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Time to H.I.I.T. the Gym!

High-Intensity Interval Training, referred to as HIIT, is becoming an increasingly popular way to train among individuals at all different fitness levels, and rightfully so! HIIT is one of the most effective ways to burn fat. There are so many health benefits associated with this type of training that after reading this article you’re going to want to HIIT the gym!

What is HIIT?

HIIT involves short bouts of high-intensity exercise followed by low-intensity recovery periods or rest. For example, let’s say you sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 20 seconds, and then repeat multiple times. You give it all you’ve got for a set amount of time, followed by active recovery.

What types of exercises are done in HIIT?

One of the distinguishing characteristics of HIIT is that you can make it whatever you want. It’s a very customizable form of training; you can personalize your HIIT session to correspond to your own goals. The actual activity being performed widely varies, but can include things like sprinting, biking, jumping, and bodyweight exercises. HIIT can also be done in a circuit training fashion where you do handful of exercises back-to-back with minimal rest. Regardless of how it is implemented, it all works as long as it’s done at a high-intensity.

How long should your HIIT session be?

HIIT sessions can be as short as 10 minutes, but typically won’t take longer than 30 minutes. Due to the nature of HIIT, you physically shouldn’t be capable of performing HIIT for more than 30 minutes if you truly give it your all during the high-intensity intervals.

Examples of intervals:

  • 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off

  • 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off

  • 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

  • 60 seconds on, 60 seconds off

When should HIIT be done?

HIIT can be your entire workout or, what I like to do, add some HIIT at the end of weight training; it just depends on your goals, the exercises performed, and the length of your HIIT session. It can also be done as a “burnout” at the end of a lift. For example, if you’re training legs, at the end you might do a HIIT session that includes box jumps, jump squats, and jumping lunges to burnout your leg muscles.

Who should do HIIT?

Everyone, duh! No matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced gym-goer, no matter if you’re 16 or 65, you’re never too old to reap the benefits of HIIT. There are studies that have shown that HIIT training helps slow down natural age-related decline in muscles’ ability to function at high levels.

HIIT is especially great for those who want to alter their body composition and those who are short on time.

What are the benefits of HIIT?

  1. High-intensity exercise can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. You’ll burn the same amount of calories as compared to traditional low to moderate-intensity cardio, but in a shorter amount of time. So for example, you might burn 150 calories walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes. If you did sprinting HIIT intervals, you might burn 150 calories in only 15 minutes. Which leads into the next benefit of HIIT...

  2. It is time efficient. Because of its give-it-all-you’ve-got fashion, HIIT sessions will get you in and out of the gym quicker, while still expending the desired amount of energy.

  3. HIIT increases your metabolic rate. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is when your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate even after the physical activity is complete. Studies show that HIIT has a higher EPOC effect than steady state cardio, which means you will burn extra calories throughout your day.

  4. It will energize you. Studies have shown that HIIT boosts the energy producing capacity in the cells.

  5. It improves your cardiorespiratory fitness level. Maximal oxygen consumption, or the maximum amount of oxygen that your body is able to utilize during intense exercise, will improve. So the more oxygen your muscles use during exercise, the longer and harder you’re able to workout. This could also lead to a reduction in resting heart rate and blood pressure.

  6. It improves muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is the muscle’s ability to contract for an extended period of time. Your muscles will adapt to the stress placed on them by HIIT and as a result they will be able to produce and maintain force production over prolonged periods of time.

  7. It improves your speed, agility, and quickness. This is, of course, dependent on which types of exercises you’re performing in your HIIT routines, but due to the high-intensity nature, it’s likely whatever you’re doing is being done in a very rapid manner, improving your SAQ. Being able to accelerate, decelerate, and dynamically stabilize your entire body during high-velocity activity will also help is important because it can assist you in real life situations such as being able to react quickly when you trip.

  8. HIIT can be done anywhere. Traveling? Don’t have a gym membership? Don’t have time to commute to the gym? No problem! HIIT can be done with just your bodyweight, no special equipment needed. Get creative.

  9. It never gets boring! Because HIIT is a simple protocol and not a specific exercise, your HIIT sessions can be everchanging, ensuring you stick to it and never get bored.

Tips?

Start slow. Allow yourself to fully recover between intervals. If you work your body to the point of exhaustion, you might develop negative feelings towards HIIT right off the bat. Allow your body to adapt and strengthen by progressively increasing your training. This is a good way to also avoid injury.

Visit fit.bymandi on Instagram to see some of my favorite HIIT workouts.

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