High Intensity Interval Training- The Other Aerobic Workout

HIIT Training
HIIT Training

Not many people are familiar with the HIIT system of training (High Intensity Interval Training). Often time when I speak to people in the gym, I will hear them rave about their half marathon run (something that personally I couldn’t do because I find it too mundane), or the conventional 3 mile run on the treadmill. But, rarely do I hear people talk about their 10 minutes HIIT sprints session, or their 15 minutes HIIT stair climb session. Why? The first reason would be because it is too hard to complete, which is not a good excuse. The second reason would be because most people are not even familiar with the HIIT program.

What is HIIT:

A HIIT session consists of a warm up period of exercise, followed by six to ten repetitions of high intensity exercise, separated by medium intensity exercise, and ending with a period of cool down exercise. The high intensity exercise should be done at near maximum intensity. The medium exercise should be about 50% intensity. 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 fifteen minutes and not more than twenty.

Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 9–20 minutes. The original protocol set a 2:1 ratio for work to recovery periods. For example, a runner would alternate 15-20 seconds of hard sprinting with 10 seconds of jogging or walking.

HIIT is considered to be an excellent way to maximize a workout that is limited on time

A few facts about the HIIT program:

  • HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) for the following 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and may improve maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) more effectively than doing only traditional, long aerobic workouts.
  • Long aerobic workouts have been promoted as the best method to reduce fat, as fatty acid utilization usually occurs after at least 30 minutes of training. HIIT is somewhat counterintuitive in this regard, but has nonetheless been shown to burn fat more effectively. There may be a number of factors that contribute to this, including an increase in RMR, and possibly other physiological effects.
  • It has been shown that two weeks of HIIT can substantially improve insulin action in young healthy men. HIIT may therefore represent a viable method for prevention of type-2 diabetes.

The beauty about the HIIT aerobic system is that you do not need a gym to complete the program. Also, you are not limited to sprints either.

These are a few examples of how to utilize the HIIT outside your gym:

  • Climb up the stairs in your building as fast as you can for 60 seconds, and rest while stepping down (do not take your time, 30-45 seconds only) to the starting point. Repeat for 15 minutes.
  • Jump rope for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 10-12 minutes (you will build your cardiovascular endurance to up to 20 minutes in time).
  • Find the nearest stadium, climb the stairs as fast as you can, step down slowly to the starting point and repeat for 15-20 minutes.

I can go on and on with examples, but you get the idea. The HIIT program is very short aerobic session with comparison to the other conventional long run (or elliptical, or bike, etc) aerobic methods, but make no mistakes, it will leave you out of breath!

Check out this short video to see the HIIT program in action:

facebook comments:

  • Marilyn Ham

    Liked the video, but couldn’t hear the commentary over the music… :-(

  • Having done programs like this for cycling, HITT will undoubtedly help the person to get stronger, and faster by s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g your cardio system. I’m no expert, for sure, though what I’d add from my experience are two things;
    1) start slowly – for cycling I would ride about 100 miles a week at a moderate pace for 3 -4 weeks, then take on some hills with a bit of vigor, and finally after about 4 – 6 weeks my body knows I mean business. And, don’t be fooled about HITT, because done to the extent I’ve read about by elite athletes, it’ll leave you heaving!
    2) “invest” in a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and if you have any doubts about your physical condition or heart, go and get a checkup… seriously. HITT, if done right, will stress your cardio system, so it’s a real good idea the you understand what your engine (heart) is doing. Also not a bad idea is to read the instruction manual, and even do a little research on the topic of intervals and HRMs.

    Beyond than, take your time, and if you are in a rush I’d strongly recommend getting a coach that have a background in interval training, not just sports, because your heart is on the line. Otherwise, give your body enough time to get into the groove. Once it’s there, you’ll know, and then start the HITT program in a graduated fashion.

    HITT will work beyond your wildest dreams if that’s where you want to go, so it’s a good idea to understand what it takes (suffering) to get to the destination.

    Oh, BYOBB.

  • Thank you Gary for your insights!

  • Marilyn,

    I do not think he talks much…doing so will mean that he did not work hard enough :-) :-)