What Is HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)?

HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. Interestingly, it has been described as one of the most time-efficient ways to exercise.

Typically, a HIIT workout will range from 10 to 30 minutes in duration. It will usually be a period of high intensity work followed by a lower intensity activity, or rest.

The actual activity being performed varies but can include squats, running, burpees, pushups, lunges and other body weight exercises. Anything really!

What does a HIIT workout look like?

As an example, a HIIT workout using a body weight exercise could look something like:

30 seconds running on the spot as fast as possible, followed by 20 lunges, 10 squat jumps and 5 crunches.

That’s not it! This would be seen as one “round”, and you would typically complete 4 to 6 repetitions in one workout.

The amount of time you are exercising for and recover for will vary based on the activity you choose, your fitness level and what level intensity you are training at.

Remember HIIT workouts can be tough! So start out with some easier intensity ones and build up slowly.

Types of HIIT workout:

For the intervals there are many diferent ways to organise your workout. You can use repetitions, or use time, or set a total workout time and do as many rounds as you can.

Examples:

Repetitions for example would be 10 push ups, 10 squats, run 100m, 10 sit ups. x 4 rounds.

Based on time it might look like: 30s plank, 1min jumping jacks, 30s pushups, 1min calf raises. x 4 rounds

Set time and many rounds might be something like this: ‘for a total time of 20 mins do as many rounds as you can’. 20 squats, 10 crunches/ situps, 5 pushups, 5 burpees. 20 jumping jacks.

HIIT has even been voted as one of the top fitness trends by fitness professionals for 2020, so there you have it! It’s of great benefit which is why we include it in our 5 week fitness programme (scheduled for march 2020).

This is proven by all the HIIT gyms and classes you are seeing around HK now such as HIIT 45, Top Fit HK, Coastal Performance, Flex Studio…almost every gym now offers it as an option.

(photos from the Women’s Five 5 week fitness programme)

But why HIIT? What are the benefits?

One of the main benefits of interval training has to do with heart health. Intervals can boost cardio-respiratory health with a smaller time investment compared to continuous forms of exercise. This here isn’t focusing on super fat burning or bigger muscles, but improved VO2 max, a measure of endurance that calculates the maximum volume of oxygen the body can use.

Scientists have found that [VO2 max] is one of the best predictors of overall health. The more aerobically fit you are, the better your heart can pump blood, the longer it takes you to get out of breath, and the farther and faster you’re able to bike or run or swim.

There is a study linked here – where 2 groups were studied for 12 weeks.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075

One group worked out for 10 minutes (including several intervals that added up to one minute), and the other for 50 minutes (at a continuous pace). The results?

the two groups of exercisers saw the same improvement in their oxygen uptake, despite their varying time commitments.

So remember it’s not about going out and training for hours! Train smart not hard!

We have included some of our fav small daily workouts below.