High Intensity Interval Training is one of the best methods for losing weight and improving your fitness level in a short period of time. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy though. You have to bring it!
HIIT is defined as a period of all-out intense exercise followed by a short period of recovery. You can do HIIT training on the treadmill, incorporate it into your strength training workout, or perform calisthenics exercises. There are no “set rules” when incorporating HIIT into your workouts. Depending on the type of interval training you are doing, and your fitness level, you can incorporate HIIT into your workouts every day or once per week. I like to switch it up, so I do some type of interval training during each workout.
For instance, during a strength training workout, I like to perform tabata intervals (20 seconds of all out intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest) between each set with a jump rope or jumping jacks. Other days I will do a 20-minute interval workout on the treadmill where I alternate between running and walking. Then there are the days where I do a 14 minute HIIT workout with 50 seconds of all out intensity on a variety of exercises followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Interval training is very versatile, and very effective. Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Warm-up properly:
Never go into any workout cold unless you want to get injured. I am a fan of dynamic warm-ups, which are a series of movements, including exercises such as jumping jacks or inchworms that you perform for 5-10 minutes before starting an activity. These movements will get your heart rate up and prepare your body for work.
2. Use a timer with sound:
Depending on the type of HIIT training I am doing, I like to set my intervals for either 50 seconds of activity and 20 seconds of rest; or I will incorporate Tabata intervals, which are 20 seconds of all-out intensity with 10 seconds of rest. Either way a timer that chimes, such as the Gymboss, helps keep me in check to make sure I am staying on track and working to my full potential, without having to constantly look down at a watch. If you have an iPhone or and iPad there are free or inexpensive interval timer apps you can use.
3. “Bring” the intensity:
It’s called “high intensity interval training” for a reason! During active periods make sure you are working as hard as you can while maintaining proper form. Remember, you are stronger than you think! The rest intervals are to help power up for your next set. Tap into that potential-and-bring it!
4. Power up!
Adding a little resistance to an exercise can go a long way. Anyone can jump on an elliptical and go as fast as they can on level 1, but is that going to give you the best results? Challenge yourself, go hard and heavy as opposed to light and fast, but again, be mindful of your form! If you can only do a few repetitions, it’s better to do them the correct way as opposed to going for more repetitions with sloppy form and putting yourself at risk for injuries.
5. Fuel! Fuel! Fuel!
In order to get the most out of your workout you need the energy to burn. Especially if you are about to participate in such intense exercise such as HIIT training. There are many arguments on what to eat before a sweat session, but I feel that you need a certain amount of glucose in your blood to utilize during your workout; this will help you to avoid tapping into muscle for energy, which is bad. For high intensity, quick workouts, I suggest eating something that is easily digested 20-30 minutes before you train. Brendan Brazier, vegan triathlete, suggests eating dates filled with coconut oil before short bouts of intense exercise. For me, a smoothie with a banana (which is great for preventing muscle cramping), berries, dates, hemp seeds and a little coconut oil usually get me through my HIIT workouts! If you are working out for a longer period of time, you will need to re-fuel.
About Guest Blogger Laury Raiken:
Laury Raiken, CPT, CFNS, writes for the healthy living blog The Fitness Dish. Laury loves sharing her fitness tips, workouts and healthy recipes with her readers. She has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years and has owned her own personal training business since 2004. In May 2011, Laury became a mom for the first time to a beautiful baby girl.