High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a type of workout that alternates between periods of slow activity and intense bursts of activity. For example, a Stairmaster on fat burning mode that alternates between slow steps, fast steps, and increased levels would be a HIIT workout. Running for 1 minute, walking for 2, running for 3 minutes, walking for 4 would be another example of HIIT.
So, what are the benefits of including High Intensity Interval Training into your routine?
HIIT is an extremely efficient workout for people who are too busy to schedule regular intervals of cardio and strength training. Research has shown that 15 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training, done approximate 3 times a week, is more effective than jogging on a treadmill for 1 hour. If “too busy” is your excuse, then HIIT is the answer.
High Intensity Interval Training is not a leisurely stroll on the treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike while reading a magazine. HIIT is a challenging, short-term routine that requires your full attention. Because HIIT is so short, you will be working hard the entire time. You might be struggling to breathe, you might be in pain, but you definitely won’t be bored.
Do It Anywhere
Don’t have a Stairmaster or access to a gym? No problem. HIIT isn’t exclusive to gym rats. Jump roping, biking, interval running, rowing, high knees, fast feet, and jumping lunges are all great examples of a “no equipment necessary” HIIT workout. Anything that gets your heart pumping, fast! Go for maximum effort for a short period of time, rest, repeat. If you ride a bike, ride as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then relax for 45. Repeat. Run up a set of stairs, walk back down. Repeat. Adapt your workout to whatever time and space constraints you have.
Burn Fat, Not Muscle
HIIT burns more calories than jogging or running and kicks your body into overdrive. The effect of High Intensity Interval Training lasts longer than your 15 minute workout. Your body will continue to burn through fat and calories during the next 24 hours after your HIIT session. Steady cardio (like running several miles) tends to encourage fat AND muscle loss. HIIT workouts allow you to preserve hard-earned muscle while ensuring the weight that falls off comes from fat stores.
HIIT trains your body to effectively create and use energy from your body’s anaerobic energy system. HIIT pushes you past aerobic zone into an anaerobic zone. The anaerobic zone is the wonderful place where your heart feels like it’s beating 1000 times a minute and you can’t breathe. Short bursts of anaerobic activity leads to intense results. After several weeks of HIIT, you will be able to go harder and longer during your normal walks, jogs, and runs.
One 30 minute HIIT workout has the same benefits as 90 minutes of low-intensity activity. According to American College of Sports Medicine, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training. HIIT quickly adapts the cellular structure of your muscles, enabling you to increase your endurance, regardless of what exercise activity you choose.
Increase Your Metabolism
More oxygen is consumed during a HIIT workout compared to a traditional workout. This increase in oxygen also increases the rate of your metabolism. A higher functioning metabolism means you burn through fat and calories more quickly. HIIT also stimulates the production of what is called the Human Growth Hormone or HGH. HGH is responsible for an increase in calories burned.
High Intensity Interval Training Challenge
For the gym rat
- Day 1: 10 minutes on the Stairmaster on “interval” or “fat burning” mode. Make sure the mode varies speed and resistance. Start on an intermediate level.
- Day 2: 12 minutes on interval or fat burning mode. Increase your level by 1.
- Day 3: 15 minutes on interval or fat burning mode. No Increase.
- Day 4: 18 minutes on interval or fat burning mode. Increase your level by 1.
- Day 5: 20 minutes on interval or fat burning mode. No Increase.
- Day 6: 22 minutes on interval or fat burning mode. Increase your level by 1.
- Day 7: 25 minutes on interval or fat burning mode. No Increase.
Go au naturale
- Day 1: Scout a set of stairs. Run up one flight in 35 seconds. Walk back down. Repeat 4-5 times.
- Day 2: Grab a bike and find a stretch of road or path. Bike hard for 30 seconds. Pedal slowly for 45. Bike hard for 1 minute. Pedal slowly for 45. Bike hard for 90 seconds. Pedal slowly for 45. Repeat.
- Day 3: Stair runs. Repeat 5-6 times.
- Day 4: Sprint for 1 minute, walk for 2. Run for 2 minutes, walk for 2. Jog for 3 minutes. Walk for 2. Repeat.
- Day 5: Stair runs. Run up one flight in 25 seconds. Walk back down. Repeat 4-5 times.
- Day 6: High knees/fast feet for 30 seconds. Side steps or toe taps for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times.
- Day 7: Stair runs. Run up one flight in 20 seconds. Walk back down. Repeat 4-5 times.