HIIT. It’s been the golden child of home workouts. The choice for those with a fast-paced lifestyle and little time to work out. Many boutique classes and training forms, such as CrossFit, are based on the system. But what is the hype about HIIT? And what kind of goals does it lend itself towards? Here we’ll give you the 411 on all things HIIT - so that you can decide whether it’ll be a hit or miss for you.
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. This means short, timed bursts of intense activity followed by timed periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. These bursts of activity can not only be different types of activity but also different lengths of time. Making it one of the most adaptable training styles out there.
In general, HIIT is usually associated with bodyweight exercises such as burpees, press-ups, squats, squat jumps, lunge variations, sprints etc. Essentially anything that gets your heart rate up. However, it is also often paired with weights. This will slow down the speed but increase the overall load of the exercise, allowing you to reap some of the benefits of weightlifting too.
To get the most out of your HIIT workout:
- Always warm-up before jumping in
- Include exercises that are challenging - plan them ahead
- Stick to no more than 30 mins for the full workout
- Use a timer to set your work and rest periods. Whether that be on an app or otherwise.
- Shorter work time = shorter rest periods
What goals does it help with?
HIIT is primarily a cardio form of training. This means it will help with the goals of feeling fitter overall, increasing your speed and endurance. It has been linked with fat and weight loss too if paired with a well planned caloric deficit (but be sure to work with a pro on this).
As we’ve said before, you can also pair your HIIT workouts with weights. Whilst this isn’t the most effective way to build muscle if that is your primary goal it will help with simultaneous muscle retention and fat loss.
- Short and sweet. Done within ½ an hour including a warm-up.
- Keeps you focused. Having set periods doesn’t mean any procrastination.
- Gets you into the top range of your RPM. This will push your heart rate to the limit.
- Can truly do it anywhere. You don’t need a gym or any equipment, just yourself, exercises and a banging playlist.
- There are tonnes of free content out there on Youtube and other sites which will take you through the workout.
- As the same suggests, HIIT is intense. It takes a lot out of your body despite being, in general, a much shorter workout than your average gym-based session or run. This makes it much easier to overtrain. Most recommendations sit at the 2-3 times per week mark. So be sure to mix it in with other training styles too if you’re looking to train over 3 times per week.
- Easy to get injured. This is often due to not warming up enough, trying to do moves you haven’t tried before or using weights incorrectly. In all instances, your body is not ready for what you’re about to put it through. So be sure to focus on form and put yourself through a good warm-up before smashing out a HIIT session.
- Not as easy to see progress. If you do the same workout consistently, of course, you’ll see progress. However, unlike weights or running times, the view of progress is not as clear cut.
HIIT isn’t for everyone. But it’s a great tool to have at your disposal to mix up your training, move towards new goals or when you’re pressed for time. Give yourself sufficient recovery time between sessions and look after your body in between, and you’ll be onto a winner for sure.