As a nation, Americans are over-extending themselves in all areas of their lives. As a result, fitness (and the resulting health benefits) takes a hit because it is hard to find the time to fit a workout into busy days. Turns out you don’t need very much time in order to reap the benefits of a workout.
High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) is a workout in which short periods of intense exercise are interspersed with low intensity rest periods (also known as active recovery). HIIT workouts typically last less than 30 minutes. Aside from the time saving benefit of the workout, the high intensity intervals, in which your heart rate is elevated to 80-95% of your maximum heart rate, result in a higher calorie burn than a steady-state, lower intensity workout. In addition, the HIIT workouts lead to an after burn, meaning even after the workout had ended, you continue to burn calories (good news if you are trying to lose weight or increase your metabolism). This after burn is the body working to restore its pre-exercise condition and often lasts for a few hours and leads to an increase calorie burn of 6-15%.
While there are many different variations of a HIIT workout, a typical one would include a 1:1 ratio of high intensity to recovery intervals. For example, 2 mins of hard exercise at greater than 80% of your maximum heart rate followed by 2 mins of exercise at a moderate intensity (50% of maximum heart rate). This can be repeated 2-5 times.
Another bonus to HIIT workouts is that the exact type of exercise can differ for each interval, making the workout different every time and preventing you from getting bored with it. Not a runner? Do mountain climbers instead. Any exercise that gets your heart rate up will work.
If you are new to HIIT workouts, try adding one HIIT workout to your week, gradually working up to more. Because of the intensity, more recovery time is needed, so avoid back to back days.
Mile High Fitness has personal trainers who would be happy to help introduce you to HIIT workouts and teach you how to incorporate these short but effective workouts into your fitness plan.