Lacking Motivation To Exercise? Research Suggests HIIT Workouts Can Fix That

May 21, 2020

Research shows that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are more enjoyable than moderate continuous aerobic exercise. A workout that is more fun means you’re more likely to stick with it—it’s science.


The study, published in Harvard Men’s Health Watch, split 40 adults who did not exercise regularly into two groups. Both groups completed stationary bike workouts three times a week, but one group did their workouts HIIT style. The HIIT group completed ten rounds of one-minute-long bursts, where participants biked hard enough to reach 90-95% of their peak heart rate. After each burst (or high-intensity interval), they got one minute of recovery. The total HIIT workout took 20 minutes. The other group cycled at a moderate intensity, about 70-75% of their peak heart rate, continuously for 28 minutes.


After six weeks of this fitness regimen, the HIIT group had a 10% higher overall enjoyment score than the moderate intensity group. Individuals who did HIIT workouts reported enjoying exercise more each week, while those who did prolonged aerobic exercise reported no difference in enjoyment over time.


Not only did participants enjoy the HIIT workouts more, but they saw more physical benefits, too. The HIIT group improved twice as much (measured in terms of strength) than the moderate intensity group did. Lead researcher Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz says, “It appears that the stronger you get, the more you enjoy the workout. This may make you more motivated to continue.” A workout that is working for you makes you want to keep working it. Say that five times fast.


This particular study measured gains over time based on strength, but other research shows that HIIT workouts also burn more fat than longer periods of moderate exercise.


So, let’s get this straight—HIIT workouts take less time, build more strength, and burn more fat than longer periods of moderate aerobic exercise—no wonder they’re more enjoyable! What’s not to enjoy?


If you want to try HIIT workouts at home but don’t have any equipment, that’s no problem. Try this straightforward circuit from NBC News that only takes 15 minutes:


  • 60 Seconds Jumping High Knees. Alternate bringing one knee up to your chest at a time, adding in a little bounce to get your heart pumping.

  • 10 Squats. With your feet hips width distance apart, bend your knees and sit back as if you’re going to sit down in a chair, then stand back up using your glutes.


  • 10 Push Ups. Start in a plank position and lower yourself down by bending at the elbows. Don’t be afraid to drop to your knees if necessary.


  • 10 Leg Raises. Lying flat on your back, keep your legs straight and lift them up and down with control in order to engage your lower abs.


  • 20 Seconds Plank. Hold yourself up at the top of a push up position. Your body should form a straight line from the crown of your head to the heels of your feet. You can also drop to your knees here for a modified version.


Repeat this circuit 3 times for a full-body HIIT workout.

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