HIIT has been the workout of the moment for a good few years now. Made famous by the likes of internet personalities like The Body Coach Joe Wickes, these workouts promise low time commitment with fast results. But what are they, and how do they work?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and aims to increase the heart rate into a cardio zone, repeatedly, with short rests in between. The exercises are done for a short length of time, may 40-60 seconds, but you have to work at 100%. These intense bursts of exercise are followed by short periods of rest – sometimes just to catch your breath, sometimes by performing a low intensity exercise until your heart rate drops back down to resting.
By working this way, your body’s demand for oxygen skyrockets. This is what creates the after-burn that has made this type of workout so popular. By depriving the body during workout, your tissues will continue to ask for more oxygen during recovery – some sources reckon for almost 24 hours afterwards. This increases your metabolism, and in theory means you’ll continue burning calories long after your workout is over.
HIIT workouts are also quick and convenient to do at home. Most only last 20-30 minutes, and comprise mostly of body weight exercises that require only a few pieces of small equipment. Kettlebells, dumbbells and skipping ropes are popular implements for HIIT workouts – but many don’t even use that, just a solid piece of floor is required, unless you want to make everything rattle in your living room!
A great way to work a HIIT workout for yourself is to alternate heart-rate raising moves with body-weight strength training. For example, break up sit ups and push ups with a round of burpees or mountain climbers – this way you’ll not fatigue too quickly, and appreciate the 20 seconds of rest between each round.
Take a deep breath and give it a go!