Woman in exercise gear running fast alongside a river.

Get Leaner, Fitter and Stronger with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

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You may have heard of High Intensity Interval Training already, but do you know how powerful it can be for fat loss, your fitness levels and getting leaner, fitter and stronger fast?

Do you know if it is right for you?

Are you ready to try something new to help you smash through any training plateaus?

This method of training could be just what you need to freshen up and develop some incredible results.

What is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that involves working really hard for short periods followed immediately by short periods of low intensity recovery.

For example, you might sprint at a high intensity for 30 seconds followed by a jog or walk for 60 seconds.

This process is then repeated usually over 20 minutes due to the high levels of intensity.

Why does HIIT work so well?

Well, let’s take a look below.

You can burn more fat:

HIIT encourages metabolic adaptations within the body that enable us to use more fat for fuel. Research has highlighted HIIT burns fat up to 50% more efficiently than low intensity exercise alone.

You can boost your metabolism:

HIIT has been shown to raise metabolism for up to 36 hours after the session has ended, helping you to burn more calories while the body recovers.  This process is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).

It is convenient and efficient:

HIIT usually lasts only 20 minutes or less, making it a really convenient way to exercise if you have time pressures within your lifestyle.  To perform it also requires no equipment and it can be done anywhere i.e at home, at the gym, on holiday, at work or on your travels.

You can increase your VO2 Max:

HIIT is far superior to lower intensity exercise when it comes to increasing your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can uptake during exercise. This means that you will be leaner, fitter, stronger and healthier. You will perform better in sports you take part in or any physical activities you explore.

Is HIIT suitable for everyone?

The mode of HIIT can provide several benefits to improve your training regime and help you to progress. Despite this, it will be one of the most challenging forms of exercise you can do as you push yourself to your limits. It is a high intensity challenge, making it unsuitable for some people.

Unfortunately HIIT may not be the answer if you fall under any of the following criteria:

Beginners new to exercise:

HIIT is an advanced method of training and should be built up towards gradually.  Jumping in feet first with this exercise can cause you injury and demotivate you to continue with your exercise routine.

Sport specific athletes:

Endurance athletes will not benefit from this method of training as they require lower intensity long duration methods of practice.

If you are susceptible to injuries:

If you are prone to injury i.e. back, knee, ankle or hips you may want to proceed with caution or avoid HIIT.

If you are overzealous:

So you like the idea of HIIT right?  Remember with this form of exercise it requires that you work flat out for short periods and if used excessively as part of a training routine can quickly lead to over-training.  Consider limiting HIIT to 2-3 times a week and leave time for other important training components i.e. strength training.

Ways you can work HIIT into your routine:

HIIT can be worked into training routines rather easily and this is one of the reasons it is so effective – easy to incorporate and difficult to perform, but that is the beauty of HIIT.

Treadmill / Exercise Bike / Elliptical Trainer / Rowing Machine:

Sprint for 30 seconds at maximal intensity and jog/walk for 60 seconds recovery.  Repeat for 20 minutes.

Landmark Training:

Training outdoors can provide the opportunity to race between landmarks.  For example, here in the UK the streets are filled with lampposts every 50 yards or so and provide a great opportunity to sprint from one lamppost to the next then walk to the following one for recovery, and repeat.  This principle can also be applied in the park with tree’s or something similar.

Skipping Rope:

Jump for 60 seconds at maximal intensity and rest or slow walk for 60 seconds recovery.  Repeat for 20 minutes.

Bodyweight Exercises:

Combine bodyweight exercises including push-ups, squats, lunges, pull-ups for 60 seconds of high intensity work followed by 60 seconds rest (or 30 seconds rest for a more advanced session).  Repeat for 20 minutes.

Hill Sprints:

Locate a hill that will be suitable for running up and getting back down safely.  The steeper you choose the more challenging it will be.  Sprint to the top of the hill and walk back down to recover, when you reach the bottom head straight back up the hill with a sprint.  Repeat for 20 minutes.

Give it a try, good luck, its not easy – but the results it can bring make it all worthwhile.

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