Ok so even your Mum’s Auntie’s dog’s barking on about the wonders of “HIIT training”. It’s been well known as the fitfams fave go to class for a while now but what’s all the fuss about? Firstly, what even is it? (for the unintiated – apologies for those in the know) Secondly, why should you be doing it?
Here’s your basic guide to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – which just so happens to be the most efficient, hot and sweaty workout you can shake a stick at. It also just happens to be WAY more fun than it sounds. As a HIIT trainer I 100% whole heartedly practice what I preach. The benefits of HIIT training to your workouts (not just those in summer) is phenomenal. Read on to find out more…
So the basics….What is HIIT and what does it mean for your workouts?
Simply put. Its any workout done in bouts (intervals) of high intensity exercise followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods (intervals). The high intensity interval is enough to make you completely out of breath. The recovery helps you bring that back to more of a steady state.
A common ratio of work:rest used in interval training is 45 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 15 seconds of lower intensity recovery (45:15). I find this a very efficient time ratio. However, if you’re a bit of a newbie to all this lark, then progress towards that. You can make the rest interval longer and the work shorter (e.g 30:15 work to rest) or (45:30 work to rest). You need to ensure you’re keeping safe and your form is in check first and foremost. Listen to your body.
A HIIT round (or circuit) can vary in length. I like to stick to 7-8 exercises before having a full minutes rest (or more rest if you’re new). The beauty of HIIT is that it’s efficiency ensures that you don’t need to work out for hours at a time. You can get a great workout in up to 15-20 minutes. That’s 2 or 3 rounds of your 7-8 exercise circuit. One thing to note is that no matter the work:rest ratio, the work ratio has to be full on, all guns blazing hard effort. As I always say in class, earn your rest period.
What counts as high intensity?
In the high intensity bursts you are flat out. Moves are those that give you the biggest bang for your buck, think burpees, tuck jumps, squat jumps, sprints, skipping. The most efficient exercises to select are those that use multiple big muscle groups of the the body. Think chest, back, butt, leg moves vs bicep curls. You can make them more cardio focussed or strength related. If your doing a strength move like a squat with an overhead press you need to make sure the weight is sufficient that you fatigue by the time 45 seconds hits. When I say high intensity think quick, intense bursts of exercise.
What counts as low intensity?
Think slowing it down, not necessarily stopping. If your rest periods are 15 seconds, thats just about enough time to catch a few gasps or air before moving on to your next interval. If your rest periods are slightly longer you can walk (works well if you’re doing sprints), use some slower paced core moves, or just use the time to catch your breath back whilst your getting used to the training.
Why it works and why you should be doing it….
Wanna be that lean little hottie on the beach? Or just want to be fitter and stronger? Here’s why you gotta HIIT it:
- By training in peaks and troughs a high intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen. It kicks into gear excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). So even after you’ve finished your workout you’ll be burning calories and your body will be feeling the burn up to 24hours later – hello efficient workout.
- The nature of the workout means that you’ll burn fat, build endurance and aerobic capacity all whilst saving time. It has also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps you burn more calories throughout the day.
- HIIT burns calories and builds muscle and won’t eat into muscle like some traditional steady state cardio mechanisms will. By increasing your VO2 Max you’ll decrease body fat and build lean muscle mass. Read lean mean machine.
- You can do it anywhere, you don’t have to use equipment, some of the best exercises are those without equipment.
- Its fun and varied, bye bye long boring runs. Better still grab a workout buddy to do it with you!
- It shocks the body. Too often we don’t push out of our comfort zones which is why we don’t see results. Push it….Push it reaaaal good!
Make sure you WARM UP AND STRETCH before and after each session. HIIT is a high impact workout by definition it does the body wonders but you cannot mistake the importance of stretching and recovery. Try to do HIIT sessions on non consecutive days where possible.
HIIT is a crazy good workout for you. Get involved! I hope you’ve found this useful for you. Please do let me know any comments or feedback, I’d love to hear from you! Stay tuned for example HIIT workouts to follow on the Tone What You Own blog…
Sending health and happiness,
Photos by: Luke Ayling. Pictured: Myself & Tara Margulies