High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest.
Utilizing this interval training to alternate a maximum-effort activity (like sprinting) with a recovery period consisting of lighter work (moderate walking) that lasts only about 20 minutes in total has a dramatic effect on fat loss
HIIT is referred to occasionally as “Guerilla Cardio” for a multitude of benefits
Better Body Composition: HIIT’s short duration not only prevents catabolic states from arising and consuming muscle tissue, but also at the same time elicits a strong fat burning effect. When activities are prolonged like a 60-minute run at a steady pace the body starts breaking down muscle tissue to use as fuel. HIIT is hence the perfect recipe for losing fat while retaining muscle mass.
Escape Route from Cardio Boredom: High intensity interval training has not only been shown to be superior to other forms of training, but it’s also a way to escape the tedium of long, boring cardio sessions.
Non-Draining: The quick and explosive method of a short HIIT workout can often lead one to feel more energized rather than drained. Overall a HIIT trainee may find themselves with a better mood and feeling more energetic.
Increased Metabolism: Helps to burn 50% more fat overall than steady-state cardio by elevating the metabolism for the next 48 hours.
Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC): Oxygen is consumed in greater amounts for a certain period of time after HIIT. This causes up to 9 times more fat being burned while in a resting state.
Despite its benefits, there are some people who may not find HIIT as acceptable as other training methods due to reasons like –
Injury Prevention: Because preventing injury should always be first priority during any type of training, particularly obese or large bodybuilders may want to forgo HIIT in order to prevent the unnecessary injury that may occur as a result of a clumsy sprinting technique.
Possible Contraindications: People with medical conditions like heart problems, diabetes, or respiratory problems might find it difficult to adapt to the levels of intensity required by interval training. If any condition does exist, it’s always recommended to consult a medical doctor.
Prolonged Recovery Time: The biggest downside to HIIT is that it may take longer to recover from than less intense and slower, steady-state cardiovascular exercise. Some individuals may not want to compromise their ability to fully recover especially for individuals into sports and weight lifting especially if rest days would be constraint and hence prefer steady state cardio.
HIIT Training Combinations
The combinations are endless when it comes to HIIT workouts. You could do any combination of intervals, but here are a few examples:
HIIT training for on the treadmill
Sprint for 15 seconds and walk/jog for 30 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.
Sprint for 30 seconds and walk/jog for 60 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.
Sprint for 60 seconds and walk/jog for 90-120 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.
HIIT training on the gym floor
Squats for reps for 1 minute and then rest for one minute, then repeat for 20 minutes.
Deadlifts for reps for 1 minute and then rest for one minute, then repeat for 20 minutes. Note: Make sure you are using the correct form with these.
Box jumps – Jump onto and off of a box by softly landing on your feet for 1 minute and then rest for 1 minute. Repeat for 20 minutes.
Jump rope – Jump rope for 1 minute followed by 1 minute of rest. Repeat for 20 minutes.
Progress with HIIT by varying the interval times. Try lowering the amount of rest time between high intensity intervals, or try jogging instead of walking.
General HIIT Guidelines
HIIT is designed for people whose goals are boosting overall cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and fat loss.
Because HIIT is physically demanding, it’s important to gradually build up your training program so that you don’t overdo it.
Always warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after each HIIT session.
If you experience any chest pain or breathing difficulties during your HIIT workout, cool down immediately. (Don’t just stop or else blood can pool in your extremities and lightheadedness or faintness can occur.)
HIIT is not for beginner exercisers or people with cardiovascular problems or risk factors. If you have cardiovascular problems or risk factors, you should NOT attempt HIIT unless your doctor has specifically cleared you for this kind of exercise.