Firstly, what is a HIIT workout?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or a HIIT workout is a very specific and particular form of exercise which can give you both a great work out and fast results.
In essence, a HITT workout is a cardio session arranged as short bursts of very hard work. In order for an exercise to be classed as HITT, you must be working at your maximum for every set or repetition. For that reason, the sets are short – from 20-90 seconds.
Think of it as the opposite of a long run, where you conserve energy so you can go for longer. At the end of each burst of activity, the tank should be empty.
How does a HIIT workout work?
Working at your hardest is the best way of increasing endurance levels, raising your metabolic rate, regulating insulin levels and losing body fat.
Compared to many other cardio workouts, a HIIT workout is also a more effective way of toning and building muscle. If you use kettlebells, medicine balls or dumbbells incorporated into your routine, then you will both tome muscle and boost endurance.
Are you working hard enough?
The level of intensity takes some getting used to. Fitness professionals will use a Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE) that describes the effort levels on a spectrum or 1-10. The maximum – 10 – is a ‘give it everything you have and collapse on the floor’ level of work. During a HITT routine, you should always be aiming for a 9 or 10 on the RPE. By way of contrast, a training run or a long cycle would register about 6 or 7 on the RPE.
And the outcome?
Working harder leads to a higher oxygen intake. In turn, this leads to greater calorie burning. And once you have stopped exercising, the body keeps burning calories – as much as 15 per cent more calories in the minutes and even hours after you stop exercising.
Rest is key
Between sets, it is imperative that you give your body time to rest. Here is the reason why: resting your body between sets means you have to acclimatise between two very different states. This in itself provides excellent cardio conditioning and again, leads to fat loss.
Here are the rules on HIIT
Work really hard, rest for a suitable period (when your heart rate returns to pre-exercise rate), then work really hard again. A good ratio, particularly for people new to HITT, is 1:2 ratio of work to rest. So if you work for 30 seconds, rest for 60 seconds. Work for 60 seconds, rest for 120 seconds. As you get accustomed to the intensity, then you can work to a 1:1 ratio.
Don’t overdo it
Too much HIIT is definitely not a good thing. If you work at your maximum capacity during every session you will soon kill all enthusiasm for high intensity work. You will also be more susceptible to injury as your body isn’t recovering from maximal effort. Mix it up and do a HIIT routine twice or three times a week. Balance it out with other, moderate exercise, such as a steady run or a fitness class.
For ideas of exercises that you can incorporate into a HIIT workout, talk to the personal trainers who are based in the Outlooks Gym at Kelsey Kerridge.