High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout is one of the most popular ways to improve overall fitness. These relatively fast, very intense workouts challenge the cardiovascular and respiratory systems with most major muscle groups.
HIIT has a rest period after working fast (usually measuring heart rate or perceived work rate) so that the heart rate returns to rest. Work intervals can be of any length, but rest intervals are usually one to five times the length of work intervals so there is ample time for the body to rest. For example, 30 seconds of work can be followed anywhere from 30 seconds to two and a half minutes of rest. The longer the rest interval, the more force or energy can be applied to the work interval. Short rest breaks help improve overall cardiovascular fitness.
HIIT workouts can include cardio breaks, energy intervals, or a combination of the two. When combined with low-intensity, endurance-based work, a person can improve their ability to work at high intensity for long periods of time and then recover more quickly.
Burn more calories in less time
Compared to low intensity, static cardio such as walking, jogging, elliptical, or stair steppers, HIIT requires more energy because the work is done more intensely and activates more muscles, thus raising the heart rate to a higher level and burning more calories. For example, a 20-minute HIIT workout can burn the same number of calories as a 45-minute workout. High intensity workouts use carbohydrates as the main source of energy. When you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, the amount of fat burned in a shorter workout is equivalent to a longer, shorter intensity workout.
Improve heart health
Exercising the heart improves things like cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped per beat) during exercise and blood pressure control outside of workouts. The more efficient the heart is in circulating blood through the arteries and veins that connect your muscles, the better your overall fitness usually is. From regular gym visits to anyone on a cardiac rehabilitation program, anyone can see the benefits of HIIT; The only thing that will change is the relative intensity of the work performed for the same benefit.
Improve oxygen and blood flow
As your heart health improves, blood will flow to your working muscles. Blood carries oxygen to the muscles and removes carbon dioxide so they can continue to work harder. When the workout is over and the heart is not beating as fast, the blood vessels dilate (wide open), allowing blood to flow to all parts of the body, stimulating the recovery process. Over time, blood vessels learn to relax when they are not working, which lowers blood pressure at rest and helps manage blood pressure during workouts.
When you have less time but still want to do a workout, HIIT is the way to go. Using the compound, just 20 to 30 minutes of high intensity interval (multiple joints of the body) or full body movement can create a balanced workout that makes you feel good and pumps your heart. You will have better mental clarity and improved alertness after a quick, intense workout than taking a power nap or drinking another cup of coffee.
To get the most out of your next HIIT workout, keep this in mind:
- The “work” part of the workout should be at least 8/10 on the intensity scale.
- During the “rest” part of the workout, your heart rate should return as close to your resting heart rate as possible.
- Avoid doing more than three HIIT workouts per week.
- Mix your breaks and work-to-rest ratios so you can use different energy systems.
Sample HIIT workout
Energy-Based HIIT Workout: Complete six repetitions of each exercise, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit three to five times.
- Kettlebell Goblet Squat
- Dumbbell push press
- Kettlebell RDL
- Dumbbell bent over row
Cardio-Based HIIT Workout: Repeat breaks three to five times.
- Long: 5 minutes hard speed, 5 minutes easy / recovery speed
- Medium option: 1 minute hard, 2 minutes easy speed
- Short option: 30 seconds hard, 1 minute recovery
Coordinating Strength + Cardio: Complete all the exercises, then rest for three minutes. Repeat three to five times.
- 10 squats
- 10 pushups
- 10 lungs
- Sprint 25 yards
If you don’t want to create your own HIIT workout or prefer to work with a group, Studio Red is a great option! With two cardio and two energy-based stations, along with fellow VASA members and a certified trainer, you will fly breaks during a balanced, full-body-HIIT workout. Come and check out a free workout today!