HIIT still sits atop the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018. HIIT entered the workout scene nearly a decade ago and broke into the ACSM Survey back in 2014, and it hasn’t looked back. HIIT has owned a top 3 spot every year since. Chances are, if you workout or even just read about working out, you’ve seen the acronym.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and HIIT workouts can be done just about anywhere and at any time. HIIT training isn’t necessarily about the type of exercise, the equipment you use or the workout location. The name gives away the secret to its success … it’s all about achieving HIGH intensity, but not for extended periods of time.
HIIT now comes in a variety of shapes and sizes: strength, cardio, hybrid, equipment, non-equipment and beyond. Problem is, due to its popularity, it can be hard to distinguish the good from the bad. So, here’s the real skinny on how to HIIT and HIIT it right!
HIIT consists of intense bouts of effort with varying amounts of rest. And, you don’t have to endure long workouts to receive the rewards. But, you must go hard in the amount of time you do have available! HIIT torches tons of calories and enhances your aerobic capacity (translation: your heart and lungs learn to work more efficiently). HIIT workouts are perfect for the busy exerciser that knows they need it but can’t find the time. As long as you’re willing to push your limits, HIIT can work for you.
Here are the rules:
Reduce the volume – In plain English, this means shorter intervals, shorter workouts and fewer times per week. The best recipe for getting what you need from your HIIT workouts includes HIIT workouts of 30 minutes or less (work time), pushes between 10-120 seconds with varying amounts of rest, and no more than 3-4 workouts per week. You should supplement with other types of workouts and cross-train. While HIIT is excellent, it’s not the only type of training your body needs.
Push your limits – EFFORT is the name of the game. And, effort doesn’t have to equal hurt … you’re looking for overload in your heart and lungs which can come from many things, not just jumping! Find exercises or drills that leave you gasping for air, not rubbing your knees, for best results. Activities can be simple (jogging in place or around the block, jumping jacks, or burpees are a fave), but you must be able to manipulate the work and the rest easily.
Commit to the recovery – for HIIT to work, you must recover in between the pushes during the workout, as well as in between the workouts themselves. Instead of trying to sustain high intensity for an entire 30 minutes, a HIIT workout requires you to push for short periods of time and then try to recover entirely before going again. The magic is in the high part of the workout; how hard can you go, not how long can you go. You’ll also need to plug in proper recovery between workouts (at least 36 hrs) for optimal effect.
While HIIT is fantastic and can undoubtedly help you break through mental and physical plateaus, you should avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater just because the media gods have taken a message and run with it. HIIT is HOT, HIIT is great, HIIT is FUN … do it. But, always remember that HIIT is best when it peacefully coexists with all of the other great workouts you know and love. There is no magic bullet when it comes to health and wellness!