The majority of HIIT workouts available on the internet are not actual HIIT. That’s why, in this post, I’ll go over how to correctly incorporate an HIIT workout into your training regimen so you get the most out of it.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the most popular fitness buzzwords in the last decade. In fact, the HIIT workout first gained popularity in the broader fitness industry in 1996. That was the year that Dr. Tabata published a paper explaining a new interval training regimen he devised.
It consists of numerous rounds of alternating between short, high-intensity training periods and a brief rest time. He discovered that approach produced better benefits in terms of cardiovascular fitness. And, even better, it takes significantly less time than steady-state cardio.
Since then, researchers have discovered that HIIT can deliver superior, or at least comparable, improvements in cardiovascular fitness, athletic performance, and weight loss as traditional lengthier, less intense exercise sessions. However, in a fraction of the time (e.g. 13 minutes HIIT vs 40 minutes steady-state cardio).
This is really important because we know that one of (if not the most) frequently reported hurdles to exercise adherence is a lack of time.
The Issue With Random HIIT Workouts Found On The Internet
The problem now is that this study has opened the floodgates to “5-minute workouts” that promise to melt fat. Since then, the industry has misused HIIT. And completely out of context. Most HIIT routines you’ll discover on the internet and have undoubtedly tried aren’t actual HIIT. As a result, it will not provide the specific benefits that HIIT does.
But in today’s article, I’ll teach you how to create a proper HIIT workout for yourself. You also don’t have to worry about having access to equipment. The HIIT routines are designed to accommodate whether you’ll be doing them at home with no equipment or at the gym. In addition, I’ll go through how to correctly implement these HIIT workouts so that you get the most out of the regimen.
Maintain a high enough intensity during your HIIT workout.
When exercising HIIT, the single most crucial thing is to maintain a high enough intensity and a raised heart rate. And it’s why most people who think they’re doing HIIT aren’t actually doing HIIT at all. As Dr. Tabata himself stated in a recent 2019 publication, “…too much thought is put on the protocol with too little emphasis placed on the actual intensity at which they complete it.”
There are two things you should do here to guarantee you’re working hard enough.
First, during your work intervals, push yourself as hard as you can or as near to it as you can. Being “weary” is insufficient. The goal for each of your work intervals is to raise your heart rate to at least 85% of your maximum heart rate. So, if you’re 25 years old, what should you do? This corresponds to a heart rate of at least 165 beats per minute.
You don’t have a heart rate monitor? Then there’s an easy test to see if you’re working hard enough: “if you can say more than a few words without pausing for a breath during or shortly after your work interval, then you’re not working hard enough.”
It’s straightforward, yet it corresponds quite strongly with intensity.
Make use of Active Rest Intervals.
Second, keep moving at a moderate pace during your rest intervals. This will enable you to: increase your overall oxygen intake, resulting in more calories burned and higher physiological gains AND
Make sure your average heart rate remains high during the HIIT program.
At the same time, don’t go overboard. In some investigations, the rest period was simply brisk walking. The idea is to remain moving at a tempo that will aid rather than hinder your recovery for your next training interval.
Make Use of Appropriate Work:
There is no standard methodology for HIIT. There is also no precise ratio for your work-to-rest intervals. Numerous studies have shown that different intervals can be employed to generate meaningful physiological changes, as long as the intensity is there. Based on the research, it appears that a work:rest ratio of 2:1 is the most time-efficient. That was generally the bare minimum of time required for individuals to recuperate sufficiently between work intervals.
This could seem like a 30-second sprint followed by a 15-second brisk walk.
However, keep in mind that your present level of fitness will define the best work:rest ratio for you. The only true disadvantage of using lengthier rest times is that the workout will take longer to finish. But it’s the intensity that counts. So, what should you do if you find yourself getting way too gassed during your work intervals? Then you should use a slightly longer rest period or a slightly shorter work interval.
A work:rest ratio of 1:2 (e.g., 30 second sprint with 1 minute brisk walk in between) would be a decent starting point.
This can eventually be advanced in the following manner:
Work-to-rest ratio of 1:1 (e.g. 30 second sprint with 30 second brisk walk in between) THEN, if necessary, use a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio (e.g. 30 second sprint intervals with a 15 second brisk walk in between)
Choose the option that is best for you. And put greater emphasis on intensity.
Choose the Best Exercises for Your HIIT Workout
Okay, we’ve got the intensity and structure of the workout down pat. It is now time to choose your exercises. You should utilize exercises that are appropriate for your:
AND THE AVAILABILITY OF EQUIPMENT
Make a concerted effort to raise your heart rate.
But, once again, it’s all about the intensity. So you have a lot of leeway in terms of workout selection.
