HIIT is the hottest thing going in exercise right now. HITT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. There are many reasons HIIT is popular but the main one is that it cuts your workout time in half or even less. Intervals of high intensity exercise are alternated with short rest periods so you get a lot of work done in a shorter period of time. There is no particular formula used when doing HIIT. The intensity is determined by your level of fitness, and sessions can last anywhere from 4 minutes – 30 minutes, however 15-20 minutes is the average.
The workouts will vary between cardio and strength but a common ratio that I like to use is 1:2. Always include a warm-up period of 2 minutes performing some type of light cardio. This type of exercise is extremely taxing and you may need to take a 1 minute recovery break after performing several interval sessions.
Here is an example of a 20 minute cardio HIIT workout:
Your Interval series is: walking or sprinting for 1 minute; slow down (but still keeping a brisk pace) recovery for 2 minutes. Each set equals 3 minutes.
•Warm-up 2 minutes doing some type of light cardio.
•Perform 3 interval sets (total time 11 minutes)
•Steady-state recovery, slower for 1 minute (total time 12 min.)
•Perform 2 interval sets (total time 18 min.)
•Cool-down for 2 minutes
•This total sequence takes 20 minutes
You can vary the workouts any way you want: change your ratio, change the intensity or the length of your intervals.
You can also use HIIT to perform a strength and resistance workout. When I do this type of workout I like to use counting rather than watching a clock because it’s easier as you change from one exercise to another. You want to use the heaviest weight possible and still be able to keep your form and avoid injury. Here is an example of a strength and resistance HIIT workout, be sure to include a 2 minute warm-up using some form of light cardio:
•Repeat this sequence 3 times, resting for only 30 seconds between exercises.
•Perform 20 bench presses
•Perform 25 criss-crosses
•Perform 25 bicep curls
•Perform 15 squats
•Cool-down 2 minutes, light stretching.
•This workout will take approximately 15 minutes. You can change it to be longer or shorter by varying the exercises in the series or the number of times you repeat the sequence.
HIIT workouts are demanded and intense, it is recommended that you only do them two to three times a week, and never back to back.
Now that you’ve seen examples, let’s look at why you should do an HIIT workout. Here are some of the reasons to do HIIT workouts:
•Efficiency: you can get a great workout in half or less of the time of a regular workout.
•You burn more fat. The intensity of the workout burns a lot of calories. Also your metabolism goes into overdrive and you will continue to burn fat and calories for the next 24 hours.
•Heart Health: In an HIIT workout you will be pushing yourself to your limits. In most workouts the heart does not reach maximum heart rate, but in HIIT it will. One study stated that after 8 weeks of HIIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.
•Adaptability: You can adapt HIIT workouts to any type of exercise you prefer; walking, running, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, and more. You can do these workouts almost anywhere and you don’t need special exercise equipment for most HIIT workouts. You can do a walking workout almost anywhere. Be creative.
•Challenge: HIIT workouts are challenging. When you have completed one you will definitely know that you have worked out and hard. You don’t want to work so hard that you risk injury; you don’t want to be sore the next day; and you don’t want to over-exert yourself to the point that you can’t exercise at all. But you do want to proud of yourself for completing these challenging workouts. Next week I will present a strength and resistance HIIT workout.
Watch for my next article which will include a detailed Strength and Resistance Training HIIT Workout.
Always check with a medical professional before starting or changing any exercise routine. Be healthy, be happy.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Pete McCall, MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion
To Purchas my EBOOK click here: Exercise Basics
Also include links to other HIIT articles