What’s in a name?
Well in the case of HIIT, the name is very descriptive. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is very challenging. It takes your cardio or strength training workout to the next level, as you push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
You can do a HIIT workout with almost any type of activity, including running, cycling, swimming, elliptical, using a stair-climbing machine, rowing, or jumping rope, as well as for strength training with exercises like burpees, squats, and push-ups.
You work up a sweat fast, at a very intense level and then back off for a slower recovery period of about the same or greater length of time, followed by other rounds of high intensity and rest. Because you are pushing your limits, these workouts tend be shorter, rarely passing the 30-minute mark.
The strategy can also save you workout time…
You don’t have to work-out as long as you would if you were keeping a steady pace. HIIT workouts are vigorous, so it’s best to do no more than two or three a week. Also, avoid doing HIIT workouts on back-to-back days. You need to give your body time to recover to truly reap the benefits of these workouts, so that you can go just as hard at your next intense session.
HIIT workouts are scalable to any fitness level, making them a popular format for group fitness classes. HIIT is flexible and you can create different formulas for the work-to-rest ratio, but the most popular is 2:1. For example, you work for 60 seconds at your max and then slow it down for 30 seconds, repeating this pattern for 5 to 8 sets.
You’ll lose weight while you build muscle, and boost your metabolism. And there is a post-workout bonus; your body can continue to burn calories for about 3 hours after you finish the exercise. Compared to longer stretches of moderate-intensity running, cycling, or other aerobic exercises, studies show that HIIT improves cardio fitness nearly twice as much among people with heart disease.
In terms of strength improvements, not only have HIIT workouts proven to yield as much strength gain as more traditional resistance training in a shorter amount of time, but in some cases there were also greater improvements in strength compared to traditional resistance training. Furthermore, if your goal is to lose weight, research shows that HIIT workouts may outperform traditional cardio when it comes to fat loss. This is because HIIT workouts can increase fat burning and energy expenditure for several hours after exercise.
Here Is How You Can Try HIIT…
There are many ways to add high-intensity intervals to your exercise routine, so it isn’t hard to get started.
To begin, you just need to choose your activity (running, biking, jumping, etc.).
Then, you can experiment with different durations of exercise and recovery, or how long you are performing intense exercise and how long you are recovering.
Here are a few simple examples of HIIT workouts:
- Using a stationary bike, pedal as hard and fast as possible for 60 seconds. Then, pedal at a slow, easy pace for 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 15 to 30 minutes.
- After running to warm-up, sprint as fast as you can for 60 seconds. Then, walk or jog at a slow pace for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Perform squat leaps or lunges as quickly as possible for 60 to 90 seconds. Then, stand or walk for 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes.
While these examples can get you started, you should modify your own routine based on your own preferences.
There are many ways to implement HIIT into your exercise routine. Experiment to find which routine is best for you.
The Low Down on HIIT…
High-intensity interval training can be a very efficient way to exercise, and may help you burn more calories than you would with other forms of training or exercise. Calories burned from HIIT come from revving up metabolism, which may last for hours after exercise. Overall, HIIT offers many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise but requires a shorter amount of time.
These benefits include potentially lowering body fat, heart rate and blood pressure. HIIT may also help decrease blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity.
So, if you are chronically short on time and want to get healthier, consider taking a HIIT!