Sprints on an exercise bike are a basic yet effective alternative if you’re in the gym. It has a low impact, is gentle on the joints, and has the least danger of harm. However, you can complete your HIIT workout on any modality you have available (rowing machine, assault bike, treadmill). Just keep in mind that some workouts, such as all-out sprints on a treadmill, will put extra strain on your joints. And will be more vulnerable to injury. Simply perform the workout at a slower pace for rest intervals.
Choose the proper bodyweight exercises, and they might be just as effective.
What if you’re at home and don’t have any equipment? Or, perhaps you simply want to change things up? Then all you need is your bodyweight if you choose the appropriate workouts.
Research, for example, contrasted the identical HIIT program on all-out cycle sprints vs burpees. What were the results? The researchers discovered that if individuals maintained the same intensities, both exercises were equally effective at eliciting physiological effects. Burpees, in fact, have been found in tests to produce an average heart rate of 170 BPM, which is comparable to an all-out sprint.
Other useful bodyweight exercises that have been effectively used in several HIIT research, in addition to burpees (which I know we all adore), include:
Jumps from a squat
Climbers on the mountain
Jumps a star
For your work intervals, try one of these exercises. You may also mix and match them for extra diversity. And for your relaxation intervals, leisurely running in place or slow jumping jacks would be ideal.
Avoid utilizing strength training activities such as weighted squats or push-ups, as well as ab workouts such as sit-ups. Those workouts will be difficult to do in order to reach your desired heart rate safely. And, in my opinion, should be done as part of a distinct strength training session.
Your HIIT workout duration should be determined by your training goal.
Finally, you must decide on the duration of your HIIT workout. Plus, how many rounds you want to commit to after you’ve warmed up adequately. And it all comes down to your goals and why you’re doing HIIT in the first place.
Are you attempting to enhance or maintain your cardiovascular fitness? According to research, an 8-minute HIIT workout with a 1:1 work:rest ratio is sufficient.
Do you want to burn more calories for fat loss? You’ll have to put forth a little more effort. That’s because HIIT was created to improve performance rather than lose belly fat by burning a lot of calories.
To put this into perspective, research that employed only squat jumps and a 20-second work to 10 second rest time discovered that female subjects burnt an average of 54 calories after a round of 4 minutes. If you took a little break between each of these 4-minute mini-workouts and totaled 20 minutes, you could expect to burn slightly more than 200 calories (216 calories). And possibly much more, depending on your body weight.
Similarly, research of predominantly male respondents yielded comparable findings. A 16-minute HIIT cycling program (1 minute work, 1 minute rest) burnt an average of 209 calories. In the study, the greatest statistics I saw ranged from 240 to 360 calories for a 20-minute bodyweight HIIT training in male subjects.
Obviously, the range will vary based mostly on your bodyweight. However, if you’re performing HIIT to improve your performance, a shorter 8-minute exercise would most likely suffice. However, if you want to burn a significant amount of calories to aid in your fat loss efforts, increasing the number of rounds to at least 20 minutes is the best option.
HIIT Workout Examples
So, to put it all together, here’s a 10-minute home HIIT workout plus a 10-minute cycling program, both with a 1:1 work to rest ratio. Feel free to adjust the work:rest ratio and durations to suit your fitness level.
10-Minute HIIT Workout at Home
WORK – Burpees: 1 minute of ACTIVE REST* followed by 1 minute of WORK – Mountain climbers: 1 minute of ACTIVE REST followed by 1 minute of WORK – Squat Jumps: 1 minute REST – 1 minute WORK – Running in place for 1 minute: 1 minute ACTIVE REST – 1 minute WORK – 1 Minute Jump Rope ACTIVE REST – 1 Minute * You can jog in place or do simple jumping jacks.
Cycling Workout for 10 Minutes
WORK – EXTREMELY INTENSIVE Cycling: 1 MINUTE ACTIVE REST – 1 MINUTE LIGHT CYCLING – 1 MINUTE REST – 1 MINUTE REST – 1 MINUTE REST
As previously said, if you only want to improve your cardiovascular fitness, do one round of this. If you want to burn extra calories, take a small pause after one round if necessary. Then, for a total of 20 minutes, repeat for another round. Just don’t forget to complete a proper warm-up and cool-down.
The frequency with which you perform these HIIT workouts will be determined by your goals. In general, I’d recommend 1-3 times each week. This is due to the fact that they are extremely severe and will necessitate proper recovery.
Overall, I hope you were able to see what a true HIIT workout comprises. And how to design one based on your requirements. But bear in mind that when it comes to physical transformation, HIIT is just one tool in the arsenal, and it has its place. However, knowing how to appropriately mix steady-state cardio, weight training sessions, and nutrition into your entire strategy is essential for rapidly altering your body.
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