High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This type of workout helps many accomplish their fitness goals, but like anything, there can be a lot of questions on why exactly it’s so beneficial.
Let’s clear up some commonly asked questions.
What exactly is a HIIT workout?
As mentioned above, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This is a workout style that requires short intervals of going all in (intense cardio) followed by a rest period. Since your body is working in overdrive, your heart rate increases allowing you to burn extra calories.
If you are really reaching the highest intensity for your body, the increased fat-burning potential can continue for DAYS after the workout is done.
While the name HIIT training may sound scary, it’s basically just alternating between intense periods and rest periods.
What are the main benefits of HIIT?
- Burns more calories, while maintaining muscle mass
- HIIT can produce *the afterburn effect
- Burns increased fat stores
*The afterburn effect is when you continue burning fat after you’re done working out. Your body needs to work harder to deliver more oxygen to your muscles, which is why you are burning calories longer.
How long should I be doing HIIT?
HIIT workouts should be between 30-60 minutes with warm up and cool down included. The hardcore portion of the workout should typically be done within 15-20 minutes. It is not advised to take the workout longer because you may not be pushing yourself to the intended intensity and you won’t have the chance to reap the afterburn benefits.
You need to be getting your heart rate in a zone that is close to your maximum heart rate during work periods. Every person’s maximum heart rate is different, and you need to monitor what intensity is hard for you.
The intensity can also be changed by changing up the work-to-rest ratios. Beginners may use a 1:2 ratio, meaning you train all out for 60 seconds, and then rest for two minutes. As you do more HIIT workouts and get stronger, the work to rest ratio can change.
Styles of HIIT workouts
Tabata involves 20 seconds of maximum work time, followed by 10 seconds of rest, usually for 8 rounds. Each round lasts 4 minutes, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but trust me when I say, you will be soaked with sweat by the end!
Every minute on the minute, or EMOM, is when the entire workout is broken up into one-minute intervals. During the 60 seconds, your aim is to complete a specific amount of reps of an exercise before the end of the interval.
The only rest you get is if you complete all the reps before the 60 seconds is up. After every minute, you’ll start a new minute and repeat the process.
As many reps/rounds as possible, or AMRAP, is when you repeat an exercise or rounds of several exercises, as many times as you can within a certain timeframe. This style of training is used for athletes and conditioning and is designed to push your body to its max.
HIIT can be cardio, strength exercises, or my personal favorite – both!
It also isn’t necessarily always high-impact. While you may think things like burpees and tuck jumps are the best HIIT exercises, you can actually do HIIT sprints using an elliptical, treadmill, or swimming using the work to rest ratios mentioned earlier.
Here are a few ideas for getting in a HIIT cardio workout:
Getting all of the jabs, upper cuts, and hooks in is no easy task! Some people may say that boxing is not only a great workout, but it’s also a great way to shake of your stress from the day.
Jumping rope is one of the great exercises that involves a lot of muscle groups while also getting your heart racing. It’s great for coordination, it’s inexpensive, and you can pretty much do it anywhere. There are also weighted jump ropes to help you tone up.
Try incorporating jump rope into your interval training, and you can include some high knees or double-unders to make it extra challenging!
How often should you do a HIIT workout?
You might already be sold on how great HIIT workouts are, maybe you’re even tempted to increase the number of HIIT workouts you’re doing, especially since it is a short workout…but before you start doing HIIT workouts every day, remember that your body needs recovery time.
Just like any form of exercise, if you are not getting sufficient rest you can put yourself at risk of overtraining or an injury. Make sure you are taking a break for a day or two between each session since HIIT requires a lot from your body.
Include HIIT in your fitness routine
Even though HIIT workouts are short and sweet, they can have benefits for your body long after you finish the workout. Don’t be scared to try this style of workout! Mixing your workouts up can help you to avoid a plateau and it keeps working out interesting.
Good luck, you got this!