High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is one of the newest techniques of cardio to hit the gym floors. If you’re looking forward to a complete weight loss without burning through muscle mass, in the shortest possible time, HIIT is the answer. It is on the fast track to becoming the standard for steady and sustained fat loss.

What is HIIT?

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of cardio training in which you interchange short, very high intensity intervals with longer, slower intervals to recover. HIIT is an extremely effective training technique used to decrease body fat, increase speed and increase your VO2Max (maximum amount of oxygen you can uptake during exercise) in the shortest span of time. Athletes use it to increase both their aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

A usual HIIT session lasts about 15 to 20 minutes and involves a 2:1 ratio for recovery to work periods. This means that your recovery intervals are twice as long as the work intervals.

What are the Benefits of HIIT?

HIIT training will give you the following benefits:

  • It increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR) – measurement of how many calories your body burns while you are resting – for the next 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means that you consume more oxygen recovering from the high-intensity interval exercise than you would have if you’d just done a steady-state workout. This also means that your body burns more fat during a HIIT session and will continue burning at this high rate for up to 24 hours afterwards.
  • It can significantly improve your endurance and stamina. HIIT has the ability to increase your maximal oxygen consumption (VO2Max) more effectively than doing only traditional, long aerobic workouts. This means you can perform all sorts of physical activities for a longer span of time.
  • It has also been shown to improve athletic performance in already well-trained athletes. A recent study showed an 8.2 second improvement in 2000m rowing time following 4 weeks of HIIT in well-trained rowers.
  • According to one study, 2.5 hours of HIIT training produced similar benefits that are found after 10.5 hours of long distance training.
  • It shortens exercise routines by at least 33 percent.
  • It also brings excitement to your workout which breaks the monotony of a typical cardio workout. You are constantly pushing and challenging yourself throughout the workout to make it through the various intervals.
  • Recent study done in 2008 shows that 2 weeks of HIIT can substantially improve insulin action in young healthy men, thus helping to prevent type-2 diabetes.

HIIT vs. Regular Cardio?

Conventional cardio consists of thirty to forty-five minutes of even-paced activity. This monotonous and non-creative time takes its toll on almost everyone. There comes a point where the body becomes used to these exercises and you hit the wall. Short blasts of high intensity cardio snaps the body out of the adaptive “steady state” and puts it into an ultra fat burning mode.

Can HIIT improve my Athletic Performance? 

HIIT aids to raise the anaerobic threshold (a.k.a the point at which the muscles weaken due to the buildup of lactic acid). Increasing the anaerobic threshold is extremely important to players of football, soccer, hockey and other sports that require short bursts of intense activity.

How does a Typical HIIT program looks like?

A typical HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by 6 to 10 interval cycles (high intensity exercise coupled with adequate recovery periods) and ending with a period of cool down exercise. The number of repetitions and length of each depends on the exercise. The goal is to do at least six cycles, and to have the entire HIIT session last at least 15 minutes and not more than 20. Depending on yout current level of fitness, you can walk or do a light jog during the recovery period. Here are two typical HIIT program:

  • Warm up for 5 minutes. For 15 to 30 seconds, give your maximum effort followed by a 2 minute recovery period. Perform 6 to 10 of these intervals and finish with a cooldown.
  • Warm up for 5 minutes. For 45 to 90 seconds, sprint at 80 percent of your maximum intensity followed by 1 to 2 minutes of recovery period. Perform 5 to 8 of these intervals and finish with a cooldown.


  • All exercises should be done only after a proper warm up.
  • You can choose any aerobic exercise that you partake in.
  • The entire session should wrap up with a proper stretching and a cool down session.

Tips to remember:

  • HIIT workout shouldn’t be done on successive days as the recovery time is more. They should only be done 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Make sure you have had something to eat about half an hour before you exercise. Also, make sure to take in a post-workout drink to help replenish lost glycogen and repair the muscle tissues.
  • Many people report feeling or even being sick the first time, so don’t worry if it happens to you.
  • The training session should not go for longer than 25 minute.

Take the high road, feel the action, don’t let yourself plateau, HIIT now!

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High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

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