Written by Jack Boardman
High Intensity Interval Training
If you want a workout that boosts your metabolism, burns serious calories and saves time, high intensity interval training may just be the answer you’re looking for.
Before you begin putting together a High Intensity Interval Training plan, remember the following.
Is HIIT Suitable For Beginners?
If you are an absolute beginner or have any health concerns including, but not exclusively, a heart condition, it is a good idea to start with less intense cardiovascular training. If you have a medical condition that may be exacerbated by a rapidly-increased heart rate, consult your doctor in the first instance. For beginners, reaching for the burn is one thing, but if you have no experience of cardio training (or at least not lately) a more moderate, less intense workout would make a good stepping stone to serious HIIT. Safety first!
How Often Should You Do HIIT?
Aim for two-three HIIT workouts a week – tops. We appreciate your motivation, but the intense stress on your body could end up seeing you worse off if you go from 0-100 on a daily basis. Remember: your body needs to time to rest.
Get Your Heart Rate Up
The aim with HIIT is to get your heart rate up to 90 per cent for 30 seconds. In terms of pace, this means sprinting or the equivalent depending on your exercise of choice. The key is to get your heart rate up and maintain it for the full thirty seconds – that’s why they call it intense.
Fundamentals Of Any HIIT Training Exercise.
HIIT is most effective when you put maximum energy into an exercise followed by low intensity, low energy usage on the same exercise.
If you’re looking for a general rule to apply to each HIIT workout when putting together a plan, once you’ve gotten confident with the extreme nature of the training and are feeling the good burn rather than legitimate injuries, think in terms of a 2:1 formula. Using the example of running again, that would look like 40 seconds of full-on sprinting (don’t slow, don’t stop) followed by 20 seconds or easy, slow jogging or walking, in which you are relaxing your muscles and slowing your breathing.
Focus On Larger Muscle Groups.
When you’re picking your exercises, choose ones that target the larger muscle groups and that will allow you to accelerate so that you can get your heart rate up.
How Long Should Your HIIT Session Last?
You should make your session last from five – 20 minutes, with an absolute max of 30 minutes. This, however, shouldn’t be a non-stop slop, instead break it up into several workouts and make each exercise count for around five minutes each.
How To Step It Up.
Many people appreciate the diversity and ingenuity than you can get out of a HIIT workout. You can mix up the exercises you do each time so you’re not repeating the same motions all the time. But if your high intensity training isn’t intense enough – and you’re getting your heart rate up to where it needs to be during the high intensity part – during the low intensity interval consider relaxed training that still abides the low energy rule. Consider a move like the plank or a yoga position that allows your heart rate to go down; in other words, an active rest.
Further to this, have a rethink about your formula and, if you can handle it, perhaps reduce the rest time.
If your HIIT session is part of a bigger plan for the week, remember that this will count as exhaustive muscle work. That said, if it’s your legs you’ve focused on during your HIIT, you’re best moving leg day in the gym to the other end of the week.
Remember Your Fuel.
If you’re here to burn calories, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the nutrition your body needs to recover and build before and after a workout. On a diet? You still need the calories, protein and carbs for an effective workout – without them HIIT might not be for you