HIIT workouts have been staying in the spotlight these past few years but the concept of interval training isn’t exactly a nouveau idea.
Finnish runner Hannes Kolehmainen started doing interval training, reaping the rewards of his efforts by winning gold medals in 5k meters, 10k meters, and cross-country sporting events.
This happened more than a hundred years ago. Interval training (as HIIT was known then) was meant to kick an athlete’s training up a notch, pushing them to their limits more quickly than a regular session would.
What Does HIIT Mean?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. They are repeated sessions of very intensive exercises done in short periods of time, mixed with less strenuous physical activities that double up as your active recovery period.
In terms of its intensity, HIIT is undoubtedly a very intensive workout. The key to making it work to your benefit is consistency. While HIIT calls for you to exert more effort, maintaining your strength and the intensity of each round or circuit is the reason why HIIT can be such a brutal but very rewarding physical activity.
Benefits of a HIIT Workout
The HIIT workout has been touted as one that has many benefits:
You can do it almost anywhere – as HIIT is basically a levelled up cardio exercise, doing it any time of the day at almost any open space is one of its benefits. Yes, you can even do it at Rec Xpress! For example, instead of using the treadmill idly like you normally would, you can easily turn it into a HIIT workout by programming the machine to have bouts of quick running (make it an inclined run, if you can) interspersed with a milder, more tame jogging option.
Almost anyone can do it – Provided you have gotten the go signal from a medical practitioner that you can exercise and you don’t have any health issues, HIIT workouts can be done by almost anyone, even beginners. Just remember to do warm-up exercises beforehand and start slowly. There is no need to rush things.
Trains your body to be efficient – The beauty of this interval workout is that you get to train your body to be efficient in producing and using the energy you receive from it. It also lets your body get rid of metabolic wastes from muscles more effectively.
Goodbye, calories – You’ll be burning a lot of calories thanks to HIIT. This doesn’t include the continuous caloric burn AFTER the workout. Called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC in short), this period of rest after the workout lets your body cool down while still burning calories. The more intense the workout, the longer the
EPOC period will be thereby making HIIT a great fat burning workout.
Some Quick Facts About HIIT
- It’s a highly intensive workout.
- It does NOT target the following areas: core, arms, legs, glutes (unless you add stair climbing to your HIIT), and back
- It does not improve flexibility
- It helps build muscle
- It’s free — you can do it almost anywhere!
Types of HIIT Workout
Timmons Method: Beginner
This workout is simple enough: do 20 seconds of intense work and then 2 minutes of complete rest or active recovery such as walking. Do three rounds and you’re done. This circuit was developed by experts at Loughborough University.
The reverse Tabata (more on that later). Rest periods are doubled and focuses more on anaerobic fitness. Warming up for 10 minutes should be enough. Do eight to ten rounds.
In this HIIT workout, the intensity increases as you go along. You’ll be doing 30 seconds of work at 30% intensity, 20 seconds of work at 60%, and then 10 seconds of just plain all out work. The intensity is manageable.
Beast mode: Tabata
The Tabata method increases your VO2 Max (the amount of oxygen your body uses while working out). It’s 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do this eight times and you should have improved endurance. The Tabata method’s secret is its intensity. If you can so much as carry a conversation with someone else while working out, then you’re doing it wrong.
HIIT Workouts to Burn Fat
Burpee HIIT Workout
Do this workout (or circuit) four times. Rest for 1 minute after the burpees before starting again.
- Do as many pull ups as you can in 30 seconds
- 60 jumping jacks
- 20 burpees
Jump Rope HIIT Workout
Do this circuit four times. Rest for 1 minute after jumping rope before starting again.
- 45 mountain climbers
- 20-30 push ups
- 1 minute of front planking
- 1 minute of jumping rope
Lower Body HIIT Workout
Do this circuit four times. Rest for 1 minute after the calf raises before starting again.
- Sprint for 30 seconds
- Do squat jumps for 45 seconds
- Do 20 lunges on each leg
- Do 50 calf raises
Stationary Bike HIIT
This is a HIIT you can do at any Rec Xpress location. Choose a bike and you’re good to go! The likelihood of injuring yourself while doing a HIIT workout on a bike is very low, plus you get to stimulate every muscle fibre you use.
This workout is eight rounds long. Do 20 seconds of sprint cycle and then ten seconds of slower cycle or rest.
Lunch Break HIIT
Craving for a burst of endorphins while you’re on a lunch break? You can easily squeeze in a HIIT workout during your lunch break. This midday workout will definitely get you pumped up until the late hours of the afternoon.
This workout consists of eight rounds. Do the following exercises to complete one round and rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute before starting again.
- Jump lounge for 20 seconds
- High knees for 20 seconds
- Jump squat for 20 seconds
It is recommended that you do no more than two days of HIIT workouts a week, with at least one full day in between to help your body recover. Remember to stay hydrated and never do an intense workout routine if your body isn’t used to it.
HIIT: A Hit or Miss?
There’s no denying the benefits of a HIIT workout. Its intensity, combined with a workout that requires shorter time periods, easily makes HIIT a hit among health junkies and those who would want to lose weight.