Get Off Your Cycling or Rowing Seat!
You Can Build Impressive Strength, Muscle Power, and Muscle Endurance with MM-HIIT
Everyone loves a fitness acronym, but the HIIT workout is popular for way more than its cool-sounding name. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It involves warming up as you usually would – don’t want to strain those muscles! – and then doing bursts of very-high-intensity activity for 30 to 60 seconds followed by 15 seconds of either rest, shaking out, or lower-intensity activity.
A HIIT workout might go on for half an hour to an hour, and most HIIT fans repeat their workouts or variations on them at least three times a week. The exercise often focuses on cardio, and many fitness fans use a cycling or rowing machine or a running treadmill to go for those bursts of intense pulling, pushing, or running that get the heart racing.
We all know that a healthy cardiovascular system promotes overall health, including fighting the very real risks of diseases like:
- Heart disease
But science is discovering that sticking with cardio and cardio alone might not be the best way to get a great workout for holistic health. Enter Multimodal HIIT, or MM-HIIT. Multimodal means that you go beyond cardio to include strength training, full-body exercises such as burpees, and any other activity you can reasonably do in short bursts to tone, strengthen, and improve your overall fitness. Expanding your focus to include muscle training, strength, and endurance could give you even better health benefits than traditional HIIT training alone.
MM-HIIT – How Did It Start?
Although the acronym sounds cool and modern, HIIT training has been around for nearly a century. The first recorded instance of HIIT training harks back to the 1924 Olympics. Paavo Nurmi from Finland, often called the “Flying Finn,” used intense interval training to improve his running. His collection of Gold medals shows the success of this plan.
Moving into the 1930s, you'll see that another Scandinavian, this time from Sweden, created Fartlek training. Gosta Holmer worked on this high-intensity training regime for coaching runners who would go on to hold world records. "Fartlek" means “Speed Play,” and it focuses on bursts of intense speed followed by short periods of recovery.
Speed play might go like this:
- 1 minute intense sprint
- 1 minute slow jog
- 2 minutes fast
- 2 minutes slow
- 3 minutes fast
- 3 minutes slow
- 2 minutes fast
- 2 minutes slower
- 1 minute intense
- 1 minute slow down
While some of these bursts might be longer than those in HIIT workouts today, it’s clear that even in the early 20th century, experienced coaches were beginning to understand the real benefits of the high-intensity workout.
TRADITIONAL HIIT vs MM-HIIT
Traditional HIIT is clearly all about cardio. Considering that it started as an aid to runners, that’s no surprise. But not everyone wants to be an ace runner. And that’s okay.
Many folks seek effective workouts that will:
- Improve muscle tone all over the body
- Improve overall strength
- Improve stamina and endurance
That’s where MM-HIIT comes in. Although a healthy cardiovascular system is vital for overall health and wellbeing, it’s not the ultimate goal for most fitness regimes. In fact, most of you who enjoy fitness apps and fitness videos already have or are working toward a healthier cardiovascular system. However, your daily or biweekly workouts are about something more than that. They're about focusing on the parts of you that you want to improve.
MM-HIIT employs a range of exercise methods, including but not limited to:
- Weight lifting
- Kettlebell swings and lifts
- Step aerobics
- Bench press work
- Battle ropes
- Resistance bands
As you can see from our list of exercises, the MM-HIIT workout goes way beyond cardio and into full-on strength training, muscle toning, and overall fitness. Plus, because it focuses somewhat on weights and strength, it can help build healthier bones that may reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis, especially later in life.
Benefits of MM-HIIT
While we’re not suggesting that you give up on the rowing or cycling machine altogether, we know there is plenty of compelling evidence to suggest that the multimodal method of a HIIT workout could be the healthier way to go.
In 2015, Stephanie Buckley et al. conducted very detailed research into the muscle function and metabolic performance of female athletes engaging in HIIT workouts. They chose 32 women to take part. Researchers gave half of them ROW-HIIT, literally 60 seconds of rowing followed by 3 minutes of rest, six times in a row, three times a week. The other half also exercised for the same amount of time but did a mix of strength training, squats, and exercises using resistance accessories. Both groups gave it their all in every session.
The results might surprise you. The research team used a variety of methods to assess muscle strength, muscle endurance, and muscle power before and after the study. For muscle strength, the differences before and after for the ROW-HIIT group were negligible. However, the MM-HIIT participants showed a significant increase in muscle strength.
MM-HIIT had a slight increase in muscle power, where the ROW-HIIT team showed little to no increase here. The ROW-HIIT team did show modest increases in muscle endurance, but the MM-HIIT participants showed a huge increase in muscle endurance. In fact, some results showed that those engaging in the MM-HIIT workout more than doubled their muscle endurance.
There are even more benefits of the multimodal method of working out. According to research completed in 2017, HIIT training is indicated as beneficial to blood pressure. Those with normal and high blood pressure took part in the study, and individuals with higher blood pressure saw significant reductions when performing regular HIIT workouts.
MM-HIIT could even increase your focus, motor skills, and social skills! It sounds too good to be true, but studies show that multimodal HIIT three times a week improves the quality of life in ways that go beyond general fitness.
How to Work HIIT into Your Own Fitness Regime
The great thing about MM-HIIT is that, like our very own TriadXP, you can completely personalize your fitness routine to your requirements. You know that you want to go beyond cardio, but is it strength training you want to focus on? Tightening your core? Endurance? Whatever your focus is, you can work in the fitness equipment and exercises that are right for you.
If you want to take your HIIT workout to the next level, you don’t want to get too comfy on that rowing or cycling seat! Cardio has its place, but it’s the combination of strength and endurance training alongside effective cardio that gives you the best results.
Think about the exercises you enjoy most and feel most accomplished in afterward. Can you work those into a HIIT regime? Squats are popular because you can do them a little deeper every time, making them a real high-intensity win. Weights are also great as you can up the weight just a little every time you feel your strength increasing. Once you have your core workout ready to go, you can keep tweaking and honing it to match your improving strength, tone, and endurance.
TriadXP can help by connecting you to your favorite fitness experts. We’ve converted their best-selling content into the best mobile exercise routines you can carry in your pocket. These dynamic workouts use a range of visual and audio cues to help you stay focused on your workout and in the zone. The best thing about these workouts is that you can modify and personalize them to meet your exact needs, creating an MM-HIIT program that focuses on your personal strength and endurance journey.
Visit TriadXP.com for a variety of mobile exercise programs you can follow and perform with the free TriadXP fitness app.
Writer Byline: Mabh Savage is a health and fitness writer who revels in finding out the science behind your favorite workouts and dietary choices. She’s a busy mom, so she knows how vital it is to get the most out of your fitness regime.