What is HIIT Training and its Main Benefits?
With how busy and distracted our modern lives today, most people are left with little time for exercise. Fortunately, there is a technique that can help you get the benefit of a full workout at less than half of the time.
The first thing that comes to mind when people read this acronym, is it sounds like a prolonged version of the word “hit.” This is certainly not a typo and this post will tell you more about the benefits of this revolutionary workout technique. So, what is HIIT training exactly?
High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a technique that emphasizes the difficulty of a
workout rather than the time spent to do it. Often, this technique requires you to draw out more effort and energy but at a shorter period. When the workout is done in sets, there is a short period of rest in between.
More time spent on workouts doesn’t always equate to more weight loss or better gains. Altering the intensity of your workouts coupled with a decent amount of recovery time can make your exercise routines more effective. In retrospect, this is what is HIIT training trying to resolve- a short but impactful workout.
HIIT is perfect for people who have little time on their hands to do workouts that require a few hours. If you are someone who has only 30-minutes to exercise then you may want to consider this type of training.
If you ask me what is HIIT training all about?
The short answer is it’s- optimizing your workout within a short timeframe but with near maximum effort. The main difference to other forms of exercise is it focuses more on the intensity of the workout rather than the amount spent on the activity. Hence, instead of jogging at a steady pace for an hour, you can instead sprint for 30 seconds and have 15-20 seconds rest before doing it again for 10-12 times.
Over the years, HIIT has become popular among fitness practitioners for several reasons. Its fundamentals can be applied to any type of physical activity or sport. Moreover, it delivers results while lessening the time spent on a workout. Overall, HIIT is a type of routine you want to add on your weekly regimen.
There are a lot of things happening in your body while doing HIIT. Because it’s much more intense and it requires more effort your body uses more energy. It also forces the body to pump more blood and supply more oxygen. It can also trigger the body to use some hormones to help you cope with the high-intensity workout.
With that said, let us look into what is HIIT training and how you can integrate HIIT into your exercises.
How to Incorporate HIIT Into Your Workouts
There are several elements that you have to be familiar with before you can add HIIT into your training plan or weekly routines. Because you can use HIIT in a wide variety of motions and actions, it allows your exercises to be flexible and target certain muscle groups.
HIIT is also not an athlete-only method as almost anyone can do it. The exercises can be
complex or as simple as you want it to be. While it mostly benefits your metabolism, stamina and endurance, this method can also strengthen other parts of your body.
Below are some tips on how you can incorporate HIIT into your exercise routine:
1. Be True to Your Fitness Level
HIIT can be physically demanding because it focuses on the intensity of the workout. While it’s true that you only have to do each rep at a relatively shorter time, the workout can still wear you down. For that reason, you need to be honest about your fitness level and not overdo the intensity of the training or you could result in overtraining.
For example, if you consider yourself a “normal” guy who isn’t involved in any sport or has no consistent exercise routine, then you shouldn’t be doing burpees right from the start. Instead, you can do the easier exercises such as mountain climbers, lateral lunges with hops, tuck-ups and flutter kicks.
2. Pick a Workout Routine that Suits You
The great thing about HIIT is you can incorporate it to almost any type of workout or routine. Choose anywhere between 4 to 8 exercises depending on how much time you have. You can also customize your routine so that it serves a specific purpose. For example, if you want to lose weight then choose exercises that are more mobile rather than those which are stationary.
If you are into sports then you can also do more of the workouts that best compliments the
muscle groups that are commonly used on that activity. If you are into running, for example, then you should focus on your legs, core, and breathing. What is HIIT training if you can’t have a personalized workout plan? To get a more customized workout, consult a personal trainer and get their recommendations.
3. Know Your Limits
What is HIIT training good for, if you can’t get past your limits? At its core, HIIT is most
effective when the intensity of the workout approaches nearer to your body’s limit. For this
reason, you want to know how high of a ceiling you can reach in terms of your physical
conditioning. This may require some trial and error at the start, but once you get a feel of how much activity you can do everything will be a breeze.
What you are looking for is an intensity where you can exert 90-per cent effort or more. However, you also have to ensure you have more left in your tank and you can still recover
during the rest period. If you have a personal trainer or fitness coach, you can ask them for their input regarding this topic.
4. Choose the Right Amount of Sets
Aside from intensity, another factor that you can control in your HIIT workout is its repetition. This will require a bit of trial and error from the start. The most effective way is to start with a set that is comfortable for you to do depending on the exercise you’ve chosen. If you are confident with only 6 to 12 plyo push-ups at the start, then do so.
After every session or workout, you can adjust the number of sets based on your past
performances and your fitness goals. Again, you are looking for that sweet spot where you are putting in the effort but at the same time at a recoverable pace.
