If you are reading my blog, then you have definitely at some point in your fitness journey heard of, and probably even tried HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training.
HIIT is one of those exercise methods that on paper sounds like an amazing addition to a fitness routine, but many people don’t know how to start incorporating it or using it to achieve great fitness results.
I personally learned about HIIT several years ago, and at the time it just seemed like ALOT of work. However the benefits that I was reading about were crazy amazing, and that was enough to kick me in the boo-tay and get me to try it. Now HIIT is a part of my weekly fitness routine and I LOVE it!
SO..what is High Intensity Interval Training?
– HIIT is an exercise method that consists of short bursts of maximum effort followed by a period of recovery. For example, 30 seconds FAST ALL OUT EFFORT, follow by 1 minute of recovery movement.
HIIT training can be be done aerobically in the gym on cardio equipment such as the treadmill or elliptical, or at home with plyometric exercises, or out on a run. It can also be done anaerobically at the gym or home with weights.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
• Increased Lactate Threshold – Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles increases
• Anabolic Effect – Some studies show that interval training combined with consuming slightly more calories than you burn creates an anabolic effect, which helps you put on muscle. The opposite occurs with steady state cardio, which for long durations is catabolic.
HIIT training will accelerate fat loss and boost your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. In short your lower intensity cardio workouts will get easier, and you will soon be able to lift more, and push yourself more, reaching new fitness goals!
Also, HIIT training increases what is called the afterburn effect causing an increase in your metabolism causing you to burn more calories throughout your day; hours after you are done with your workout. And who doesn’t want to be burning that unwanted fat away while at their desk am I right?
HIIT vs. My normal cardio routine?
HIIT training is more effective than normal cardio for the reasons stated above; increased fat loss, and boost of aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
Bodybuilding.com says this:
“When you do a cardio session at the same pace the whole time, your body goes into what is called steady state. This means that your body has adjusted itself to the speed you are going and tries hard to conserve energy (calories). You will be able to avoid this and burn more calories and FAT by doing the interval training.”
“HIIT stimulates the body in a way that cannot be paralleled by other methods of cardio. Constant change which allows for higher intensity is the key to HIIT.”
I say, 60 minutes on the dreadmill NO MORE!
How often should I do HIIT training?
This is an important one. Because HIIT is so intense you do not need to do it everyday. In fact, please don’t.
When you are doing maximum effort cardio intervals your heart rate is skyrocketing. You are working the most important muscle in the body, and like any other muscle, it needs rest days. 🙂
When we work our legs we need to give them rest before we work them again or we will not see muscle gains. The same with our heart. We need to rest our heart, doing steady state cardio, walking, light jogging etc to see gains in our cardio stamina and fat burn.
To see positive results from HIIT you should be incorporating it into your routine 2-3 times per week.
Do I need equipment to do HIIT training at home?
If you are doing HIIT routines at home where you have a clock to time your maximum effort and recovery intervals then you don’t need any equipment, just your body and the motivation to work.your.butt.off.
However, there are some little things that you could purchase to make your HIIT routines more mobile: lets say you go on vacation, or it’s a gorgeous day and you take your workout to the park or your favorite running trail. Here is a short list of my favorite (inexpensive) equipment for a fat burning HIIT experience.
GymBoss Interval Timer – you can set intervals and the timer will beep each time an interval is up. It also has a handy dandy little clip so you can clip it to your shorts, tank, or sports bra.
Jump Rope – a fantastic tool for HIIT cardio at home or anywhere + it’s super packable
Yoga Mat – I use a yoga mat because my house has concrete floors, so for anything pushup/plank related it’s a nice bonus.
Towel – to wipe sweat! Seriously you will be sweating like nobody’s business, but you can also roll the towel and use it as an obstacle to jump over. Side jumps, long jumps, etc.
Stairway – I love to incorporate stair (box) jumps into my HIIT routines. I stand at the bottom of my stairs and jump the first two stairs, and then backwards to the start…this one is sure to get your heart rate up and shred your glutes!
How long should my HIIT workout last?
HIIT workouts are short workouts because you are giving maximum effort. All you need to do a HIIT workout is anywhere from 15-25 minutes. Also, make sure you do a dynamic warm-up and cool down and stretch.
When I do my HIIT workouts I vary the interval times often. Mostly because my body likes variety, and so does my mind. Variety in cardio is challenging, and oh so fun!! But the idea is, you want to go ALL OUT for a short interval and recover for a longer interval.
One of my favorite interval sets is 30 seconds all out/1minute recover. For example, if I’m doing my HIIT workout in the middle of a run, here’s what it would look like:
Warm up – light jog/ 5 min.
HIIT – 30sec, all out/1minute recover walk/jog – 20 min.
Cool down – light jog/ 5-7 min.
For your first workout I would recommend trying a 20sec on/ 2 minutes off interval set. As you build endurance and your heart builds muscle, giving you greater cardio capacity, you can experiment with different intervals and find out what works best for you.
How do I start?
When making your workout schedule for the week decide what days will be your HIIT training days, and pen in a HIIT workout or two.
Google HIIT workouts for some great ideas! And, then get out there and try it! It’s never too late to try something new, and HIIT is so fun, I promise you, there will be no boredom and your workout will be over before you know it.
Here’s a simple “home” HIIT workout to try:
*Also, if you are new to HIIT training, or coming back after an injury, please check with your doctor before adding anything new or intense. Use common sense, and listen to your body.
Questions: Is HIIT part of your current fitness routine? If so, what is your favorite HIIT workout?
Also, would you be interested in a post with more HIIT workouts, including strength HIIT?
I usually do at least 2 HIIT workouts/week. One of them is sandwiched into a run, like I talked about above, and the other usually plyometric based with lots of stair jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, etc.