As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been one of the top fitness trends over the past few years. And with good reason, because HIIT works!
As more people experience the benefits if HIIT training, you can expect it to continue to be among the hot fitness trends in the coming years.
What Is High Intensity Interval Training?
HIIT is a training involves intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods.
The idea is to elevate your heart rate for a brief period, recover for a brief period, and then repeat that cycle.
HIIT can be performed in a wide variety of ways, including sprinting, lifting weights, biking, etc. It can also be done using equipment (HIIT Training on a Treadmill) or simply by utilizing your own bodyweight.
Intervals can vary depending on the type of activity you’re doing. For instance, you can train in a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio (sprint for 30 seconds , rest for 30 seconds), a 1:2 ratio (sprint for 30 seconds, rest for 1 minute), a 1:3 ratio (sprint for 30 seconds, rest for 1.5 minutes), etc.
HIIT workouts are quick, tough and effective!
So what makes HIIT training so popular?
HIIT can blast fat and be the perfect type of training for those who have weight loss as a top fitness goal.
The high intensity intervals force your body to use and burn energy more efficiently, burning fat at a faster rate AND continue to burn calories long after your workout is done.
Because of the higher intensity, HIIT recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers are designed for anaerobic or short but powerful bursts of energy (think of a sprinter).
Steady-state cardio, on the other hand, recruits slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are designed for aerobic or endurance-type activities (think long distance runners).
Fast-twitch fibers need more fuel than slow-twitch fibers…this allows them to not only function properly when called into play, but also to recover properly following a workout. If your workout targets fast-twitch fibers, you’ll burn more calories during the workout AND after the workout. The “after-burn effect” or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), allows your body to continue to burn calories well after your workout is over.
This all sounds great, right? So why isn’t everyone doing HIIT as part of their workout routine?
That’s because high intensity interval training workouts are HARD!
You have to understand that giving maximum effort during the work interval portion of the workout is most important.
If you’re in the sprinting phase for 30 seconds, push until you have nothing left in the tank. The brief rest interval will then allow your body just enough recovery time to do it again.
I’m not going to lie…a proper HIIT workout is pretty darn uncomfortable.
But again, that’s why they work.
How often should I do High Intensity Interval Training?
I generally suggest 2-3 days a week of HIIT training. Because these are demanding workouts, I do not suggest HIIT workouts be done on consecutive days.
Combine your 2-3 weekly HIIT workouts with 2 days of resistance training and 1-2 active recovery workout days (yoga, mobility flow, walking, etc.) for a well-rounded fitness routine.
Keep in mind that over training and potential injury can be a real risk with high intensity training. Always allow your body enough time to recover and repair.
About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.