High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, has gained momentum in recent years as a revolutionary approach to exercise and fat loss. So what is interval training exactly and how does it differ from a regular workout?
The idea behind HIIT is that one can perform the same amount of work in half the time by alternating between lower intensity workout periods that allow you to recover from high-intensity workout periods.
This type of exercise gains massive results in minimum time. However, it’s extremely challenging. When done correctly, HIIT workouts are said to be very intense, but they’re proven to show results.
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Thousands of people are happy to work through the pain if it means they can achieve an overall workout in half the time of their usual regime.
HIIT is an amazing fitness program as it can be tailored to suit just about any fitness level. HIIT for beginners requires a slower approach that you build gradually as your stamina and conditioning increase.
Once you’re stronger, you can add more rounds of high-intensity periods and for longer amounts of time. There’s no limit to how hard you can push yourself once you’ve hit your peak fitness level.
This revolutionary approach to exercise can also be used with a range of cardio exercises, so you can tailor your workout to suit exactly what you like.
People choose to incorporate running, cycling, swimming, or any range of aerobic activities into their HIIT cardio workout to enable them to lose fat and tone muscle in half the time of a regular workout.
As long as you’re performing the exercises at the recommended intervals and pushing yourself to your limit, HIIT will work with any cardio type.
For the best approach, a tailored circuit program that incorporates both cardio and strength training using the HIIT method is ideal. This gives you the best of both worlds and keeps your body guessing with the range of movement.
The Science Behind HIIT
So, what is HIIT and how is it so successful in helping you lose weight? HIIT has been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective ways to lose weight quickly and increase endurance significantly. The reason for HIIT’s success is in the science, and numerous studies have confirmed its power.
One study performed on laboratory rats found that high-intensity workouts where the animals that exercised at 80-90% of their maximum heart rate lost a greater amount of body fat than those rats who were only at 60-70%.
The same can be said for humans as this form of exercise is one of the most preferred methods by personal trainers to get quick results from their clients.
According to the Medical Daily, just 3 x 27-minute sessions of HIIT can have the same effect on fat burning as working out for 5 x 60-minute sessions of cardio a week. Results like this make HIIT the clear choice for those who are low on time but still require an effective workout.
What Are The Advantages Of HIIT?
There’s more than one reason why HIIT has become such a success in the fitness world thanks to its clear advantages over traditional workout methods. Here are just a few of the benefits that a HIIT workout has over traditional exercise styles:
This is the most appealing thing about HIIT, it suits those of us who are too time poor to spend an hour or more at the gym each day.
A usual HIIT session should take half the time of a regular gym workout, so you can get it out of the way each morning and carry on with your day feeling refreshed and energized.
HIIT exercises will give you results that you can see a lot faster than your standard workout. Don’t expect them to come easy, though, as each session will probably leave you begging for it to end.
Exercises that promise big results with minimal effort eventually fall flat, but a HIIT cardio workout will put you through your paces and reward you with you huge results.
Range Of Exercises You Can Do
HIIT can be fully customized to suit any exercise type you like, so long as it has the potential to be performed in more intense bursts as well as slower rounds.
Some people like to do just cardio with their HIIT while others incorporate strength training as well as an added fat burner.
You can skip, swim, cycle, run, dance, or perform a bodyweight workout during HIIT, and as you get stronger, you’re able to increase the difficulty for yourself.
Can Be Done Anywhere
In this day and age where people struggle to find time to make it to the gym, a HIIT workout at home or the office is a popular choice.
There are loads of HIIT workouts you can do without using any equipment, so you don’t need to sign up for a gym membership just to benefit from this workout style.
Burn Calories After You Stop Exercising
Imagine being able to burn calories even while you’re not exercising?
That’s the type of power that a HIIT workout has. Research has shown that performing HIIT exercises produces excess post oxygen consumption and increase your metabolic rate for the next 24 hours after exercising.
When you take up a HIIT workout plan, you’re not just giving yourself the stamina to get through your exercises, but also improving your day to day endurance levels.
After just a few weeks of working out, you’ll notice how much easier it is to climb stairs, play with your kids in the park, and vacuum the house.
How Do You Perform HIIT?
