HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a type of exercise that blasts body fat and builds muscle fast. The strategy is simple. After a warm-up, you will workout at intervals of intense exercise for a short period of time followed by a brief rest period. You don’t need exercise equipment unless you want to use them. HIIT workouts can consist of cardio exercises, bodyweight exercises or a combination of them. There are lots of pre-planned HIIT workouts you can try, or you can modify a HIIT workout to accommodate your level of fitness and goals. Your best option is to work with a fitness professional to develop a workout specifically for you. If you are feeling stagnant or bogged down by your regular fitness routine, HIIT might be just the workout to take your fitness to the next level. Check with your doctor before beginning a high intensity workout and remember to eat a healthy diet!
A good ratio of time for HIIT workouts is 2:1 (intensity and rest). Exercise at an intense level twice as long as the rest period. The entire HIIT workout includes a 5 minute warm-up, 6 to 10 repetitions of a high intensity exercise that should last for about 30 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of medium to light intensity exercise. Workout by alternating high intensity with medium to light intensity for 20 minutes. Finish off your workout with 5 to 10 minutes of light exercise to cool-down and return your heart rate and breathing to a normal rate. During the 30 second burst of high intensity exercise, your muscles will build up lactic acid that contributes to fatigue. Your body removes much of the lactic acid during the 15 second interval of light to medium exercise, getting your muscles ready for the next powerful round of exercise. The key to an effective HIIT workout is to push your body to its limit, recover and then push yourself hard again.
HIIT improves your endurance, even if you are already in good shape and conditioned. High intensity exercise places your body in an anaerobic state where your cells demand more oxygen than your breathing can supply. You will be breathing hard and unable to carry on a conversation in the anaerobic state. The brief recovery time of light to moderate exercise returns your body to the aerobic state. Your body will burn more fat and calories when you do HIIT than it does when you do 30 minutes of sustained moderate aerobic exercise. HIIT may also help lower your cholesterol and improve your cardiovascular health and endurance. Because HIIT burns fat from all over your body, including unhealthy abdominal fat, you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and other diseases associated with abdominal and visceral fat. Just two weeks of regular HIIT workouts can increase your resting metabolic rate and lower your insulin resistance, so that your body uses glucose more efficiently and effectively.
HIIT Cardio Exercises
HIIT cardio exercises are measured in seconds. A common ratio is 2:1, which you will exercise twice as long at a high intensity then rest with moderate to light intensity. Running is a good way to improve endurance and cardiovascular efficiency. Warm up for 5 minutes with some brisk walking or jumping rope. Run as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Walk at a brisk pace or jog for 15 seconds. Run all out again for another 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rapid walking. If you like to ride a bicycle, turn your regular ride into a high intensity interval training session. Ride at a moderate pace to warm up then push yourself by riding as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of slow riding. You can accomplish the same HIIT benefits on a stationary exercise bike. Mix up your aerobic exercise routine by alternating calisthenic exercises. Jump rope to warm-up and then jump hard for 30 seconds. Slow down for 15 seconds and then jump as fast as you can for another 30 seconds. Watch this great HIIT jump rope cardio video to see how the workout is set up.
You can also do 30 seconds of intense jumping jacks followed by 15 seconds of marching in place and then high intensity jumping jacks for another 30 seconds. Switch up your routine by doing alternating high intensity and low intensity knee raises. Use a stair stepper machine or climb stairs for a great HIIT workout that will firm and tone your legs, hips and glutes while burning fat and improving your cardiovascular health. Climb stairs or use the stair stepper machine at maximum effort for 30 to 40 seconds and then slow down for 15 to 20 seconds. Increase the intensity of your HIIT workout by holding a 2-5 pound dumbbell in each hand. You can also combine 2 different exercises into your HIIT cardio workouts. Watch this stair sprints and jump rope HIIT workout video for more details!
HIIT Bodyweight Exercises
Bodyweight exercises use your own weight against the force of gravity. Bodyweight exercises do not require equipment. You will be performing these exercises rapidly, so it’s important that you perform the exercises using correct form to reduce your risk of injury. Some common bodyweight exercises are pushups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, crunches, leg lifts and planks. Start your HIIT bodyweight workout with a brisk walk or jog until you start to sweat to warm-up. Do 20 or more pushups as fast as you can for at least 30 seconds. Stand up and do slow squats for 15 seconds. For the next high intensity exercise, do walking lunges for another 30 seconds. Rest by doing a 15 second plank exercise. Get some dumbbells and do 15 seconds of alternating rows with each arm. Rest by doing slow squats for 15 seconds. Repeat from the beginning. You can cool down by doing some light jogging or jumping rope. Make sure to read my other article about the top 5 bodyweight exercises you can include in your workouts!
Nutrition and Hydration
Combine a healthy diet with regular exercise to lose fat and build muscle. Adopt a low-fat, high protein diet to help increase lean muscle tissue. Drink 8 to 16 ounces of water before your high intensity interval training workout. Keep a couple of bottles of water nearby when you are working out to rehydrate your body regularly during your routine. You are going to sweat a lot, so it’s important that you drink at least 1 cup of water every 8 to 10 minutes throughout your HIIT workout to avoid dehydration.