High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training method that alternates between intense bursts of activity and a fixed period of less-intense activity or a rest period. The activity intervals can be as brief as 5 seconds, or as long as 8 minutes—but they should be performed at 80% to 95% of your maximal heart rate (HRmax). The recovery intervals can last equally as long as the work intervals, and should be performed at around 40% to 50% of your HRmax. You can repeat the work/recovery intervals as such for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The reason HIIT is so effective is that you can burn a significant amount of calories in a very short period of time.
Recently, a study in The Journal of Obesity showed that 12 weeks of HIIT reduced body fat and increased muscle mass. There were also substantial reductions in total abdominal trunk and visceral fat, and increases in lean body mass and aerobic power. The most surprising aspect of the results was that the subjects’ diets remained the same. The key word to focus on here is high intensity. A key component of HIIT is that high intensity intervals involve maximum effort not just a higher heart rate.
What You’ll Need
The great thing about HIIT workouts is that they can take place anywhere with almost any equipment (or none at all!) All you’ll need is a bit of open space, a routine, water, and a timing device. The Seconds Pro app for iOS works great!
You can do a HIIT workout anywhere you have space, and they’re perfect for travel. You can easily perform a workout in your hotel room, outdoors at a park or anywhere you think you can get away with it! Your backyard, the beach, I have even performed these in the landing of a stairwell when visiting family in a condo building. Start by checking the surrounding area for uneven surfaces or anything else that may not be fun to land on with your hands or feet.
How Often Should I Perform HIIT Workouts?
One of the most common questions is how often should I do HIIT Cardio Workouts? The body needs time to heal itself after this kind of training, so it is not recommended that you use it more than 3-4 times a week.
Once you have an idea of the exercises you want to do, you will want to be able to track the time of intervals and rest periods with a timing device. Of course, a clock with a second hand or a stop watch will do just fine; you don’t need to go out and buy anything fancy. The Seconds app for iOS and Android works great! Seconds is an very popular, and highly versatile interval timer app for HIIT workouts! We have built our Jump-Yoga routines into Seconds and it works great-so seamless and easy to use! It can call out each interval and rest and countdown till the next interval. You can also sync music to your intervals.
Use what is known as the Talk Test to determine whether your work intervals are intense enough. Simply put, the talk test is this: If while performing HIIT at an intensity level that enables you to carry on a conversation, you are not reaching your maximum heart rate and may want to dial up your intensity. You should be able to eek out a few words, but not carry on a conversation. If you can say the Pledge of Allegiance without pausing for breath after every line, then you aren’t working at 80% to 95% of your HR max. During your recovery intervals, you should be able to talk or recite patriotic prose quite comfortably.
What Are the Benefits
- Better cardiac function
- Faster metabolism
- Produces faster gains in endurance levels than steady state cardio
- Can be done anywhere; no gym or equipment necessary
- Efficient in terms of time commitment
- Burns fat more effectively than endurance cardio
The most important things to remember are:
- Stay hydrated.
- Breath through your breathless thresholds, one at a time, allow yourself time to recover and notice how your endurance and stamina improve over time.
- Build in some fun, active rest intervals, like a new dance move.