(HIIT) High intensity interval training – A Guide
High-intensity interval training or ‘HIIT’ as it is more commonly known, is a training technique designed to shred fat quickly without losing muscle.
For many avid gym-goers and bodybuilders cardio can often feel like the bane of their existence.
Hours and hours of continuous running on a treadmill or peddling away on a bike just to fight off a little extra unwanted poundage, or to trim down your body fat percentage to a level at which you can see some real definition in the mirror.
However, all too often all those hours of work prove to be for nothing, as week by week you notice no significant changes to your physique and start to wonder why you even bother trying.
The problem with any cardiovascular work of this kind is that it falls under the category of ‘Aerobic exercise’, which is performed primarily to boost endurance levels.
Your time spent toiling away on machines for long periods will not be completely in vain, as you begin to get fitter and improve your overall stamina. However, losing fat is very much a secondary benefit that will take far longer to achieve.
It is not the most efficient way of working out to trim down.
That’s where HIIT comes in. Alternating short, intense bursts of physical exertion with brief rests for between 15-30 minutes is the basic outline of this form of training and it can produce far quicker and more extreme results than conventional cardio.
Below I will identify the main benefits of including HIIT in your weekly exercise regime and several different ways of performing this advanced training technique.
HIIT Me With Your Rhythm Stick
There are numerous established benefits of HIIT training;
Burning more fat
High-intensity exercise will force your body to expend more energy, falling into the category of ‘anaerobic exercise’.
This kind of training will leave you feeling breathless as you quickly use up your body’s oxygen supply in order to push yourself as hard as possible.
You will burn more calories this way and whats more, you will continue to burn them throughout the day following completion of your HIIT session.
Time management efficiency
In this day and age many people live fast-paced, busy lives and end up leaving themselves very little free time for self-improvement.
If you find yourself working in an office from 9 to 5 and dealing with a commute which takes between 1-2 hours every single day, fitting in any meaningful exercise can prove difficult and daunting.
HIIT is the solution you’ve been dreaming of, as you only need a spare half an hour at the most to complete a workout and it can be done without having to attend your local gym.
No need for equipment or machines
Of course, you can use equipment and machines to execute a proper HIIT session but they are by no means a necessity.
Body weight movements such as press-ups, sit-ups, burpees and squats can all be used to great effect in quick bursts.
Not to mention the fact that you can execute sprinting intervals anywhere with a large patch of grass or vacated space. Not being able to get the gym is not a good enough excuse, start finding creative ways of exercising whenever and wherever you can.
Speeds up your metabolism
HIIT can send your metabolic rate through the roof, which is a great thing if you are serious about building a lean physique.
A higher metabolism means that your body will digest food and absorb nutrients quicker as well as recover after exercise more efficiently. Additionally, this type of training helps speed up the production of your human growth hormone which is vital for muscle repair and increasing lean muscle mass, as well as increasing overall energy levels and performance.
HIIT training is great for anyone looking to achieve a dry, shredded look because despite burning through a crazy amount of calories, you will not lose any muscle in the process.
Continuous aerobic cardio has been known to eat away at muscle, causing you to lose size and strength but with interval training, this issue won’t be a factor.
Not only this but HIIT actually raises your testosterone levels which can help trigger significant muscle growth.
Implementing a HIIT workout
There are so many different ways to perform a good HIIT session that it would be impossible for me to list every single possible workout. However, what I can do is show you an example of two of the most common ways this technique is used and from there you will be able to experiment with different exercises as you see fit during your weekly routine.
To begin, let’s take a look at the most convenient and time-effective method, which takes the form of a bodyweight circuit.
Body weight HIIT workout
Anyone familiar with circuit training will soon be able to pick this up but if not this information should serve as an easy guide for you to get started.
- Press Ups – perform a set of conventional press ups, hands shoulder width apart, continuously for 40 seconds.
– Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Burpees – Get yourself up and get jumping before moving straight into a squat thrust, keep going for 40 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Air Bike – Get into a sit-up position, raise your head and legs off the ground and bring your knee to your elbow, alternating between each leg continuously for 40 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Jump Squat – Again get jumping but this time on the way down sink into a deep squat before jumping right back up, keep that rhythm going for 40 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Sprints – Whether you’re in a sports hall or an open field, mark out a distance of about 50 meters and sprint from one end to the other for 40 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
HIIT workout with weights
If you have access to a gym or basic equipment at home, use the tools at your disposal to add significant resistance to your high-intensity workout.
- Kettlebell Swings – Grab a kettlebell that is a challenging weight but not so heavy that you will be unable to perform multiple repetitions. Maintain a neutral spine and start swinging, don’t stop for 40 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Dumbbell single arm clean and press– Put a dumbbell you can manage for multiple reps on the floor and grab it with one hand maintaining a neutral spine before bringing it up to your shoulder and pressing it into the air. Complete 5 rep’s on each arm until the timer runs out after 40 seconds of work. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Dumbbell Lunges – Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lunge forward, making sure to press back up on your front leg. Alternate between legs each rep for 40 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
- Renegade Rows – Also known as a single arm plank row; assume the plank position holding two weights and alternate between arms bringing them into towards your abdominals. Perform the movement for 40 seconds, then rest for 30 and repeat 3-5 times.
- Bent over rows – Using either dumbbells or a barbell, hold out the weight in front of you with your back arched over in a neutral position and pull the weight into your abdominals. Perform the movement for 40 seconds, then rest for 30 and repeat 3-5 times.
BOTH workouts I have touched upon here are effective but another more advanced way to challenge yourself as you progress further would be to perform each exercise back to back before resting and repeating the entire series 3-5 times.
So there you have it, a new way of training which can save you time and produce results faster than you ever thought possible. High-intensity interval training will be a shock to your system at first and extremely difficult the first few times you try it.
However, your body will quickly adapt and begin changing for the better, as you lose any stubborn fat and start to look more toned and vascular in the mirror.
Remember to pick exercises and weights depending on your strength and experience levels in and outside the gym, whilst also implementing a good nutritious diet to go alongside your exercise routine.
Cardio doesn’t have to be a chore that you dread anymore, now that you have HIIT in your arsenal you can start to look forward to challenging yourself and expanding your repertoire of exercises.
Don’t limit yourself or create non-existent barriers when thinking about improving your physique, simply do some research and make the most out of any resources you have at your disposal.