Do you ever crave for that super intense sweat session that makes you feel the burn and take your breath away? Or maybe you just crave something that's not going to take hours, but will still have an effective impact on your body. That sounds a lot like a HIIT workout.
What is HIIT?
"HIIT" is short for "High-Intensity Interval Training", it’s a form of interval training and a cardio exercise that alternates short bursts of intense anaerobic exercise with short sets of recovery.
It’s become one of the most popular forms of working out, partly because of its effectiveness in aiding lean muscle development, fat-burn, boosting endurance and increasing metabolism.
The training often involves bodyweight work and added weights that will tone your muscles and spike your heart rate right up!
Sounds like a lot? That’s the whole point. Ramping up the intensity of your training will enable your body to increase oxygen intake and increase calorie burn. High-intensity cardio can raise your metabolic rate to a point where your body will continue to burn calories even post-workout - this is a huge benefit as it means you'll continue to enjoy the impact of your exercise even after you've stopped.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT workouts tend to focus on your full body and allow you to build lean muscle and burn calories at the same time. It’s a great way to keep your heart rate up – and we all know that is the hallmark of an effective cardio session. A HIIT session is ordered in short bursts of very hard work, to ramp up the intensity of the cardio aspect of training.
Intensity is key to reap the full benefits of a HIIT session. The work you put into your HIIT workout determines how effective your training will be. To get the most out of your training, your physical exertion has to be intense. If we were to put that on a scale of one to then, with 10 being give-it-everything-you’ve-got-and-more, you’d be sweating and panting at a 9 and that's where you should be in HIIT.
And it’s not just about the intensity, sweat or calories, studies have suggested that HIIT can also increase your VO2 Max levels (an important indicator of cardio fitness levels) and also reduce your lactate accumulation, so you can push even harder during training.
Levels of HIIT Training
Before we dive into HIIT and how we’ve found it to be an incredible addition to our lifestyle, it’s worth noting that these exercises are intense so always take into consideration your fitness levels before diving in on a new exercise program. Ease into it at the start and gradually increase the level of difficulty as you improve.
The rules are simple. An interval involves very intense training, rest, and repeat. There is no hard and fast rule of how to conduct a HIIT session, you choose your exercises and rest periods according to your abilities and seek to improve on this in your next session. As long as you can do it at a high intensity and keep the effort constant at every interval and sustain it across the workout, then you're golden.
Here are some suggestions for varied fitness levels:
- Beginner - 20 seconds of intense work, followed by two minutes of active recovery (eg walking) or even complete rest. Repeat the cycle three times and the workout is complete!
- Intermediate (10:20) – this is 10 seconds of intense work with 20 seconds of active or complete rest (with a 10-minute warm-up), repeat the 10:20 cycle 7 times!
- Advanced (10:20:30): here we do 5 “chunks” of exercise, in each chunk, there are 30 seconds of work at 30% of maximum effort, 20 seconds at 60% and then 10 seconds flat out!
What are some exercise options for the “work” portion of HIIT training?
Each interval of HIIT training can involve many different types of exercises that range from bodyweight exercises, to running, cycling, rowing, weight-training, boxing etc. The exercise options are endless!
If you’re training on your own, it’s entirely up to you if you prefer going through a circuit of different exercises, or sticking to a couple or a few. The former may allow for a variety of different exercises which way target more muscle groups. The latter may make it easier to stay within time goals because it may require less switching of exercise equipment during rest periods.
A few of our favourite options –
- The infamous burpee – done correctly this can be an incredibly effective exercise for both fitness and speed.
- Lunge jumps – did someone say booty goals? Yes, please!
- Jump squats – the burn on these is incredible and will definitely work up a sweat.
- High knees – intense, good for flexibility, and seriously challenging.
- Star jumps – great for both the upper and lower body, and a massive cardio exercise
In a nutshell, that’s HIIT training, short bursts of intense exercise followed by short sets of recovery. It’s effective, but also relatively fast to complete, so you can easily incorporate it into a busy lifestyle. Remember, recovery days are also vital to ensure that you avoid injury and for you to be able to have the capacity required for your next HIIT workout.
It’s important that you fuel your body effectively, especially when you’re exercising. The Free Soul Protein Blends, in both the Vegan and Whey bases, can be used as a perfect recovery shake, we’ve popped a link to them below!
Always remember to warm-up and cool-down before, and after, your workout. Stretching is often overlooked but it’s essential to ensure longevity and prevent injuries.