With all of the hype around High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), we bet you’ve heard of it (if not made it part of your exercise regimen). If you’re in the dark, here’s the gist: It’s a fantastic way to burn calories, build lean muscles and get/stay fit, all while spending less time working out.
HIIT workouts use bouts of high-intensity exercise alternated with short periods of rest, maximizing calorie burn and cardiovascular fitness. The best part is that you can customize HIIT workouts to match your fitness and ability level!
Knocking out your strength and cardio workouts at the same time is one reason this method is so popular. Most gyms and training studios offer this workout in one form or another in their class line-ups. It’s super simple to do at home, too! There are tons of fitness apps, YouTube videos, and online training programs offering streaming interval classes.
Below, we will provide you with some tips for beginners, followed by tips to amp up your game (if this is already part of your routine):
Tips for Beginners
It’s helpful to have some core knowledge about how to get started with interval training. Consider these tips when including it into your overall fitness routine:
1. Start Slowly
As HIIT workouts are designed for more intense training, it is critical to pace yourself to avoid missing workouts due to soreness from overtraining. One way to ease yourself into these workouts is to vary the intensity (your speed and/or the amount of weight you lift). Also, try diversifying your work and rest periods, total workout duration, and the number of exercises you complete. Set your own pace and progress when you’re ready!
2. Determine the Right Schedule for You
At the beginning, you may want to aim for 15-minutes sessions, 1-2 days each week. Then slowly increase the total time of your workout to 30 minutes. For more of a challenge, add one more day of HIIT to your overall fitness plan.
3. Focus on Full-Body Movements
Try to focus on exercises that work your entire body at your current fitness level (or slightly above it). These exercises include: squat and press, push-ups, and mountain climbers.
4. Be Mindful of Sore Muscles
When you first begin a HIIT regimen, you may experience delayed onset muscle soreness on your third or fourth day of training. It is recommended that you continue doing small, short workouts for the next two or three days to get over that hump.
5. Pay Attention to Signs of Overtraining
HIIT workouts put a large amount of stress on your muscles, cardiovascular system, and immune system. Performing too many HIIT workouts each week can quickly lead to overtraining. Be aware of these common red flags to overtraining: decreased performance, excessive fatigue, restlessness, moodiness, and an increase in exercise-related injuries. If you experience any of these, reduce the amount of exercise you are doing or rest completely.
6. Fuel Your Body
Ensuring your body is properly fueled before a workout is essential, especially for a beginner. To maximize your energy, aim to eat a light meal 1-2 hours pre-exercise. This meal should consist of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Add a post-workout snack or meal within an hour of completing your exercise session. A protein shake and a small serving of fruit is ideal.
Tips to Amp Up Your Game
A typical HIIT session should last anywhere between four and fifteen minutes. Cap your HIIT sessions at 30 minutes to avoid injury. Instead of a non-stop workout for those 30 minutes, break it up into three workouts of 5-7 minutes, with brief recovery periods. With any HIIT session, a good rule of thumb is that you should not be able to talk and workout simultaneously. Here are some tips to amplify your HIIT training sessions:
1. HIIT Rowing Workout
A basic HIIT rowing workout consists of four rounds of 250 meters of rowing. The workout to rest ratio is 1:2, with a total time of 12 minutes. For a more intense rowing session, try eight rounds of 250 meters, with a work to rest ratio of 1:1 (resting for approximately one minute). This workout should take 16 minutes. For more HIIT rowing workout ideas, check out this article from The Daily Burn.
2. HIIT Strength Training
A critical factor to any strength conditioning is building and maintaining muscle. Integrating HIIT with strength training is an efficient way to maximize lean body mass while maintaining your strength. Try a strength training workout consisting of 1-2 exercises and 5-6 sets of each.
3. Bring in the machines!
If you have access to fitness equipment at home or in the gym, try out some more of these ideas from The Daily Burn:
- HIIT / Treadmill workouts
- HIIT / Elliptical workouts
- HIIT / Air Bike workout
- HIIT / Medicine Ball workouts
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran of High-Intensity Interval Training, always be aware of signs of fatigue and overtraining in order to avoid injury. Fuel your body before and after your workout sessions, and don’t forget to breathe!
We would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite HIIT routines?
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