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HIIT for Beating Insulin Resistance

If you have type 2 diabetes, exercise is absolutely essential for treating, and beating the condition altogether.


That’s right…beating it. Not just “controlling” or “managing” the problem, but actually reversing it.

The best thing about exercising specifically for insulin resistance is that it exerts its effects very quickly. You don’t have to wait for 6-12 months to see changes, it can happen right in front of your eyes, and can last for up to 48 hours, some studies show.

So with all the different programs available these days, which one is best for Diabetes and beating Insulin Resistance?

Why HIIT is Best for Beating Insulin Resistance

When it comes to metabolic disease, the most important aspect to consider is intensity.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is becoming very popular – partly because it has such dramatic benefits, but also because it doesn’t take very long to do!

HIIT should be incorporated into what you are already doing, but only needs to be performed for 20-25 minutes, 2-3 times per week to see amazing results. The HIIT technique involves short periods of high intensity exercise (hence the name), followed by long periods of recovery – repeated multiple times.

Here’s the science-y bit: HIIT has fast become the modality of choice for people with Diabetes because of its effects on insulin sensitivity.

How? When performing HIIT exercise, it’s the Type 2 muscle fibres (fast-twitch) that do a lot of the work – this stimulates the muscles to take up glucose from the blood to be used as fuel. Hence, blood glucose concentrations decrease.

The really interesting part is that research has shown that this happens whether insulin is present or not. Therefore, this approach will also work with people with Type 1 diabetes.

In addition, the adrenaline released to maintain the HIIT may help with fat loss – as the muscles use up the glucose from the blood, the body will turn to fat as the primary fuel source.

hiit insulin

So, how do you do HIIT?


Exercise training example

HIIT on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each HIIT session involves the following:

  • 3 minutes of warm up
  • 10 sprints lasting 30 seconds, alternated with 60s of recovery
  • 2 minutes of cool down

Total time per workout session: 20 minutes, with 20 of those spent doing the HIIT protocol.

HIIT can be performed doing any exercise – bike, running, lifting weights, swimming. The key is intensity – it’s got to be hard.

Of course, exercise is just one element to the diabetes puzzle.


To completely reverse the condition it is essential to:


Want to get started? Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you. 

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