HIIT Training – Why You Need It

HIIT training is gaining in popularity among those who desire to burn fat quickly and do it in an efficient manner. High Intensity Interval Training is an enhanced from of interval training in which you alternate between short intense movements that raise your heart rate to about 80%-90% of your max combined with less intense-recovery periods for 5-30 minutes depending on your goals and current state.

Why Should You Use HIIT Training Over Traditionally Cardio?

If you were to walk into a gym today and take a picture of everybody in the cardio area on the treadmill, elliptical, bike etc they would most likely be jogging or going at some moderate rate over an extended period of time which depending on your cardiovascular level could be considered HIIT training. Although the treadmill may say you burned X amount of calories as soon as you step off that treadmill your body stops burning calories.  HIIT training requires less time and will burn calories for hours after you are done and here is why:

  • HIIT trains and conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. You train your anaerobic system with brief, all-out efforts, like when you have to push to make it up a hill, sprint the last few hundred yards of a distance race, or run and hide from your spouse after saying the wrong thing.
  • HIIT increases the amount of calories you burn during your exercise session and afterward because it increases the length of time it takes your body to recover from each exercise session.
  • HIIT causes metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This will improve your athletic endurance as well as your fat-burning potential.
  • HIIT appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, in comparison to traditional steady-state cardio exercise of longer duration.
  • To get the benefits HIIT, you need to push yourself past the upper end of your aerobic zone and allow your body to replenish your anaerobic energy system during the recovery intervals. (Source Dean Anderson)

after burn effect

How To Do It

You can calculate your max heart rate by using the following simple formula (220-age=MAX heart rate) from there you can calculate where you need to be in order to stay in the 80-90% range of your max heart rate which is what I do in order to stay in the fat burning zone.  An example session of HIIT training would be the following:

–          5 minute warm-up at 50-60% of max heart rate.

–          Short intervals of sprinting with max effort which raises your heart rate to around 90% of its max.

–          The less intense intervals can be as short or as long as need be based off your current level of fitness.  The key is rest enough so   your body can recover in order to give a max effort for the next interval.  These less intense periods can range from 2-4 minutes.

–          You can repeat this cycle of short intense intervals followed by rest periods for 5-30 minutes depending on your level of fitness and your desired goal.

–          As you get further into your HIIT session you will need longer rest periods in order to recover as your body gets tired

–          Always end each session with a 5 minute cool down period to bring your heart rate back down

–         Here is a great example of a HIIT routine

General Guidelines

–          I personally do not recommend doing HIIT sessions on consecutive days as your body needs time to rest and recover

–          *HIIT training is physically demanding but can be modified to your level of fitness*

–          HIIT training is perfect for those who are looking to burn fat, boost their cardiovascular fitness, and maintain muscle mass