There is a range of different ways you can incorporate a HIIT cardio workout into your day. Here are some of the more common forms of exercise and how to use interval training to benefit more from your workout time.
This is ideal for beginners and makes a great jumping off point to kickstart your fitness journey. Even the most unfit among us can walk around the park, but for a HIIT workout, you’ll need to add some rounds of power walking.
After 5 minutes of warming up, begin to incorporate intervals with 2 minutes of moderate walking and then 1 minute of brisk. As your stamina increases, you can increase the intensity of your brisk periods and perform them for longer.
Similar to walking at intervals, the best way to incorporate HIIT into your daily jog is to alternate between sprints for the high-intensity portion and then a slower jog for recovery.
As you become stronger, you’ll be able to sprint for longer periods but don’t forget to keep your recovery rounds in as they’re just as important.
While cycling might be a leisurely activity for some, adding the HIIT logic to this exercise is certainly anything but. After 5 minutes of warming up by riding at a moderate pace, begin your intervals with 30 seconds of high intensity followed by a minute of low intensity.
Repeat this for a few times and then up the challenge to 40 seconds of high intensity and a minute low. Return to the 30-second intervals of high for a few turns and then start again.
This workout can be performed on either a stationary bike or normal bicycle.
If you’re feeling a little lost performing a HIIT workout at home, there are so many different classes these days that teach the HIIT method.
You might want to check out your local gym or fitness center to see what’s available, keeping an eye out for boot camp sessions, CrossFit classes, or anything that promises a high-intensity workout.
Why not create your HIIT workout plan for use at home that mimics the popular gym classes?
Try to incorporate moves that can target each of your muscle groups and perform them in high and low-intensity rounds. You can do a mix of both cardio and strength for an added fat shredding workout.
Tips For Doing HIIT The Right Way
If you aren’t seeing a personal trainer or another professional, it can hard to know if you’re performing your HIIT workout at home the right way. Follow these five simple tips to ensure you’re achieving the maximum impact from your exercise regime.
Ease Yourself Into It
While HIIT will provide you with a high impact workout, there’s no point attempting to get into it if you’re an absolute beginner.
The reason why HIIT is so effective is due to the energy it uses, so make sure you’re exercised solidly for at least a month with cardio before attempting.
If you’re starting HIIT for beginners, don’t expect to complete a full session with ease. For a 30-minute cardio session, begin by completing 3 – 4 intervals of 30 seconds into your workout.
Once you’ve mastered this level, increase your intervals to get a better workout.
Do Something You Enjoy
You’re probably aware by now that if you don’t enjoy an exercise, you’re not going to stick to it. Some people despise running, and that’s okay, it’s certainly not the only way to get fit.
If you force yourself to do something you dislike, you’ll lose motivation and give up altogether. HIIT is great because you can utilize a whole range of exercises, so you don’t get bored or feel repetitive.
Do a mix of burpees, star jumps, sprints, and skipping rope; it’ll keep you motivated and surprise your body with each workout.
Feed Your Body Well
Due to its intense nature, HIIT workouts burn an insane amount of calories and use up a lot of energy. Because of this, you need to ensure you’re fueling your body with the correct food before starting a workout.
A HIIT session should never be completed on an empty stomach; you’ll burn out before it’s over or worse still sustain an injury.
Think of fast digesting proteins and carbohydrates if you’re eating just before a session, and stay hydrated with water throughout your workout.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Many people are tempted to ignore their body if they’re feeling fatigued and worn out, as they want to push themselves to their limits.
This will only do more damage in the end, though, and render you useless to perform any exercise at all. Be mindful if you’re lifting weights that the day after a heavy session you might not be able to perform HIIT, so adjust your schedule accordingly.
When you’re starting out with HIIT, you won’t be able to give 100% at the start so just aim for one session a week. Treat your body with respect and listen to the warnings if you feel you need to take a break.
Warm Up And Cool Down
With any workout, it’s essential to warm your body up before exercising and allow it to cool down after a big session. This is especially true with HIIT considering the high impact of exercise you’re subjecting your body too.
Because you’re burning so many calories in such a short space, you will need extra hydration also, as your body can become prone to cramping with workouts such as these.
Why Is HIIT Important
Exercise, in general, should be a staple of anyone’s daily life, as the outcomes to your health from a solid workout routine are far-reaching.
