High Intensity Interval Training has been all the craze in the fitness world. And for good reason! It is an absolutely essential part to any fitness regimen.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is a form of training that involves alternating periods of intense work with periods of moderate work or even complete rest. Periods of high intensity MUST be performed at maximum capacity for it to be effective. Work periods can consist of any (preferably explosive) exercise – from sprints, to kettlebell swings, to squat jumps and donkey kicks.
How it works
During high intensity periods, your body is pushed into anaerobic mode – where the consumption of oxygen isn’t enough to supplement the intensity of exercise. It sounds like a bad thing but it is not. This anaerobic zone is completely safe and brings a whole host of health benefits to the body.
Because your body is starving for oxygen during the workout itself, this creates an oxygen debt. So even after the workout, your body will continue to “search” for oxygen to recover. This is called the afterburn effect, i.e. your body will continue to torch fat and burn calories long after the workout is over. Burning calories at rest?! Yes please.
After a long drive, your car engine continues to stay warm as it gradually cools down to resting temperature. The same thing happens for our body metabolism after a HIIT workout.
Why You Need It
Lets face it, who has the time for 2 hour runs? And why run for 2 hours when you can torch the same amount of calories in a quick 20-30 minute workout? The afterburn effect from a HIIT session can last anywhere from 24-48 hours, depending on the intensity of your workout. This means your body metabolism stays elevated – burning calories and shedding fat – even at rest!
Preserve Muscle Mass
Unlike traditional steady state cardio, HIIT workouts preserve muscle mass while burning fat. This results in an ideal toned look.
Pushing your body into the anaerobic zone does wonders for your heart. Research shows that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could cycle for twice as long as they could previously.1 HIIT strengthens your heart better, and faster compared to traditional cardio exercise.
The variety of HIIT workout programs available today make workouts anything but a bore. You are constantly challenged and pushed to your limits. The feeling you get when you push through something supposed to break you is indescribable. Popular HIIT programs that work are Insanity, Kayla Itsines BBG, Les Mills, Crossfit and Tabata. These incorporate all sorts of fun and challenging movements – with and without equipment. Gone are the days of running on a treadmill and counting down the dreaded minutes.
Transformation after a mere 7 weeks of the Kayla Itsines BBG program.
Tip 1: If you are a beginner to HIIT, try longer rest periods first. Gradually decrease work-rest periods from 1:3, 1:2, and 1:1.
Eg. 20 second sprint:1 minute rest
20 second sprint:40 second rest
20 second sprint:20 second rest
*The more intense the work, and the shorter the rest, the better the afterburn is.
Tip 2: Fuel up! It’s not possible to work out on an empty stomach. Your body will not have energy to push through a taxing workout. I usually eat some carbs and drink some caffeine pre-workout. Coffee or green tea works.
Happy working out! I know you will love the results.
- Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. (The Journal of Physiology - Volume 575, Issue 3, pages 901–911, September 2006)