These days, no matter how you exercise, it’s likely you’ve heard the term HIIT. High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) has tremendous cardiovascular health benefits and can be incorporated into any workout regimen. That is, whether you’re a powerlifter, a marathon runner, or a yogi, you will likely benefit from introducing HIIT into your regular exercise routine.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is more than just interval training. HIIT workouts are defined by their intensity, difficulty, and short duration. In fact, there’s a lot of science behind what HIIT training is and why it’s so good for you.
To properly define HIIT training, let’s start by discussing what it’s not. HIIT training is the logical opposite of going for a long, easy run. When you’re doing low-intensity cardiovascular training (IE 30 minutes on the elliptical, a brisk walk, a gentle swim, etc), you are training not only the muscles you use to perform the exercise but also the muscles in your heart. To sustain your movement, your heart has to pump harder to deliver the oxygen in your bloodstream to your muscles. This is called aerobic training. Along with oxygen, aerobic training relies on carbs, protein, and fats that are stored by your body as energy sources. This is why marathon runners may engage in carb-loading before big races, for instance.
Our muscles, however, have other power sources, too, outside of just oxygen. Glucose, for example, can supply quick and ready-to-use energy to our muscles. When the intensity of exercise outpaces your heart’s ability to pump oxygen to your muscles, it becomes anaerobic training. A key difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is that anaerobic exercise burns the fuel you currently have in your body, while aerobic exercise taps into your fuel stores.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT is so well-loved by physicians and exercise scientists alike because it delivers the cardiovascular benefits of anaerobic training along with the benefits of strength training. Think of it as an “all-in-one” workout.
HIIT is also loved by athletes because it helps improve muscles’ explosiveness and power.
How to perform HIIT
The basic premise of HIIT is that you perform short, but intense bouts of movement. These are called your “work” sets. To perform true HIIT, work sets should push you to exhaustion. In short, it should be an all-out effort that is at the very edge of your anaerobic abilities. Your body should feel totally spent if you’re doing it correctly.
After each work set, you earn a rest set. This can either be a true rest —sitting or lying down— or an active rest set— walking, jogging, or other easy movements. HIIT purists will say that work periods should be so intense that rest sets should be used only for catching one’s breath.
HIIT training can be performed in a number of different ways. It could be a run, where your work sets might be sprints; a bike ride, where work sets are done at high resistance; or a strength workout, where your work sets are the heaviest lift possible. Really how you practice HIIT is up to you. There are hundreds of different ways. Get creative!
The BalanceFrom Full-Body HIIT workout
We created this Full-Body HIIT workout to be quick, efficient, and low equipment. It’s the perfect one-and-done workout for when you’re short on time, traveling, or too impatient to wait in line when gym equipment is occupied.
All you need to perform this workout is our extra comfortable yoga mat, a timer (could be your wristwatch, your phone, or whatever you have handy), and a good attitude. For an added challenge, consider incorporating our 3 in 1 plyometric box.
This HIIT workout will strengthen your entire body, and most importantly, your heart. To access the workout, check out our instagram post here.