What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
New styles of movement workout seem to be popping up everywhere, promising incredible results and claiming to be the next big thing. With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), there appears to be some truth to that claim.
HIIT is essentially a style of movement workout that alternates between high intensity movements and periods of rest. The full workout takes significantly less time than a traditional cardio workout. Whereas a traditional fitness class might take 45-minutes to an hour, a full HIIT workout can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. It’s the opposite to endurance exercise where you would train your body to go for longer – like running – as with HIIT, it’s all about what you can do in short bursts.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
Studies have shown that HIIT can lead to greater fat loss thanks to the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect.1 This is where your body burns more calories as it returns to its normal resting state after a movement workout. Essentially, you will still be burning calories after you stop exercising! HIIT has also been shown to increase your VO2 max,2 which is the measure of oxygen your body can use. It’s an indicator of your cardiovascular fitness – the higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are.
While you can incorporate equipment and apparatus, one of the benefits of HIIT is that it generally relies on just your own bodyweight and a bit of space to move around freely. This makes it accessible to everyone and easy to do from your own home. If you’re not confident, there are many online videos and live and pre-recorded workouts available. Or, if you fancy giving it a go, try this simple, yet challenging routine.
A straightforward 10-minute HIIT routine
Complete each of the exercises below at the maximum intensity you can possibly hold for 30 seconds. The key is to go flat out at an effort of 80-95% of your maximum heart rate. At the end of each exercise take a 30 second break and feel your heartrate start to return to normal, before bursting into the next movement for another 30 second period. If this is too much for you, start slower with 20 seconds of exercise each time. It might not sound a lot, but at full effort you will certainly feel it! Get as far through the circuit as you can in ten minutes, taking longer breaks in between each exercise if you need to. Feel free to mix up the order of these exercises too:
While running on the spot, raise each alternating knee as high as possible and as quickly as possible.
Bend into a squat position and explode upwards in a jump, landing softly and with bent knees. Repeat for the duration of this exercise set.
Like a traditional lunge, but with a more explosive movement off the ground and moving forward with each alternate step.
Stand straight with your hands by your side then simultaneously jump up and land softly with your feet to the sides and with a clap of your hands above your head.
Get onto all fours with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. With straight arms and legs and your body in a plank position, lower down until your chest nearly touches the floor and then use your arms to push back up.
A final word on HIIT
Like the name implies, HIIT is intense! As with all exercise, you can (and should) go at your own pace. It’s also important not to neglect your recovery time. HIIT is tough! Don’t underestimate it because it’s a shorter style of movement workout. Don’t be tempted to try and squeeze in more workouts for quicker results, as you still need rest days to allow your body to fully recover. Limit your HIIT movement workouts to a few a week and balance them with easier workouts, with at least one full recovery day each where you do no exercise and allow yourself to relax.