HiiT (High intensity interval Training) has become a very popular style of training recently, but understanding how to do it effectively isn’t as easy as it may initially seem.
It’s based on you doing intervals of exercise that range from between 10 seconds and eight minutes in duration, with you working at around 80-90% of your maximum heart rate for that period of time. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor (and not many of us do), then you can use a mental scale of 1-10 to measure your effort level instead, with one being sat on the sofa relaxing and 10 feeling like you can’t do any more. For an effective HiiT session, you’ll need to aim for an effort level of around nine out of 10. By the time the interval is ending you should feel like you couldn’t have continued any longer at that pace.
These high intensity intervals are followed by recovery phases. These can mean you coming to a complete rest or switching to a lower intensity exercise such as going from a sprint to a jog. Recovery phases will vary in time length depending on the style of session you’re doing.
One of the great benefits of HiiT workouts is that they don’t take much time. They can take as little as 20 minutes, with the key being that you work at the correct intensity. Be aware that long sessions of between 45 and 60 minutes can be too long to maintain the required level of intensity. These are still interval classes but do not fulfil all the HiiT criteria.
Another advantage of HiiT is that you’re not limited to one exercise type. You can do it on all the cardio equipment you’ll find in the gym and for those of you who prefer to train outside, these sessions can easily be applied to your runs and bike rides. Bodyweight exercises – such as pull-ups, push-ups, squat jumps, high knee sprints and sit-ups – work really well for HiiT, so even if you can’t make it to the gym, you can still do a session at home. This flexibility means you’re less likely to get bored and so more likely to stick with it – vital for achieving your goals.
Furthermore, it also helps build a stronger, healthier heart. By doing just three sessions a week, you’ll start to see an improvement in your fitness, helping you to maintain the same speed for longer, while it’ll also help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and abdominal fat.
Some pain, lots of gain
Lastly, the great thing about HiiT workouts is that you work to your best effort. As long as you do this, you’ll start to see the benefits. This training method has many great benefits but it’s important you’re aware that it’s a tough workout, regardless of your fitness level.