HIIT – What You Need to Know and Why You Need It

16 Jul

HIIT simply stand for High Intensity Interval Training and it’s become a hot topic over the last few years. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably interested in learning more about it and gaining some insight on whether or not it’s right for you. Without going any further, I’ll tell you yes, yes it is right for you.

HIIT burns more fat, maintains and even builds more muscle than its LISS (low intensity steady state) counterpart. Again, look at a sprinter (HIIT) and then take a look at a distance runner (LISS) and you’ll have your visual.

HIIT is typically associated with sprint training, but this incredibly effective technique can be applied to any number of modalities. The basic principle of HIIT is a period of very intense aerobic training followed by a period of less intense aerobic training or non-activity. These bursts are typically no longer than 1 minute per interval, but can be tailored to fit different programs and fitness levels.

Let’s use a sprint HIIT workout on a treadmill as an example. Start the workout with 5 minutes of moderate incline walking – this could be a 3.5 speed at a 3% grade (hint: use the incline to get your muscles warmer quicker as we learned here.) At the beginning of the 6th minute, lower the incline to a 1% grade and increase the speed to a 6.0 jog and maintain for 1 minute. The fun begins at the beginning of the 7th minute as you’ll crank the speed up to a 9.0 and maintain for 1 minute. At the beginning of the 8th minute, drop it back down to the 6.0 speed, catch your breath and repeat until you’ve hit the 20 minute mark. At the end of 20 minutes, finish with a 5 minute 2.5 speed cool down, stretch and get outta there!

“But John, there’s no way I can run that fast without a break.” That’s perfectly fine, just adjust the speeds to what your current fitness levels are and build over time. If the above example is too easy for you, boost the speed or throw in more incline (my preference) and knock it out. If the intervals are too long for you, again, adjust as you feel necessary and change the ratios. You can sprint for a minute and rest for 2 minutes or you can sprint for 1 minute and rest for 30 seconds to make it even more intense. There are limitless ways to change up the variables. As long as you have the principles down it will work for you.

The truly beautiful thing about HIIT is that you really only need 20 minutes, sometimes even less depending on the intensity of the workouts. This new tool in your arsenal works well at ANY fitness level. If you can’t run, it works. If you’re a world-class sprinter, it works. What’s more is that you can apply this method to swimming, biking/cycling, plyometrics, jumping rope, even weight training.

We’ll be posting more examples of different HIIT workouts as we go, but my immediate prescription for you is to start implementing some form of HIIT into your routine as soon as possible. I recommend 2-3x a week, preferably on non-weight training days. If you’re throwing it in on training days, always do so after your weight training session. I’m looking forward to hearing how you’ve woven this tactic into your routines. Enjoy!

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3 Responses to “HIIT – What You Need to Know and Why You Need It”

  1. Nicole September 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Replacing the elliptical with HIIT decreased my body fat by 3% in two weeks already!! Love all this motivating info 🙂 thanks!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cardio or Weights: Which to Do First? « thecutmethod - October 22, 2012

    […] discussed the importance of quick, to-the-point cardio bouts in the article on HIIT so we already know that sprint-like cardio burns more fat than its Steady State counterpart. Even […]

  2. Cardio or Weights: Which to Do First? | The CUT Method - November 18, 2012

    […] discussed the importance of quick, to-the-point cardio bouts in the article on HIIT so we already know that sprint-like cardio burns more fat than its Steady State counterpart. Even […]

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