In this article we will be exploring what high intensity interval training (HIIT) is, why it is so effective, and who it is designed for, and how to structure a HIIT workout. As a bonus, we will even include a TABATA style HIIT workout that you can complete either at home with minimal equipment or at your gym.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is exactly as the name depicts. It is a high intensity workout that is performed in intervals. In the time allotted for exercise, you are exerting yourself at 80-90% of your maximum effort for a short period of time and then recovering in between intervals.
Not only can HIIT workouts be a time saver, but they can also help you burn calories more effectively. During your HIIT workout your body uses larger amounts of oxygen than before your workout in an effort to restore your body back to normal levels. EPOC results in an overall higher calorie burn post exercise and according to MetabolicEffect.com it can increase your metabolism for up to 48 hrs post workout.
Is HIIT the only type of workout you need to lose weight and stay in shape?
The simple answer to this question is no. Especially if you are looking to lose weight. Although you are burning excess calories, you also need to work on increasing your muscle strength for optimal results. Muscles play a very important role in the fat loss process. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and and the physical site in your body where fat is used as energy. With this in mind, the more lean muscle tissue your body has, the more calories/energy you will burn because muscle tissue requires more energy. The best workout for fat loss would be a mixture of interval training mixed with a comprehensive strength training plan. A plan like this will also make you more effective in your interval training and allow you to burn even more calories.
More isn't always better. HIIT workouts are intense and should not be performed every day. You need to allow your body to recover in between your workouts. The best plan is to perform HIIT up to 3 times in one week but not more. 3 times a week will allow you to see results but also limit the possibility of potential injury.
How do you perform a HIIT Workout?
To experience the benefits of EPOC, the best movements are ones that recruit multiple large muscle groups. Focusing on areas like the quads, back, chest, hamstrings... will place a higher metabolic demand on the body.
A HIIT workout can be modified to whatever your fitness level may be. Just remember that you are looking to perform at 80-90% max during your "work" interval. A good gauge is the talk test. It should be difficult to carry on a conversation during a work interval. The work intervals can be longer or shorter depending on your needs and the same applies to the rest period between intervals. The rest period should be a time to help you prepare for your next high intensity work interval. Your rest and work intervals can even be equivalent when you first begin using HIIt workouts.
Ex: 20 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest or 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest...
If you are looking for more of a challenge then shorten the rest time between your intervals
Ex: 30 seconds of work 15 seconds of rest...
Now that we have discussed what a HIIT workout is and how it should be performed, I will give you a HIIT workout for you to do on your own. I am giving you the popular "TABATA" style format which is 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. If you are not physically able to perform this level, I would encourage you to change the timing to 20 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest.
If you are considering giving HIIT a try make sure you are cleared by your physician. Leave a comment. Let us know if you will give this TABATA a try!