What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

A popular type of workout promises the benefits of other workouts – in under 30 minutes.

For a lucky few, getting motivated to go to the gym each day is effortless. Others find it a bit more difficult to get into a steady routine of working out. A new exercise plan called HIIT is said to have similar benefits to traditional workout programs, with a much less daunting time commitment.

What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a type of interval training where you alternate between intense periods of anaerobic exercise and recovery. Proponents of HIIT praise the workout for producing desired results in a more time efficient manner. One of the major barriers for many in committing to a fitness program is the time investment. Seeing results from any fitness program takes time, and for some, that time investment is hard to justify.

What is the difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercise?

Anaerobic exercise, the core component of any HIIT, is any high-intensity activity that lasts for a short period of time (generally less than two minutes). Examples of anaerobic exercises include sprinting, jumping, and heavy weight training. Anaerobic, which means “without oxygen”, is named appropriately because anaerobic exercises cause you to quickly run out of breath. In contrast, aerobic exercises, such as swimming, walking, or hiking, do not result in the same quick loss of breath. However, any activity can be anaerobic or aerobic depending on the intensity at which you do them.

What are the benefits of HIIT?

High-intensity interval training programs provide a number of fantastic benefits. By switching between short bursts of intense, anaerobic exercise, and moderate aerobic exercise, the efficiency and endurance of your muscles increases. Additionally, the recovery periods included in any HIIT program allow for faster removal of the lactic acid in your muscles. Lactic acid is what produces muscle fatigue during intense exercise and muscle soreness afterward – you might recognize it as that familiar burn during a hard run. HIIT programs are thought to improve blood sugar and blood pressure levels, as well as help with weight loss. They’re also designed to get your heart rate up (it should be about 85-90% of its maximum during the intense periods), increase your metabolism, and burn fat. However, the main benefits of any HIIT program are similar to any exercise program – the point is to accomplish those benefits in a shorter period of time, with little to no equipment.

What are some HIIT training programs?

Burpee/Pull Ups/Jumping Jacks

Complete this circuit 4 times. Rest for 1 minute after each round of burpees.

1. Pull Ups: Do as many pull ups as possible over the course of 30 seconds.

2. Jumping Jacks: 60 jumping jacks at a high intensity.

3. Burpees: 20 Burpees at a high intensity.

Sprint/Push ups/Squats

Repeat the following circuit as many times as possible at a high intensity.

1. Sprint for 15 seconds at full speed

2. Do 10 pushups

3. Do 10 squats

4. Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Cycling HIIT

Try this exercise program for 25 minutes at a time.

1. For the first five minutes, warm up with slow to moderate intensity cycling.

2. Repeat the following ten times: Pedal as hard as you possibly can for 30 seconds followed by 1 minute of coasting.

3. Cool down at slow to moderate intensity cycling for 5 minutes.

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