Odds are by now you’ve seen, heard about, or tried High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) at some point or another. What’s all the hype about? Is it really all that different than a “tempo run” or hittin’ up the elliptical for an hour? The answer is YES! It is different, and yes, you absolutely should hop on the HIIT train – even if it is just once or twice a week to switch things up a little bit.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is an time-efficient and effective way to work out.1 Just 15 minutes of interval training can be as effective as jogging at a steady pace, or using the bike or elliptical a much longer period. Just 15 minutes! Plus, since no equipment is necessary, you can do it anywhere.
So what is HIIT training anyway? HIIT concept is pushing yourself all out (at your maximum) for a short period of time, followed by a rest (or active rest). Then repeating. The durations of the training can vary as long as the concept stays the same. You’ll see what I mean in the examples listed below.
Tabata training is a popular form of HIIT training that I’m a big fan of. This type of training is only four minutes long, but don’t let that fool you—it’s tough! For tabata training, you do 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest (or sometimes active rest) for eight rounds. An example would be doing sprints on the track. Set a timer, and sprint all out for twenty seconds, then walk it out for ten seconds. Repeat for eight rounds, or four minutes total. This would be the perfect pairing with a strength workout, or pre yoga session.
Here are two examples of HIIT workouts you can do anywhere, in very little time:
- 30 jump squats – Squat down sinking your bum back towards your heels until you’re at 90 degrees, jump up and land back down in a squat. Be sure your knees stay behind your toes
- 25 plank jacks – In plank position (can do forearm plank or straight arm plank), jump legs in and out like a jumping jack. Ensure core is tight to prevent arching back towards floor.
- 20 dips – Either on the floor, or on a chair/bench etc, face hands towards body and hinge at the elbows dipping down and back up. Legs straight out for a tougher modification, or knees bent to make it easier.
- 15 push-ups – Place hands outside shoulder width apart, keep core tight and bring chest as close to the ground as possible, and push yourself back up.
- 10 burpees – Put hands on the ground and jump feet back into a plank position (optional push-up), jump feet back in towards hands and explode straight up with hands in the air. Repeat.
- Rest 1-2 minutes
- Repeat 3-5 times
- 10 box jumps-Jump up landing as softly as possible on your stairs/bench/couch, jump back on the floor with soft bent knees. Repeat.
- 10 squat pulses – Start in squat position and bring yourself down to about 90 degrees, bum back towards the heels. Hold the squat around 90 degrees and do small pulses up and down for 10.
- Rest for 30 seconds
- Repeat 5 times
HIIT workouts do not have to be complicated. In fact, you can use really simple exercises to make up a really tough training session! Like all types of training, be sure to change it up as often as you can. While HIIT is really effective, it is still beneficial to throw in some slow and steady runs on the track, or some heavy weight lifting sessions. Keeping the body guessing and keeping things interesting is key.
- Jonathan P Little, Adeel S Safdar, Geoffrey P Wilkin, Mark a Tarnopolsky, and Martin J Gibala. A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms. The Journal of Physiology, 201
I’d love to hear the creative ways that you’ve found to sweat! What type of training do you do?
Andrea Gnys (FitnessLeash.com) is inspired by the positive impact small changes in diet and lifestyle can have on overall longevity and wellness, one-step at a time. She is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer, committed to educating others about the benefits of plant-based nutrition and active living. Andrea is also a tea guru and lover of rescue animals.