Why is high intensity interval training (HIIT) all the rage?
Essentially, HIIT condenses a long tedious (for most) cardio session into a short, heart pumping workout. Approaching cardio this way not only saves you time but causes your body to continue burning more calories for a considerable time afterwards. Cool, eh?
Is HIIT only for athletes?
No. The level of intensity is relative to you as an individual.
The Tabata approach to HIIT is a well established example of how this works. Tabata involves 4 minute blocks of exercise, broken down into eight 20 second high intensity periods followed by 10 seconds of rest. Beginners may wish to start a little easier, for example, 20 seconds high intensity and 20 seconds rest.
During the 20 seconds, you need to work as hard as you possibly can. A Tabata workout can contain 1 - 8 different exercises. Either performed once or repeated if less than eight. Usually two exercises works well as it provides enough variety without being too taxing to remember what is next.
Top 5 Reasons for HIIT
1. Fat Loss
HIIT is possibly the quickest way to burn fat. Causing your body to continue burning fat way after you finish your workout.
2. Save time
I know very few people who wouldn't opt for 4 minutes of cardio over 30 minutes. HIIT is a far more effective way to achieve and exceed the same results. Plus a little variety can also good for you.
3. Shed fat not muscle
Whilst long periods of steady state cardio have been shown to encourage loss of muscle, HIIT training appears to target excess fat and preserve muscle.
4. Do it anywhere
HIIT training is so simple to setup, you can literally take it anywhere with you. A field, the gym, at home, the beach. Just select your exercises and apply a short work interval, with an equal or shorter rest period.
You may wish to start with work to rest ratio being even and gradually decrease the rest time as you get fitter. Most intervals are between 20 seconds and 1 minute, to keep them short and intense.
5. Break through plateaus
This style of training is a really great way to break through plateaus. If you're comfortable running a distance such as 3km or 5km, try recording your time. Then, add in some sprinting HIIT sessions in between your runs and see if your time increases.