What is a HIIT Workout and Why Do It?
What’s a HIIT workout and why’s it so popular? Learn how this effective cardio method is the simple secret to burning maximum calories in under 30 minutes.
First Things First, What Is a HIIT Workout Anyway?
By now you’ve heard the common phrase “HIIT”, but what is HIIT training, really? The catchy acronym stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, which is a quick and highly effective form of cardio. Rather than hopping on a bike or treadmill and going at a steady pace for an hour, HIIT packs multiple intense, heart-pumping moves into 30 minutes or less.
How Is HIIT So Effective in Such a Short Amount of Time?
The key is to push yourself to your max. During your working intervals, you should aim to work at 80 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate — on a scale of one to ten, that’s an eight or nine. With high intensity interval training, longer doesn’t mean better. If you’re doing it correctly, you should be absolutely spent by the end, and it’s most effective under 30 minutes. While you want to go hard, make sure you aren’t sacrificing form, so take it a little slower your first time around to learn the moves properly.
How Do You Do a HIIT Workout?
Whether it’s five minutes or half an hour, designate the amount of time you’re going to spend on your workout. Remember, it’s more about how hard you’re exerting yourself rather than for how long. Within your total time, choose your work and rest interval time lengths. A good format to start with is 30 seconds of work and 45 seconds of rest, but as you get better, move to 30 or 45 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest.
The beauty of HIIT is that you can do any exercise with or without equipment and you’ll get killer results. Each interval consists of explosive plyometric moves that will exhaust your muscles to make the most of your time. Moves like jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers, and star jumps are just a few examples of high-intensity moves that will get your heart pumping.
What Are The Benefits of HIIT and Why’s It So Popular?
If you’re bored with traditional cardio routines, HIIT is the perfect way to spice it up. Plus, you get all those muscles-on-fire, sweat-dripping HIIT workout benefits in a fraction of the time. Aside from being good for your heart (ahem, cardio), there are quite a few other benefits of HIIT training.
1. Improve your VO2 max
If you’re out of breath within the first couple of intervals, HIIT is your chance to improve your maximal oxygen-carrying supply. Feel the difference in your endurance levels after a few weeks of doing HIIT.
2. Burn lots of calories during and after
Pushing to your max during the active intervals requires more oxygen intake, creating an afterburn effect during the rest periods and after your workout. Because your body requires more oxygen for recovery, this causes you to burn more calories even after the work is over, which is why HIIT’s short format is more effective than steady-state cardio.
3. Gain muscle strength
HIIT’s intense moves get your heart rate up while building lean muscle in the process. Soon those push-ups, burpees, and jump squats will feel a bit easier because your body will strengthen the muscles required to do the exercises.
4. You can do it anywhere, anytime, in any amount of time
With no equipment necessary besides a timer on your phone, you can bust out a HIIT session with zero excuses. Whether you squeeze in just five minutes between your busy schedule, tack on 10 minutes to the end of a strength workout, or go hard with 25 intense minutes, this versatile training method can adjust depending on your preference day-to-day.
5. It banishes boredom
HIIT is just a training technique, so once you figure out your timing, the actual moves are up to you. Put together a few exercises to create one HIIT workout, then switch them all up the next time for a completely different session. Eventually you’ll learn moves that you love (burpees, anyone? No? Okay!) that you can always incorporate into your workout.
Is It Time To Try HIIT Training?
The benefits of HIIT are undeniable, so why not give it a try. If you’re new to HIIT or are getting back into the swing of working out, take time to learn the moves first. That way, you’ll flow through the workout with power and good form, two ingredients crucial to a good HIIT session. If you have any injuries or underlying health concerns, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before jumping in.
Prep for your HIIT workout by wearing athletic clothes that will support you while staying out of your way, like compression tights or shorts and slim-fitting, moisture-wicking tops. Because of the high-impact movements, wear supportive gym shoes with a locked-down fit so you feel secure and cushioned with every jump.
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