If you work out, know people who work out, or ever read anything on the internet about working out, you have probably heard of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. I know, it sounds “Intense” for lack of a better word. Sounds like something crazy bootcamp people would do, or a high school football team, or celebrities. But I am here to tell you ANYONE can do HIIT and EVERYONE can benefit from it.
The basic application of HIIT is to push yourself into an uncomfortable range during your cardio exercises and then fully recover, and then repeat for a certain amount of time. That’s it. That’s the magic equation.
Of course if you really start to dive into it, there is research on heart zones and RPE’s, and on time on vs. time off, and which intervals are better for weight loss and which ones are better to build endurance. There is so much info on HIIT, that it can be overwhelming and keep you from just trying it and reaping the benefits. Read below for the great benefits of HIIT and some “starter” workouts to get you going and on your way.
- You’ll Burn More Calories – Not only do you burn calories while you are performing your HIIT workout, but that burn will stay with you for up to 2 hours after your finish your workout. That means you can do your workout, shower, and head to work and still be getting a high calorie burn.
- Great for your Heart – Due to its high demand on your blood vessels, HIIT can increase the flexibility and the elasticity of your arteries and veins.
- Adaptable – You can do an HIIT workout on the treadmill, during a hike, in the middle of a bike ride, in a pool, everywhere and any movement can be turned into an HIIT session.
- Reduces Blood Sugar Levels – After just 2 weeks of HIIT, one study found that there was an increase of glucose metabolism in the muscles, bringing sugar levels back to normal.
- Saves You Time – Because you are working harder, you don’t have to work for very long. You can get most of the same benefits in 15 minutes of HIIT session that you can get in 1 hour of jogging according to a 2013 study.
- More Weight Loss – According to one study of persons with Type 2 diabetes, HIIT training has a bigger affect on weight loss than steady cardio.
- Increased VO2 max – This means your body can utilize oxygen better during intense exercise. You will be able to work harder and harder, but it will start to feel easier.
- Increased Endurance and Stamina – Just 1 minute of high intensity work can improve your endurance. The benefits of your quick HIIT workout will carry over to your next big hike, bike ride, run.
- Reduces Liver Fat – According to a 2015 study, HIIT can help reduce the fat surrounding your liver by up to 16% in just 12 weeks of training.
The bottom line is…If you are not doing HIIT…START.
Here are a 3 HIIT workouts for the beginner/intermediate athlete (and by athlete, I mean you, not Tom Brady).
Walker’s Delight Routine
- 0-5 Minutes – Walk at Regular Pace.
- 30 seconds High Intensity – Uphill walking, quicker pace, skipping, big arm swings, anything that gets you heart pumping really nice.
- 1.5 minutes Low Intensity – Regular walking pace or slower, dynamic stretching, backwards walking. Just don’t stop moving.
- Repeat Step 2 and 3 for a minimum of 10 minutes or a maximum of 20 minutes.
- Last 5 minutes – Walk slow or stop and stretch to cool down.
Rainy Day Treadmill Routine
- 0-5 minutes – Warm up with brisk walking or slow jog.
- 45 seconds High Intensity – Increase the incline or speed to get your heart pumping.
- 2 minutes Low Intensity – Back to your brisk walking or slower jog.
- Repeat Step 2 and 3 for 6 circuits.
- Walk slow for the last 3-5 minutes.
New Runner Neighborhood Blitz
- 0-5 minutes – Warm up by walking a 2×1 block circle around a neighborhood (2 block straightaway to a right turn to a 1 block straightaway to a right turn to another 2 blocks, followed by a right turn to 1 block to bring you back to the beginning of your circle.)
- 5-10 minutes – Walk the 2 block straightaway, run the 1 block straightaway.
- 10-15 minutes – Run the 2 block straightaway, walk the 1 block straightaway.
- 15-16 minutes – walk
- 16-18 minutes – run
- 18 – 20 minutes – walk
- End at 20 minutes or repeat steps 2 and 3 to make it a full 30-minute workout.