With a HIIT workout plan incorporated into at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, you’re treating your body to a range of benefits that can only be achieved through regular exercise.
The desire to lose weight is the top reason that people start an exercise program such as HIIT cardio workout. When undertaken in conjunction with a balanced and nutritious diet, you can see results almost immediately from performing HIIT exercises.
As your strength increases so do the intensity of your workouts. Making it very hard to plateau as you can with other forms of repetitive exercise.
Stamina is not only useful for when you’re working out, but it can help get you through your daily life as well. Walking the stairs, running after your children, or taking part in outdoor activities, these are all times when your stamina comes into play.
As you continue with HIIT workouts, you’ll get more strength and stamina than you ever thought possible.
You’re probably aware of the amazing feeling that you get after an intense workout session, and HIIT is no exception. Exercise releases endorphins in your body which can boost your mood for the entire day.
Longevity Of Life
According to the Mayo Clinic, you’re likely to live a longer and healthier life if you partake in regular daily exercise. If there’s no other reason for getting fit and taking up HIIT, let this be the only one.
With a healthy body and mind, you’re less likely to develop serious illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure.
For those who already have one of these diseases, regular workout sessions might help to keep it at a manageable level that no longer requires medication.
One study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information Services looked at the effects of walking as regular exercise for people living with type 2 diabetes.
Half of the participants performed interval walking while the others walked at a regular and maintained speed for their time.
Those who did interval walking reported a loss of both body mass and fat mass, and their glycemic index decreased. The regular speed walkers weren’t able to report the same losses.
Weight Loss With HIIT Workouts
Weight loss is one of the biggest motivators when it comes to starting a new exercise regime, so why not utilize the power of HIIT to get faster and more effective results from your workout?
You can perform a HIIT workout each day in under 15 minutes and get the same results as you would from a regular workout performed for 30 minutes or more.
As with any weight loss goal, though, exercise is not the only factor for success. To lose weight faster, you’ll need to combine regular exercise with a sensible and nutritious eating plan that incorporates a mix of healthy foods that can fuel you through your workouts.
To lose weight effectively, you’ll need to ensure you are creating a deficit of your calories or outputting more energy than you’re inputting.
Once you’ve established how many calories per day are required for your weight range, you can develop a healthy eating plan that will assist in shedding those extra pounds.
A HIIT Workout Plan For Home
Now that we’ve covered all the basics and you’re schooled on the science behind HIIT, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. Here’s a basic HIIT workout plan that can be performed in the privacy of your own home with no special equipment required.
This workout aims to select one of the exercises from each body group and perform it with as much intensity as possible for 30 seconds, then follow it with a 30 second rest period.
If performed correctly, it should take just under 15 minutes to get through, so it’s a great place to begin your HIIT journey.
Squats - Stand with feet hip-width apart and a straight back, always looking ahead. Squat down, ensuring that you keep your knees in line with your feet and not over. Try to imagine sitting down on an imaginary chair.
Lunges - Keeping your upper body completely straight, take one step forward with your right foot and lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your core engaged at all times during this move, shoulders back, and the head is facing straight forward.
Squat Jumps - These are a little more difficult than squats, so they’re great if you’re looking for an extra challenge. Do a regular squat as mentioned above, but as you’re coming back up turn it into an explosive jump. When you land, lower back down into the regular squat position and repeat the move.
Push-ups - Although these are one of the most common exercises, they can be hard to master correctly. Straighten yourself into a plank position with your palms on the ground, positioned just under your shoulders.
As you keep your back straight, lower yourself down to the ground until you’re almost touching it and then return to the plank position. For those who are still building their strength, you might like to rest on your knees as you perform this move rather than your feet.
Dips - Find somewhere in your home that can provide stable support for the height of a chair. Put your hands behind you on the chair with your elbows pointing backward in a slight bend and your fingers facing forward.
Extend your legs out and slowly lower yourself down until your shoulders reach below your elbows. Return up to complete the move. If you’re looking to increase or decrease the difficulty of this one, remember that the further out you extend your legs the harder it will be.
