HIIT or high intensity interval training is one of the top fitness trends and has been for a while now! And for good reason.
HIIT workouts are incredibly effective at burning calories and quickly accelerating your fitness level. This is because they are designed to stress the body to its max for limited periods of time thereby utilizing intensity to burn more calories and force your body to adapt more quickly to the greater physical demands you are putting on it.
The key is not just the intensity however, but the recovery. You can’t go 100% the entire workout or you would place too much stress on the body, likely injuring yourself or at the very least impeding progress from stress hormone and an extreme inflammatory response.
That’s why HIIT training is about pushing yourself during short bursts of your workout session so you're exercising at close to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) and then recovering at a lower intensity of roughly 60-70 percent of your MHR. These intervals can range anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes, depending on your level of fitness. Figuring out your MHR is simple -- just subtract your age from 220. So if you're 35, your MHR is 185 beats a minute.
HIIT training is also one of the best ways to enhance your afterburn, which means you will not only burn calories during the workout, but long after the workout is over (this is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC). And you don't have to be on a treadmill to engage in HIIT training; you can perform intervals on any piece of cardio equipment (such as a bike, stepmill, rower, etc.) or incorporate intense exercises like jumping jacks, mountain climbers and butt kicks into a strength-training routine.
One caveat, which is also a blessing, HIIT workouts should really never be longer than 30 minutes tops including warm up and cool down. While the recover periods during the workout are critical, making sure you don’t train at too high of an intensity over too long a period of time is also very important. In general I recommend a 20 minute session tops, not including any static stretching done after the workout is over.
Here is a sample HIIT workout for you to try that we are currently building into the HIIT section of the My Fitness App:
½ Mile Jog to Warm up
Workout: 3 rounds total
500 meter sprint in under 2:30 on the rower
10 floors in under 2:00 on the stair stepper
¼ mile sprint in under 2:00 on the treadmill.