Still using the modern-age 'I’ve got no time to exercise' excuse to skip yet another training session?
What if we told you that no more than a 30-minute long workout can include everything you need to achieve any one of your goals (even work on several simultaneously) - weight loss, muscle gain, calorie burn, metabolism boost?
The Definition of HIIT
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of workout designed to force you to give your absolute best in the least amount of time. To be more precise, during a training session, you go through short stages that comprise of explosive exercises followed by short periods of recovery. As your heart rate goes up, your cardiovascular fitness level improves and you manage to burn an insane amount of fat and calories in literally, no time.
We probably had you at short exercise time, but the truth is - HIIT workouts are not for the faint-hearted. As opposed to other types of interval training, HIIT does not only require you to get your heart rate up - you need to put all your muscles in motion and channel all your energy into performing HIIT exercises during those several minutes of training (exact duration of intervals varies depending on the type of HIIT workout and exercise).
We forgot to mention the best part for our busy readers - no equipment is required and you can do it anywhere and at any time.
HIIT training benefits
Because it involves short bursts of physical exercise, high-intensity interval training forces you to exercise at your full capacity. As a result, you consume the maximum oxygen rate during a workout, thus being more effective than any low or medium intensity interval training.
No, it is not just another overly-advertised buzzword - here we’ve outlined just some of the greatest HIIT benefits, not just fitness-, but health-related ones as well:
• Burns more fat at a faster rate
• Helps you build muscle while reducing the amount of fat
• Helps retain the muscle you already have
• Burns more calories during the recovery and resting time
• Improves athletic endurance
• Boosts metabolism
• Burns fat 48 hours after a workout
• Improves your heart health
• Reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome
• Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and sugar
• Lowers the risk of obesity
Last year’s research conducted by Mayo Clinic attempted to prove that HIIT workout also helps reverse the ageing process. As a result, they saw exceptional benefits on a molecular level, but also metabolically, since high-intensity interval exercises showed to reverse some ageing process manifestations within the human body’s protein function.
Just what we were looking for - a workout that would keep us young and strong, both on the inside and outside.
Types of HIIT workout
Still, one of the greatest benefits of the high-intensity interval training program is its versatility. Although the workout time is fairly short, it is comprised of varied exercises that target every inch of your body for the most optimal results. Furthermore, the array of exercises is precisely what makes you an addict to this intense fitness lifestyle, as HIIT workout can never make you feel bored, and keeps you 100% motivated.
Aside from exercises, HIIT programs differ in timing of the work and rest periods, depending on the difficulty of the exercise.
For this article, we’ve decided to single out one of the most prominent high-intensity interval training - Tabata training which takes the intensity part to a whole new level. In a total of 4 minutes, you go through eight cycles of 20 all-effort seconds, each followed by a 10-second recovery.
It was named after Doctor Izumi Tabata who discovered that adequate high-intensity training may significantly improve both aerobic and anaerobic energy supplying systems and can deliver better results than longer moderate training sessions.
What sets Tabata apart from other HIITs is the fact that it can be easily incorporated into a number of other activities, like running, cycling, or any strength, plyometric or body weight training.
How many Tabatas to do in a row?
A newbie fitness enthusiast is advised to take it slow - push through one 4-minute workout and see whether there’s energy left over for another one. Keep in mind that reps are only effective as long as you are not compromising your form or range of motion. Track your record and try to beat it every other time you do it. Start with training at least once a week, and slowly build your stamina to get to about 3 times a week, between 20 and 30 minutes.
Who can take up HIIT workout?
Anyone, really - what differs from one individual to another is the amount of effort they are able to put in in the workout when they first begin high-intensity training.
However, those who are just starting with a new workout regime after a long pause, or are still recovering from an injury are recommended to modify the pace. Although it is all about intensity, pushing too hard when your body is not 100% can result in (another) injury or some other kind of setback.
Proper form trumps speed and reps any day - push yourself beyond the limits, but don’t push yourself over the edge.
Tips for first-timers
While we are on the topic of safety during a HIIT workout, let’s discuss it in a bit more details.
High-intensity training sessions are highly physically demanding, and those who live fairly inactive or sedentary lives must build up their cardiovascular fitness gradually.
• Take between 3 to 5 minutes pre and post workout to warm up and cool down
• Begin with modified exercises (eg. jog in place, instead of sprint)
• On your first week, start at a medium pace
• Take minimum 1 or 2 days off to recover between two HIIT workouts
Fuelling the HIIT workout
When it comes to a specific meal plan, we’ve covered a topic on how carbohydrates can provide a significant pre-workout energy boost, so be sure to check out some of the recipes and recommended snack times.
But let’s be more specific today.
A research from Northumbria University outlined the benefits of exercising early in the morning on an empty stomach. However, this is far from ideal for enthusiasts who are looking to maintain or build lean muscle. In that case, 10g of True BCAA 1:1:4 or between 30 and 50g of True Whey Protein half an hour or an hour and a half before the workout will do the trick.
When it comes to supplements, True Creatine is beneficial when you begin to feel fatigued during a workout, as it aids in replenishing the phosphagen. It will allow you to maintain your maximum strength and energy and help recover properly between intense intervals.
A high-intensity interval training should start only after you complete a 2-minute warm-up that will prepare your muscles for the upcoming high-energy exercises.
1. Start by marching or jogging in place (30s)
2. Stand still and tall, keep your core strong and circle your arms backward (30s)
3. Do a front, back and side lunge with one leg, and then switch and repeat all three with the other.
To minimize the muscle soreness and round up the training session, take 2 minutes to cool down by performing an overhead stretch, reverse lunge, a forward fold, and a quad stretch, holding 30 seconds each.
HIIT workout is adequate for all types of people, regardless of their ultimate health or fitness goal.
• Are you looking to rid of the excess body fat and lose weight? Go for it.
• Are you looking to gain lean muscle? Go for it.
• Are you looking to improve your overall metabolic state? Go for it.
• Are you looking for a new challenge that would not compromise the muscle work you’ve already done? Go for it.
Getting yourself round to completing the very first high-intensity cycle might be daunting (to say the least). But as soon as you notice the first changes in the mirror (and trust us, they are just a few HIIT workouts away), you are bound to feel a surge of motivation.