The Advantages of a HIIT Routine
For many of us, the idea of doing long, boring cardio sessions is a daunting thought. Luckily, there is an alternative. It’s called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short. It’s a kind of training that will give you a body like those you see above. It involves alternating between periods of low or moderate intensity and periods of extremely high intensity, and you can do it in a fraction of the time of a normal cardio workout. The problem with HIIT is that many people don’t really know where to start. In this post I’m going to share with you what is, in my opinion, the best HIIT routine.
On top of losing fat, HIIT routines have a whole slew of things that it does better than regular cardio:
- Increases your V02 max much more than steady-state cardio. This means it increases the amount of oxygen your body can take in during exercise. Translation? You’ll be in better shape when you go play ball with the guys.
- Doesn’t cause you to lose precious muscle mass like traditional steady-state cardio does. When you engage in long, slow cardio sessions, your body can enter a catabolic (or muscle wasting) state. This means your body literally starts to consume its own muscle for energy. This won’t happen during a HIIT training routine.
- Combined with a slight increase in calories above your maintenance level, HIIT workouts can actually be anabolic, meaning they’ll help you gain muscle. This is certainly something you can’t get from normal cardio.
Of all the slight variations amongst HIIT routines, the one that works this best is the 30 second/90-120 second split. Let’s break it down for you.
The Best HIIT workout routine:
1. Maximum intensity for 30 seconds.
2. Recovery for 90-120 seconds (only rest as long as you have to).
-Repeat this cycle 6-10 times, depending on your level of fitness. Before your HIIT routine, it’s best to start with a 5 minute warm up at a comfortable intensity. After your HIIT workout, finish with a 5 minute cool-down period before you stop moving completely. Even the longest HIIT workouts can be completed in about half an hour.
As time goes on, you will be able to perform this routine without difficulty. At such time, you need to start introducing changes to keep your body stimulated and to keep progressing. The best way to do this would be to either shorten your rest periods, or increase the length of your maximum intensity periods. For example:
Maximum intensity for 45 seconds.
Recovery for 90-120 seconds.
Maximum intensity for 30 seconds.
Recovery for 60-90 seconds.
Continue with this until again, you find yourself unchallenged. At that point, do the same thing, either shorten your recovery period, or increase your maximum intensity period (or both, if you think you’re hardcore enough). The important thing here is to always progress. If you do the same thing over and over, sooner or later your body will stop being challenged and your fat loss will grind to a screeching halt.
Do I have to run when doing HIIT?
HIIT training routines can be done with any kind of cardio. Whether running outdoors, on a treadmill, on an elliptical, a bike, or a rower, HIIT is a great option.
How often should I do HIIT?
HIIT is very intense. It should be eased into your weekly exercise regime and only performed 3-4 times a week. Due to its high intensity, you should never do it more often than this because you’ll risk overtraining and injury.
Are there any variations of HIIT?
There sure are! In fact, there’s a great little infographic that explains HIIT and the most popular varieties of it. Check it out here.
That’s all there is to it. Get to it!