Plank - Get into a press-up position and place your elbows directly under your shoulders, using them to carry your weight. Keep your back in a straight line and engage your core by pulling your belly button up to your spine. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
Bridges - Lie on your back and bring your knees up, so they bend, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Pull your hips up towards the sky so that your back makes a straight line and sweep your arms underneath and clasp together. Hold this move for 30 seconds.
Sit-ups - Another of the most popular exercises, sit-ups are great for working out your core. Lie on your back and bring your knees up again with feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers behind your ears but not holding up your head.
Pull your shoulder blades back by moving your elbows out to each side. Engage your core and pull your body up towards your knees and then back down again.
Jump Rope - If you don’t have a jump rope, it’s an easy move to practice with a pretend one as well. Begin skipping and continue for 30 seconds without stopping. Ensure you’re getting a little height off the ground to make the workout that little bit more intense.
Burpees - Stand with your feet hip-width apart and squat down, placing your hands on the floor just in front of you. Kick your legs behind you in one fast move and press down to the floor, so you’re just above it.
Push yourself back up again (just like a push up) and bring your legs back in swiftly so you’re sitting in the squat position again. Jump up as high as possible with your hands above your head and then return to standing position.
With this simple workout performed once a day (or twice if you have the energy) you’ll not only burn serious calories as you exercise but continue to do so throughout the day.
With the flexibility to choose your favorite exercise as part of this routine you can bring a bit of enjoyment into your workout, and by mixing it up, you’ll avoid the boredom that can come with home fitness.
HIIT For A Healthy Lifestyle
If you’re looking to kick-start a healthy lifestyle journey then incorporating just a few sessions of HIIT into your routine will have phenomenal results.
However, there are other things you can do to ensure you’re leading a healthy life, all of them with benefits that can reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses, as well as give you a longer and happier life.
Get Any Extra Exercise You Can
While regular HIIT exercises will keep you fit and healthy, you should also be mindful of adding extra bursts of activity into your daily life.
Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to the corner store rather than driving. All of these little things can add up to a significant change in the way you use your body.
Change Your Attitude
Before you start to make over your body with HIIT, you need to be in the right mental mind frame. Don’t look at these lifestyle changes as punishment, but rather a new lease on life.
When you think of exercise as a chore and healthy food as unappetizing you’re already losing the battle. Instead, try looking at these things as a reward for your mind and body that will keep on giving.
Start Thinking About Food As Fuel
This can be particularly hard as we’re bombarded daily with images of fast food, sugary treats, and unhealthy alcoholic beverages. However, once you start a routine of HIIT, you’ll become far more mindful of what you’re putting into your body.
Empty calories are not going to fuel you through your day, let alone a workout, so treat the food you eat as if it were gas that keeps your body running.
Celebrate The Wins
Don’t be afraid to treat yourself when you achieve something new, such as adding 10 minutes of workout time to your HIIT session or being able to run an extra mile.
Try to avoid old habits, though, where naughty food was the only treat you wanted, and think outside the box. A trip to the beach, new clothes, or a night out dancing are far more beneficial to your health and wellbeing than a fat-laden snack that you’ll have to work off anyway.
Get Your Family Involved
There’s no point being fit and healthy while you enjoy a long life if you don’t have anyone to share it with. Get your family and friends on board with your HIIT workouts and healthy eating so that you can all share in your achievements.
HIIT can be tailored to any age or fitness level, but be sure that those at risk of injury consult their doctor before making any drastic changes.
With years of research and results behind it, it’s obvious to see that HIIT is a genuine workout routine that can offer long-lasting results. Not only is HIIT great for speeding up weight loss, but it also comes with a range of other health benefits.
Lowered risk of disease, happier moods, and more endurance for your daily tasks are just a few of the reasons why so many people are getting on board with this revolutionary approach to exercise, not to mention the ability to get through your workout in just 15 minutes a day.
You’ll need to work hard during a HIIT workout so don’t be fooled into thinking this is an easy way out, but you can’t expect amazing results in half the time doing it any other way. Harness the power of this amazing method in your workout today, and you’ll be guaranteed results in just weeks.
A HIIT workout can be tailored to meet any fitness level, age, or size, so there’s no excuse why you can’t begin to benefit from it today. If you’re new to the game, why not try interval walking while you build up confidence and speed, you’ll likely find that you’re ready for tougher circuit based HIIT workouts in no time.