High intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, is emerging as one of the most efficient ways to improve your fitness. It’s not hard to see why this style of training is so popular. In one HIIT workout you can reap a host of benefits in a short amount of time. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? There is one caveat- be prepared to push yourself. A HIIT workout doesn’t last long, so embrace the discomfort to create change. If you put the intense in high intensity interval training your body will thank you in so many ways.
How Does It Work?
A high intensity interval workout is broken into short (intense) periods of work, followed by a period of recovery. A total workout can last anywhere from 20-60 minutes. During the working periods, you want to train at 80-95% of your maximum heart rate. That basically means it should be nearly impossible to talk. This is the time to dig deep, push beyond your comfort zone, and move as if every round is your last. The rest periods may last up to as long as the working period and should feel comfortable.
Versatility is also one of the great aspects of high intensity interval training. It can be done without any equipment using your own bodyweight, or it can breathe new life into a stale cardio workout performed on a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike. This way of training is awesome for busting boredom.
Why Is It Helpful?
HIIT has been shown to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It helps reduce body weight, while maintaining muscle mass. Alternating between working and resting teaches your body to use energy in an efficient manner. These type of workouts improve your body’s ability to supply fuel and oxygen during physical activity (i.e. endurance,) and training your body in an anaerobic zone, when no oxygen is available, can help to improve blood flow.
Utilizing interval training can deliver the same results and health benefits as steady-state cardio in a shorter time span. These intense workouts have the ability to boost your metabolism for up to 2 hours afterward due to excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption. This just means that your body worked so hard it needs to use extra energy in order to restore itself. Who doesn’t want to burn calories on the couch?
High intensity interval workouts are very taxing on the body, so they should be limited. Performing 2 HIIT sessions a week on nonconsecutive days is plenty to feel the benefits. If you’re short on time or feeling like you need to shake things up, try adding some intervals to your routine. It may just be your new favorite way to sweat!
*Pick your favorite piece of cardio equipment.
- Warm-up at an easy pace for 5 minutes.
- Bump it up to a moderate pace for 1 minute (it should be hard to hold a conversation,) followed by 1 minute of recovery at an easy pace. Repeat this sequence 5x.
- Step it up from a moderate pace to a sprint for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of easy recovery. Repeat 8x.
- Keep your sprint pace, but add a moderate amount of incline or resistance. Hold this for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of recovery at an easy pace. Repeat 4x.
- Spend the last 5 minutes returning to a comfortable pace and cooling down.