High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are for everybody who’s anybody. There is no other workout like it when it comes to you versus you. You set your intensity, you decide your results.
The beauty of a good HIIT workout is that on the screen it looks both monstrous (if you’re looking to make it count) and also swift (if you just want to get it all over with). Essentially, it appeals to all workout philosophies. And while it is often associated with the bodybuilding boys among you, us girls can certainly reap the rewards from this training style at the gym or at home.
Whether you’re a seasoned lifter, an avid gym goer looking to beat a plateau, or you’re just not a fan of the gym and working out it simply a matter of getting results fast, HIIT is for you.
What is High-intensity Interval Training?
High-intensity interval training involves short, intense bursts of high-intensity anaerobic exercises with lower intensity recovery periods. HIIT is most effective when you put maximum energy into an exercise followed by low intensity, low energy usage on the same exercise.
To put it in simpler terms, it involves an exercise or a series of them, which you will complete in a set amount of time. These are usually exercises that can be altered by intensity. HIIT training requires you to perform these exercises at an intense rate that drives your heart rate up to a pounding level, followed by a rest period in which you do minimal or no exercise.
The aim with HIIT is to get your heart rate up to 90% for the duration of the intense interval. In terms of pace, this means sprinting or the equivalent depending on your exercise of choice.
The benefits of HIIT
It’s pretty much all good news for toners and people on a weight loss journey.
One of the great thins about HIIT is that it burns calories and fat. Not only does it burn calories over a shorter period of time, you will lose mass without losing muscle and will continue to burn calories and fat after you’re done.
Not only that – HIIT is also great for boosting your metabolism. This is because it uses more oxygen than non-interval workouts and because of the excess oxygen you consume, your metabolism increases to burn calories at a faster rate.
The other major benefit of HIIT is that it’s all over in 20-30 minutes and that’s all you require to get a good workout. No long hours slogging in the gum – heck you can even design your own HIIT circuits at home.
30-minute HIIT workout
Your plan will work like this: after a stretch to warm up you will work out continuously except during designated rests. There are no rules on which exercises you choose, but the most effective way to approach HIIT is to focus on larger muscle groups.
The workout involves 5 sets. Each set involves 4 exercises. You perform each exercise for 30 seconds and then take a 30-second rest at the end of each set. Following that 30 second rest, you will perform burpees for 30 seconds.
Here we’ve put together an example of a workout plan, which you may alter to suit your preferences. Don’t worry if you don’t have any equipment at hand – you can choose an alternative bodyweight exercise that works the same muscles.
Standing dumbbell shoulder press
Forward and backward lunge
Kneel to high skip
Boxing holding dumbbells
Inverted push ups
Alternate single leg squats
Leg raises (lying on back)
High knee jog on spot
How often should you do HIIT?
It all depends on your goals, but it is recommended that you don’t exceed three HIIT sessions a week because of the obvious stress it causes on your body.
HIIT involves going from 0-100, which puts your heart to work in a serious way. Remember that it will count as exhaustive muscle work. HIIT is best fitted into a broader workout week, and your body needs to rest too so it’s a good idea to end your workout week with a HIIT session so that your muscles won’t be too fatigued.
Take home message
It’s important to remember that HIIT is a framework for a training goal, not a one size fits all remedy. While some people may prefer a class structure with a series of exercises or HIIT circuits set out for you, for anyone who has a specific goal in mind HIIT allows you to tailor your 30-minute workout to suit your requirements or which exercises you enjoy doing most.
For an all over body workout that helps tone your muscles and improve your cardio and endurance, opt for a variety of exercises that targets your main muscle groups rather than focusing on one single muscle. Compound movements are the best for working multiple muscles at one time, and as such they burn the most calories too!
Another top tip if the combine cardio based sprints, such as running or rowing, with weights in a HIIT session so you get your heart rate going but you are also working on strengthening your muscles at the same time.
The great thing about HIIT is that you can combine whichever exercises you want to make an effective circuit, so I encourage you to experiment with creating different HIIT routines to help you reach your fitness goals.