What is a HIIT Workout?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an enhanced form of cardio interval training in which you alternate periods of short high intense intervals with slow less intense recovery periods. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise. Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 4–40 minutes, meaning that it is considered to be an excellent way to maximize a workout in a limited amount of time. These short, intense workouts provide improved metabolism, improved fat burning and cardiovascular conditioning.
A HIIT session often consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by three to ten repetitions of high intensity exercise, separated by medium intensity exercise for recovery, and ending with a period of cool down exercise. The high intensity exercise is done at near maximum intensity, (working at a level of 8-9 on a perceived rate of exertion chart). The number of repetitions and length of each depends on the exercise, but may be as little as three repetitions with just 20 seconds of intense exercise.
A common formula involves a 2:1 ratio of work to recovery periods, for example, 200–40 seconds of an intensive workout, like sprinting alternated with 10–20 seconds of rest or a slow intensive workout like jogging or walking.
Traditional recommendations for physical fitness have taken a different approach, emphasizing moderate aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes, three to five days a week. Recent studies, however, have shown that higher intensity exercise can be equally, if not more effective for improving health and aiding fat loss. Moreover, the workouts can be done in just a few short sessions per week. High-intensity sessions also appear to make lower intensity exercise sessions much easier.
For health, HIIT has been shown to improve markers of cardiovascular disease by reducing fasting glucose, improving insulin sensitivity, increasing aerobic fitness, raising (“good”) HDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and decreasing body fat. Research has shown that 3-4 HIIT workout a week done for a month can burn anywhere from 7-10% of body fat.
HIIT technique can be applied either as a separate exercise plan in case that you are in a hurry, or as an intense complement to your existing plan. HIIT training can literally have hundreds of forms. Depending on your objectives, combine exercises, tools and time intervals to obtain the optimal result.