What is HIIT?
HIIT is the acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is an exercise method in which you separate short intervals of high intensity exercise with short recovery periods.
Research shows that HIIT is a suitable, effective method of training for all kinds of athletes from sprinters to endurance runners. HIIT can be tailored to suit the needs of any training regime, whether it is for weights, rowing, climbing, or any other sport specific workout.
HIIT isn’t great for isolation exercises and won’t be very effective; however, if you choose exercises that work majority muscle groups you should be in it to win it. Full body exercises such as sprinting, squats, deadlifts, and jump training should be really effective in getting you to your fat loss goals.
Benefits of HIIT
There are a multitude of benefits from HIIT, but one of the biggest must be how much time you will save. Most HIIT training routines last about 20 minutes or less with a maximum of about 30 minutes. So regardless of your super busy schedule you should be able to fit in a little HIIT circuit.
Another benefit is that due to the short time and high intensity of a HIIT routine you will probably find it is the easiest but toughest training you’ve ever done. HIIT brings and keeps your heart rate very close to its maximum, these are the conditions that allow you to burn the most calories, causing the most change in your body and burning the most fat.
The fat burn doesn’t just stop when you’re done though, due to a bodily state known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the term used to describe the measurable increase in oxygen intake following gruelling activity in an attempt to make up for the oxygen shortage that you experience during rest periods and post exercise.
To get rid of this ‘oxygen debt’ the body releases fatty acids as a way of fuelling recovery. This all happens in the time after your workout is complete. This benefit does not come from low intensity exercise, so you need to be putting in as much effort as possible, bringing your heart rate as close to maximum as possible, to realise the fat loss effect.
EPOC usually lasts for about 24 hours after exercise. Seems pretty great right? However if you don’t give yourself at least 48 hours of recovery time between workouts you could end up experiencing some adverse effects.
Why Does HIIT Work
A quick summary to what we’ve just discussed.
- HIIT is super short! Exercises are usually 20-30 minutes or less so anyone can fit it in!
- HIIT can increase the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can use and transport during exercise – known as VO2 max. You should aim for a high VO2 max because it will enable to use more fat as fuel than glucose. Fat stores are usually much larger than glycogen stores therefore it is more beneficial to use more fat for fuel.
- HIIT causes EPOC which results in higher levels of fat loss for up to 24 hours after you workout. You can’t put your body into EPOC with low intensity exercise.
- When you do HIIT you are also training your muscles to effectively remove metabolic waste from muscles between intervals (During recovery periods). Your muscles remove lactate and other by-products from high intensity exercise, and therefore enable your body to be ready for and more effectively handle another burst of high intensity exercise with less rest.
- HIIT is good way of boosting testosterone and growth hormone levels, both of which are responsible for muscle gain and fate loss, so you should be trying to keep these levels high.
There are endless combinations for HIIT workouts. Any combination can be done, but here are some examples:
HIIT for the track:
- Sprint down the straights and walk/jog along the curves for 20 minutes
- Do a half track sprint (about 200 meters) and walk/jog the other half. Again for 20 minutes
- Sprint an entire lap and then walk/jog the following lap. Do this for 20 minutes
If you don’t have access to a track you can replace distance with time, try and keep your sprint time half of your walk/jog time (e.g. a 15 second spring followed by a walk/jog for 30 seconds for 20 minutes).
HIIT for the gym:
- Squats reps for a minute then followed by rest for a minute, repeat for 20 minutes
- Deadlifts reps for a minute and then rest for a minute, repeat for 20 minutes
- Circuit training – mix squats, bench press, deadlifts, and pull-ups, do a minute of exercise for a minute of rest and repeat for 20 minutes.
- Bodyweight HIIT training – do a combination of squats, push-ups, and pull-ups for a minute followed by a minute of rest and repeat for 20 minutes.
- Box jumps – jump onto and off a box very quickly for a minute, rest for a minute and repeat for 20 minutes.
- Jump rope for a minute followed by a minute of rest. Repeat for 20 minutes.
So you might feel a little defeated after your first HIIT set, but that’s what makes it such an effective way of losing fat or building muscle, whatever you’re going for! Your ultimate goal should be able to exercise at high intensity for longer periods of time with shorter recovery periods each time.
If you like the idea of HIIT then you should definitely checkout the 7 Min Summer HIIT Workout.