HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training) vs Pilates: which exercise regime shows the greatest results?

There are thousands of workout regimes on the market, promising to help you get fit and reach your health and fitness goals, but which are actually worth the hype? Two of the most favoured regimes at the moment are the somewhat recently popularized HIIT and the long-withstanding practice of pilates. 

HIIT is an acronym for ‘high intensity interval training’, a recent newcomer to the workout scene, this workout is all about efficiency. HIIT promises to deliver the biggest payoff in the smallest amount of time in terms of exercise, with research backed by physiologists in the early 2010’s. HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of high intensity exercise (intervals), followed by short periods of rest before hitting the next interval. To be considered a true HIIT workout, according to researchers from accredited institutions, these intervals must push the heart rate to 80% of its maximum capacity. High intensity indeed.

Pilates on the other hand is a stark contrast to the intensity of a HIIT workout. Where a HIIT circuit might be accomplished in 20 to 30 minutes, a typical pilates class lasts 45 minutes to an hour. Pilates is a low-intensity exercise that focuses on movements to strengthen the body while also promoting postural alignment and flexibility. This workout promotes slow, deep movements that stretch and strengthen the body over time, making it more of a practice than a workout. 

So which of these popular fitness regimes is the best way to get your daily exercise in? This, it seems, is entirely dependent on your goals. Pilates and HIIT target vastly different fitness and health concerns, with pilates focusing more on strength, flexibility, and slow, intentional movement, and HIIT prioritizing cardiovascular endurance and burning fat. If you’re interested in a mindful workout to add into your lifestyle, experts agree that pilates is a sustainable method to build muscle while decreasing stress and improving flexibility and balance. For those number-oriented however, a HIIT workout can help you achieve specific weight loss and fat burning goals by targeting key areas and prioritizing cardio. 

The best workout? Most experts suggest a mixture of both methods, “Our bodies kind of have two energy systems. One of those energy systems is activated when we do low intensity training. Things like walking, jogging or pilates, where we’re working on our muscle strength. The other system is activated when we’re doing stuff that is very, very difficult like high intensity interval training – jumping, sweating and when your heart rate is very high. You can’t just work one of those energy systems, you need to work them both to be fully healthy,” writes Hollie Grant in her book The Model Method, which explores the benefits of a balanced routine combining HIIT and Pilates.

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