Marisa HeinzeMarch 15, 2017
HIIT workouts: what, how, why?
WHAT IS HIIT?Over the years, many fitness training systems have come and gone. However, one training system has consistently scored in the top 3 fitness trends for the last 4 years, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s worldwide fitness survey. High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery, with total workout time usually lasting less than 30 minutes. This type of training is built on traditional circuit training principles, and although it has been around for many years, it now has a strong scientific basis.
HOW DOES IT WORK?With HIIT, your heart rate increases and stays up, increasing oxygen needs and creating an oxygen shortage. This effect is known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) – and is the reason why this type of training can help burn more calories than regular, steady state aerobic exercise.
HOW TO PERFORM HIITThe simple rule of HIIT is to perform exercises at a fast pace (with good form) staying within 70-80% of your maximum capacity, and taking short rest/recovery periods. With this in mind, workout times can vary between several minutes to 30 minutes. A 2:1 work to rest ratio has been found to be the most effective, but beginners to HIIT should start with a 1:1 ratio. When time is limited, the popular Tabata Protocol – 20sec work:10sec rest x 8 rounds – offers a highly effective workout option. Studies have shown Tabata-inspired workouts can burn up to 15 calories per minute, and exceed guidelines for improving cardiovascular fitness and body composition. If you have a little more time on your hands, you can choose a longer work period – via reps or time. While most HIIT workouts can easily be performed with body weight exercises, the most beneficial use involves a combination of body weight plus some loaded strength exercises, such as kettle bell swings, barbell deadlifts, cleans, and snatches.
WHY SHOULD I DO HIIT?Here are some of the benefits of HIIT:
- No equipment needed – although you can perform HIIT with equipment, most workouts are best done with just body weight exercises. Remember, the focus is on getting your heart rate up, and keeping it there
- Build muscle and lose fat - high intensities are conducive to building muscle, and the high heart rates support calorie burn and fat loss
- After burn – the EPOC effect boosts metabolism for up to 48 hours after working out. This means you'll be burning calories long after you've left the gym
- Convenient – no time to exercise? Can't get to the gym? HIIT allows you to train hard in under 30 minutes, virtually anywhere