Study Finds How Long You Need To Do HIIT Intervals To Make An Impact

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant
Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Image by BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy

If you're a HIIT enthusiast, newly published research may just change the way you tackle your favorite workout.

When it comes to the intervals in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), timing matters if you want to improve your performance and get the most out of your workout. That's according to a new study by Liverpool John Moores University.

The researchers compared the timing of different HIIT workouts and may have identified the most optimal timing. Here's what they found.

Finding the optimal interval.

If you've somehow never heard of HIIT, it's short bursts (20 to 90 seconds) of high-intensity exercise with recovery in between—and people love it for its efficiency, both as a quick workout and a proven fat burner

But little research has looked at the effects of different interval lengths, so that's what this study did. 

The team studied the effects that two popular HIIT routines had on study participants over the course of several weeks. Twenty-six previously sedentary men and women performed HIIT three times a week for six weeks, with one group doing 60HIIT (six to ten 60-second intervals with 60 seconds of rest), and the other doing 30HIIT (four to eight 30-second intervals with 120 seconds of rest).

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60 is the magic number.

When the six weeks were up, findings suggested 60HIIT was more effective than 30HIIT.

The researchers tracked the participants' aerobic capacity, body composition, and arterial stiffness over the course of the study, and found that aerobic capacity had increased in the 60HIIT group.

Neither group saw a difference in body composition or arterial stiffness, but the 60HIIT group saw greater aerobic capacity where the 30HIIT group did not, suggesting 60HIIT did improve the participants' fitness overall.

Researcher Hannah Church says, "In order for people to get the most out of HIIT, which may be the answer to the difficulties of paying for and getting to the gym, we need to get the timing right. Our research showed just how important this is, because we found that 30-second intervals with 120 seconds of rest meant that participants' heart rates didn't stay up. One hundred twenty seconds is just too long to be resting for!"

Indeed, HIIT does offer all of us crunched for time with a workout that can be done quickly and at home. Now, with this new research, our training will be that much more effective.

Get started with this 12-minute HIIT workout, and check in with your body to be sure you're performing HIIT exercises safely.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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