What is HIIT?
Sponsered product Hit Machine
High intensity interval training is an increasingly popular training technique, in which you give an all-out effort during a quick, intense burst of exercise that may last from 5 seconds to 8 minutes. This is immediately followed by a short, sometimes active, recovery period. These two periods are often of equal length, with a complete HIIT workout (alternating work and recovery periods) totalling around 20 to 60 minutes.
What are the benefits?
HIIT has been shown to:
– Decrease abdominal fat and body weight whilst maintaining muscle mass
– Improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness
– Improve cardiovascular health
– Decrease blood pressure
– Improve insulin sensitivity (helps the exercising muscles to more readily use glucose as fuel to produce energy)
– Improve cholesterol profiles
Why is HIIT so popular?
– HIIT can easily be modified making it suitable for individuals of all fitness levels and health conditions.
– HIIT workouts can be performed on any piece of conventional gym equipment, including treadmills, upright bikes, rowing machines etc.
– More calories are burnt following a short HIIT session than after a continuous endurance workout, due to a post-exercise period called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This is generally around a 2-hour period following exercise where oxygen is used in the processes that restore the body to a resting state, this requires energy. Due to the intense nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC tends to be considerably greater than a steady state cardio workout, increasing energy expenditure and thus overall calories burnt by 6 to 15%.
Kick start your HIIT
When designing a HIIT programme, the first step is to consider the duration, intensity and frequency of the work intervals and the length of the recovery periods. During the high intensity work interval you should be working hard at approximately 80% of your estimated maximal heart rate, whereby during the recovery interval you should be working comfortably at 40-50% of your estimated maximal heart rate.
A popular HIIT protocol follows a 1:1 ratio between work and recovery intervals, for example 3 minutes high intensity exercise followed by 3 minutes steady state recovery. Another popular HIIT protocol involves the individual doing a 30 second near full-out effort, followed by a 3 to 4 minute recovery. Both of these protocols can then be repeated as many times as necessary.
There are numerous pieces of kit you can use to mix-up the work interval of your HIIT workout: