HIIT: The Best Way to Get Fit

HIIT:  High Intensity Interval Training describes any workout that alternates between high-intensity periods of exercise followed by lower-intensity periods of exercise or rest.

HIIT is my favorite type of training … and everyone can do it, regardless of their age or fitness level.

Why you can to do HIIT:

1. You have time for it.  During HIIT you do as much as you can with maximum effort in a minimum amount of time.  If you really go “all out” with your effort, you can effectively perform HIIT in as little as 15 minutes per day.  Everyone’s “max effort” is different, so focus on your personal best.

2. You maximize the after burn.  In a high-intensity workout, your body burns calories at an accelerated rate for 12-24 hours following the workout.  This is called exercise post oxygen consumption.  It’s great to continue to reap rewards the rest of the day!

3. You don’t need any equipment.  Leave the weights behind, and focus on getting your heart pumping to it’s max.  Jump, run, hop – anything plyometric is great (plyometric = maximum muscle force in shortest amount of time).  You can do HIIT anywhere – in a hotel room, in your living room, on the trail, on a bike, on the treadmill or at the gym.

How you can do HIIT:

1. Design your own intervals!  Pick an exercise you like to do or want to build up the endurance to do better.  For example, maybe it’s running.  To do HIIT while running, you could run 2 minutes then walk 1 minute, then run 2 minutes, then walk 1 minute.  Do that for a few intervals (one interval is one work period + 1 rest period).  You chose the durations.  As long as you’re alternating between high and low intensity, you’re doing HIIT.

2. Tabata (my favorite)!  A tabata workout is precisely-timed HIIT format consisting of 8 intervals.  The intervals are made up of 20-second high-intensity exercise followed by 10-seconds of rest.  You can do any exercise “Tabata-style”.  A standard tabata lasts 4 minutes (8 intervals totaling 30 seconds each).  For example, a tabata of jumping jacks looks like this:

  • 0:00 – 0:20   Jumping jacks
  • 0:20 – 0:30   REST
  • 0:30 – 0:50   Jumping jacks
  • 0:50 – 1:00   REST
  • 1:00 – 1:20   Jumping jacks
  • 1:20 – 1:30   REST
  • 1:30 – 1:50   Jumping jacks
  • 1:50 – 2:00   REST
  • … and so on up until 4 minutes (which is 8 intervals)
Bottom line:  Most of us are looking for maximum results in minimum amount of time.  HIIT  (high intensity interval training) is the way to do it.  There are lots of benefits of endurance exercise (long, steady workout at a moderate level), don’t get me wrong.  But when you’re short on time and want the maximum calorie burn and cardiovascular benefit, you need to go as hard as you can in short bursts.  You don’t need equipment, you can do any exercise you like (squats, jumping jacks, running, biking, push ups,  crunches, etc) and you can do it anywhere for as much time as you have.  Everyone… yes even you… can do it – no excuses!   

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net 

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