HIIT (which stands for high-intensity interval training) is a way of training that combines quick, intense bursts of exercise, with short periods of recovery. Getting your heart rate up to a level you can’t sustain for long allows you to burn more fat in less time, making it an especially effective workout for those with a busy schedule.
What are the key benefits of HIIT?
1. Burn more calories
Studies show you can burn 25-30% more calories during a 30-minute HIIT workout than you would doing weight training, cycling or an endurance treadmill session for the same amount of time.
2. Boost your metabolism
Working out at an intense level means your body uses more oxygen so your metabolism needs to work harder and keep burning energy even after you stop working out.
3. Lose body fat
A study found that people who did three 20-minute HIIT workouts a week lost 2kg of body fat over three months without making any changes to their diet.
4. Improve your overall health
HIIT training works to strengthen your heart and keeping your blood pressure in check as well as reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.
5. It’s quick
HIIT gives you all the benefits in a short space of time, meaning it’s easy to fit into a busy day.
What does a typical HIIT session look like?
HIIT sessions usually last between 20-45 minutes, including a warm up and cool down. That may seem short but it’s because they will push you to your limits.
During the main set, which can last as little as 10 minutes, you alternate between high-intensity exercises that get your heart rate up – this includes burpees or running on the spot as well as periods of recovery.
In order to get results, the high-intensity intervals need to be performed at a full-on effort level. You should be working at a level of 9 out of 10 and struggling to catch your breath.
In a typical HIIT session you should be working hard for 20 to 90 seconds at a time followed by a similarly short period of recovery to get your body prepped to go again. These intervals can be scaled to your current fitness level and build up as you progress.
What equipment is needed?
You can do a HIIT session pretty much anywhere and there’s no need for any equipment. If you’ve only got a small space, like your living room for example, you can include heart-raising body weight exercises that don’t take up much room, such as lunge jumps or high knees. You could even try running up stairs.