been shown that HIIT tends to be equally or more enjoyable than traditional moderate-intensity exercise.

“Rather than dropping out after a few weeks, you may even enjoy it more than when you first started.

“And, for those who struggle to find time to exercise, it has the added benefit of being much more time-efficient than traditional exercise.”

Dr Hoffmann says exercising with a friend and incorporating an activity that you like – such as cycling, hiking, or team sport – are two extra ways of making exercise more enjoyable and hopefully turning it into a routine.

“Exercise enjoyment in the first few weeks of a new routine can be especially important for preventing dropout and making sure you adhere to your new program long-term,” she says.

The multiple benefits of HIIT

Dr Hoffmann, an exercise physiologist, says the benefits associated with HIIT include an increase in aerobic fitness and muscle mass, and decreases in lifestyle-related disease risk, blood pressure and body fat.

“For those who report a lack of time as one of the major barriers to being physically active, one of the most attractive benefits is that it is a time-efficient training strategy with a relatively small amount of total exercise – as little as 10 minutes,” she says.

“Despite this small total amount of exercise, HIIT has been shown to enhance markers of health and fitness to a similar or greater extent than traditional moderate-intensity exercise, such as going for a 30-minute jog.”

Fit Pharmacist’s HIIT workout

The Fit Pharmacist Holly Louise says if you don’t have access to a gym or are low on time, this high intensity interval circuit will have you burning maximum calories in minimum time using only your bodyweight.

Perform each exercise at high intensity for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds rest, before moving on to the next.

Complete three to five rounds in total.

Reverse lunges

reverse lunge

These are an effective exercise to strengthen the muscles of the lower body.

You can target the glutes, hamstrings and quads all in one simple motion.

Mountain climbers

mountain climbers

This is one of the best core exercises you’ll find.

It combines the difficulty of a plank, deep core stabilisation and alternating knee drives towards your chest.

Jump squats

jump squat

This squat variation increases your explosive power, improves upper and lower body strength, and burns calories faster than regular squats.

Bonus: They work your core, too.

Bicycle crunches

bicycle crunch

One the biggest advantage of the bicycle crunch is its ability to target all three of the major muscles of the abdominal region more than any other abdominal exercise.


push ups

Push ups are one of the best upper-body exercises because they work everything – your chest, back, shoulders, arms and your core. They’re also a great calorie burner, too.

Written by Liz McGrath.