While it has been gaining popularity in recent years, many fitness professional and high-level athletes have long known about the benefits of H.I.I.T. High Intensity Interval Training or H.I.I.T is a type of cardiovascular exercise that alternates short periods of intense activity with longer periods of less intense activity.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF H.I.I.T?
While both types of training are beneficial to people trying to improve their health and fitness, H.I.I.T has several benefits over traditional steady-state cardiovascular exercise including:
1) Decreased Exercise Duration
2) Increased Metabolism for Longer Post-Exercise Periods
3) Improved Anaerobic Endurance
4) Improved Energy
5) Improved Muscle Tone
HOW TO INCORPORATE A H.I.I.T WORKOUT
It is important to note that if you are new to exercise, you should build an appropriate base before attempting a H.I.I.T workout. This means if you are just beginning, you should stick with steady-state cardiovascular activity for 3-4 weeks before integrating your first H.I.I.T workout.
When beginning a H.I.I.T program, the best course is to start slow and allow yourself to work your way up. H.I.I.T is versatile and can be performed on any piece of cardio equipment in the gym including: treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals. You can also perform H.I.I.T while running outside. For a beginner I advise a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of low intensity to high-intensity activity. This means that if your high intensity activity time is 15 seconds, your low intensity time should be 30-45 seconds. One last thing to note is that H.I.I.T is too intense to perform every day. I advise beginners to start with 1-2 sessions per week eventually increasing to 3 per week.
Below is a sample H.I.I.T workout on the elliptical. I find that the elliptical is a superior machine to use for H.I.I.T because many people are limited in their running ability.
1) Warm up at level 1-2 for 3 minutes at an easy to moderate pace.
2) At the end of the three-minute warm up, increase the intensity to level 4-6. I allow quite a bit of wiggle room in intensity level for people to find what they can tolerate. Go at a maximum pace for 15 seconds. At the end of this cycle it should feel like you couldn’t go for more than a few more seconds. If it doesn’t feel this way, that is a sign that you can increase your pace or intensity.
3) Bring the elliptical back down to level 2-3 and go at a moderate pace for 30-45 seconds.
4) Repeat this cycle for a total of 6-8 minutes (about 6-8 cycles). Once you are able to handle this workload, you can add a cycle or two per week until you can complete 15-20 minutes of overall time.
5) Finish with a 3-minute cool down at level 1-2 at an easy pace.
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