5. Rest Well and Take Necessary Breaks
Another key element in HIIT exercises is taking breaks or rest. Doing HIIT allows you to tap not only your anaerobic system during the routine but also to your aerobic system when at rest. During your break period, the aerobic system replaces the body’s lost energy allowing you to resume the intense training.
The general rule is that for every amount of work you have to take the same amount of rest or double it. In other words, the ratio of work and rest is at least 1:1 or up to 1:2. For example, if you did a 1-minute exercise then you can rest for one minute or two depending on your fitness level.
7 Examples of HIIT Exercises
What is HIIT training worth if you can’t perform it in virtually anywhere. Whether it is indoors or outdoors and in your home or at the gym, you can always perform HIIT. Another great thing about HIIT is that you can do it without any exercise equipment.
Below are some examples of HIIT exercises which you can do in any flat surface.
From a basic standing position, bend your hips and knees into a squatting position. Then,
transition into a plank position by placing your hands in front before kicking back your feet.
Dropdown to the floor and press your arms forward. After which jump your feet forward and finish it with a straight leap back into your standing position. Do at least 10-15 reps for one set.
2. Mountain Climbers
Start in a planking position in a way that your shoulders are above your wrists. Alternatively, drive your knees toward your chest in a fast motion as if you are running. Do this anywhere between 20-30 seconds.
3. Plyo push-ups
Assume a planking position with your hands shoulder-width apart while keeping your feet
together. Slowly lower your body towards the ground while keeping your back flat. Then, with an explosive movement push-up away from the floor instantaneously. Land with your hands and make sure to keep your head from moving forward first. Do at least 6-12 reps for one set.
4. Side Lunges with Hops
From your usual standing position, bring your body down assuming a squatting position. Step one of your feet to the side and as wide as you can. Keep the other leg as straight as possible while getting into a sitting posture. Then, move your outer leg back into the centre while lifting your upper body into a standing position. After which, jump up with arms raised and come back to the starting position. Repeat at least 10-16 times for one set.
5. Superman with Lateral Raises
Lie with your back on the stomach facing the floor. Extend your arms forward and assume
Superman’s flying position. Then lift both feet and arms upward away from the floor. Spread your arms sideways and then slowly get back to the original position. Repeat this for 8-12 times to complete one set.
6. Flutter Kicks
While lying on your back on the floor, bring your two hands together under your back near your buttocks. Keep your body straight while making sure your legs and feet are up to the floor. Alternatively, lift your legs as if kicking in the air. Repeat this for 15-30 seconds to log in one set.
7. Star Jumps
Assume a standing position. Then jump up and create a star-shaped figure in midair with your feet and hands away from each other. Upon landing, make sure your knees are slightly bent and your arms just beside them. Repeat 10-15 times for one set.
The number of sets you need for each exercise will depend on your fitness level and schedule. However, make sure that when you are dialled in and your motions are fluid while doing these HIIT exercises.
Benefits of HIIT Training
What is HIIT training for if you aren’t going to get any health benefits from it? Because it forces the body to consume and replenish energy at a fast pace, HIIT is known for increasing the body’s metabolism. Hence, it’s one of the best training routines for those who want to lose weight.
The following are some of the HIIT benefits you can get once you integrated it into your fitness regimen:
1. Better Endurance
Because of the alternating intense workout and short rest, HIIT forces your body to consume more oxygen. Your body then responds by supplying more oxygen to your blood and muscles. Over time this increases your VO2 max related to your endurance level. In short, HIIT can also give you the benefits as anaerobic exercises like running.
2. Build Specific Muscles
Because of its flexibility and a wide variety of movements, you can customize your HIIT
workout to target specific muscle groups. For example, you can perform short bursts of sprints even in your stationary bike which targets leg muscles specific for cycling. Many of HIIT’s movements also rely on explosiveness and use of fast-twitch muscles which can benefit athletes of any sports discipline.
3. Stronger Heart
During any HIIT training, it’s normal to feel your heart racing and it’s often a good sign. Because your body requires more oxygen for burning energy, your heart has to pump more blood to deliver them. The intensity of the workout also exercises the heart and make it stronger as it keeps up with your body’s demand.
4. Highly Motivating
Finally, HIIT is a motivating workout wherein you always need to equip that “no quit” attitude. It’s quite hard especially for beginners, but it blesses you with a positive mindset. After all that hard workout, you will surely feel unstoppable. So, the answer to your question- what is HIIT training? It’s an intense workout that is efficient and doesn’t require too much time or equipment.
We hope that we have provided all of the things you initially need to know about what is HIIT training all about. It’s a good addition to your current workout routine that can deliver results fast. The fact that it can be done anywhere and almost by just about anyone, makes it one of the best fitness ideas to keep you in shape.