For quite a few years now, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short) has become more and more prevalent in the fitness industry.
To simplify, the term refers to short periods of high intensity exercise. It can be performed as a session on its own, or as part of a workout routine. The session/routine will also include short or active rest periods. Active rest period referring to periods of rest during which you remain mobilised (for example slow jogs or skips)
The point is a HIIT workout can be anything you want it to be, as long as you stick to the principle of short rest in between performing exercises.
Rationale Behind HIIT
As I mentioned before, the objective of a HIIT workout is to push yourself at max capacity for short intervals, rest for a short period, and then repeat. The exercise to rest ratio tends to be 2:1 for beginners, and then progressed incrementally as fitness levels improve.
For instance, one minute of exercise, at pace, followed by 30 seconds rest, and then increase exercise time if comfortable, keeping rest time the same. This can also be done over a sustained period (of weeks/months) once cardiovascular levels have improved.
A simple HIIT example is doing 1-minute sprints at top speed (outdoors or on a treadmill) followed by a 30 second slow jog. So in essence, you can carry out such a workout anywhere, anytime, and with or without gym equipment.
I myself am a huge advocate of this particular workout, as most of my fat/weight loss was achieved by coupling HIIT workouts with a strict nutrition plan.
An example of HIIT (some actually refer to it as the origin of HIIT training) is Tabata training, so named after one of its inventors Dr. Izumi Tabata, who along with an Olympic skating coach Irisawa Koichi at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo Japan came up with a form of High Intensity Interval training which involved training flat out for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. This is then repeated eight more times and adds up to a four-minute workout in total. Various modifications can be made to these to suit individual needs, by either increasing exercise time, number of rounds or rest times to suit.
Another good example is a bodyweight-based circuit, for example the Insanity Workout. Some of you will already know how much of a fan of the Workout I am; this is mainly because it is a classic example that works and gets results.
The workout’s format is based on the same idea, which is a burst of intense exercise for a few minutes, followed by 30-second breaks. I can safely say it works!!
HIIT can be classed as both Aerobic and Anaerobic exercise rolled into one! This means it gives you both a Cardio (Aerobic) and Strength (Anaerobic) workout at the same time.
HIIT workouts therefore impact our 3 energy systems, these being the Aerobic, Lactic Acid and Creatine Phosphate Systems. The two later systems are jointly referred to as the Anaerobic System (I’ll talk more about this in another blog, for now back to HIIT!!).
Eventually, if the HIIT routines are carried out frequently, an improvement in aerobic capacity will occur. Meaning the body becomes more efficient in taking in and delivering oxygen. Putting it simply, breathing and stamina improve, and so does the body’s metabolic rate.
At the same time, the anaerobic capacity is improved as strength in the muscles engaged during exercise is increased. Again put simply, muscle growth/toning will occur, and higher levels of intense exercise will eventually become possible over time.
So all in all, I’d say HIIT is a “must”, not withstanding what your fitness goals are, as you can tailor it to your own needs, levels of fitness, time, location and modify accordingly over time.
I will however urge caution and advise that you start off with one sessions a week to start, and progress gradually, ensuring that there is at least a 48 hour break in between sessions, until you get to a stage where you can comfortably get through 3 sessions a week, performed on alternate days!
As with any exercise, please ensure you don’t go from basically doing nothing for years to attempting HIIT! Especially if you a have a history of or are prone to any form of cardiac illness.
If you fancy joining me in person for a 30 minute HIIT session, click on the link/logo below for the details of the sessions I run.
Hi, Lou here, I'll be sharing my thoughts and insights via my blog regularly, so please stay tuned!