WTF is HIIT?
If you’ve ever been to a gym or even browsed at classes your local fitness studio is offering, you might have seen those four dreaded letters ‘HIIT’ before. Maybe that also peaked your interest – why are those classes shorter than others? Why do the people leaving those classes look like they’re dying even though it’s only 20-30 minutes in duration?
HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training
Basically, HIIT is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of doing steady state exercises for longer periods of time, you do super intense exercises in quick bursts – sometimes as short as 45 seconds, and then rest for a shorter period of time. In essence, you train in intervals, whether that’s counted by reps or by a timer.
According to HIIT’s proponents, the whole point of doing these exercises in such short and intense bursts is that it burns more fat than cardio.
An even cooler benefit is that you don’t have to spend as much time at the gym. HIIT workouts can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes… and no, you don’t have to go pace yourself on the elliptical for an hour after that. Not exactly your typical ‘take your time’ yoga routine…
Of course… that means it’s harder than just going to the gym to walk or run on the treadmill
Yeah… I’m here with you cardio junkies. The drawback of HIIT training is that you’re going at 70-90% of your ability. There’s no way you can chat with your friend on the treadmill for 30 minutes because you’ll be dying to even breathe, let alone speak. Maybe that’s not a drawback for you! Speaking from my own personal experience, I love HIIT training! Not only is it super fast and effective, but the majority of the time – you can do it without any equipment. It’s also the perfect kind of fast routine that I can do with yoga to get both sides of the fitness coin. In short, yoga activates slow-twitch muscle fibers, while HIIT activates fast-twitch muscle fibers, creating the perfect package.
So, if you’re ticking off great things about HIIT:
✔ Can be done at home.
✔ Shorter workout time periods.
✔ Your metabolism will thank you for it. It’s been said that HIIT can rev your metabolism for up to 36 hours after your workout.
Should I try HIIT?
Like most exercises, it honestly depends on what you’re looking for in a workout. I really like HIIT because I love the way it challenges me and always gets me out of a rut. My body is constantly guessing what will happen next, and it challenges different muscles than I usually activate in yoga. You can’t just give half of your effort because the whole point is that you’re going at it 100%. It can be a really great way to switch up your workouts if you’re a bit bored with your current routine and it’s a way to get both cardio and strength training in one short session.
Lucky you! Here’s one simple HIIT routine!
Complete four sets following an interval of 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off.
Note: For HIIT newbies, or for any veteran who wants to switch things up a bit, there are various styles of HIIT which have different interval times. For example, in Tabata the interval is 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, over a period of eight rounds. Also, if 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off is simply too intense, you can build endurance by doing 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off, etc.
When you’re finished dying and swearing at me for making such a horrid routine, just give the endorphins a second to kick in… and then ask yourself – how did you like it?