For today’s reader’s request, I thought it would be fun to focus on HIIT training, because the thing is, a LOT of people know what it is, but finding a way to incorporate it into your schedule and use it effectively can be the tricky part.

A quick HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) review:

HIIT training consists of short blasts of maximum effort, followed by recovery periods. You can perform HIIT on a variety of cardio equipment at the gym, or through plyometrics at home (such as jumping). HIIT training has been shown to quickly burn fat (shrink fat cells) more quickly than low-intensity cardio and increases aerobic and anaerobic endurance.


Anaerobic Energy System

Anaerobic literally means "Without oxygen." The anaerobic energy system is what provides energy in all out efforts of up to 1 minute. For the first ~10-15 seconds, the phosphate pool is used up and after that, glycolysis and lactic acid are involved in the effort.

During 10-15 second bursts, there is a very small amount of lactic acid produced and rest periods of 30 seconds to a minute will provide complete recovery of the Adenosine Triphosphate-Creatine Phosphate (ATP-CP) system. During efforts of more than 10-15 seconds, a large amount of lactic acid is produced and such efforts are extremely taxing on both the athlete’s muscles and their Central Nervous System (CNS).

Aerobic Energy System

Aerobic literally means "with oxygen." This energy system is utilized during prolonged exercise over a period of at least 3-4 minutes. As long as there is enough oxygen to provide energy, the fatigue that you experience will remain at a low level.

This is the reason why many track and field athletes train at higher altitudes where there is less oxygen. By training at high altitudes, they can increase the number of red blood cells which will help them to perform for a longer period of time with little to no fatigue throughout.


HIIT training also has a high afterburn effect, so you burn more calories throughout the day.

Bella is a HUGE fan of HIIT!

(Sorry for the poor video quality- it was taken via iPhone at the dog park)

She loves to sprint with the big dogs, recover and repeat :)

Around 4 years ago, when I first learned the glory of HIIT, my trainer made the mistake of failing to tell me how often to incorporate it into my routine. So naturally, I did it every day. My body was sore and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting stronger. A quick Google search let me know that HIIT should NOT be done every day, but rather a few times (max) each week.

-Frequency: HIIT only needs to be done 2-3 times a week, on non-consecutive days. While cardio can be performed every day, it’s important to remember that we’re using our heart to maximum capacity. Our heart is the most important muscle in our body, and just like our biceps and other muscles we train, it needs time to rest and recover, too. By allowing ourselves to rest in between HIIT training days with lower-intensity or steady state cardio days, we allow higher fitness gains to occur. HIIT training will make you a stronger, faster athlete and also makes regular cardio sessions feel much easier.

-Mode: As I said before, HIIT can be done in a variety of ways: on the spin bike, treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, running on the track, jump-roping or through plyometric moves (like burpees, vertical jumps, anything that will get the heart rate up very quickly). A fun way to change up your HIIT routine is through exploring a different mode, or checking out a HIIT-based DVD, such as TurboFire.

Bonus: you can do it anywhere :)

-Intensity: The idea behind HIIT is that you want to go balls to the wall for a short burst (30 seconds to 1 minute) and recover. Lather, rinse, repeat. My favorite interval set is 30 seconds on, 1 minute 30 seconds off, but find the best set that works for you. You may find that you like 45 seconds on, 2 minutes off, 30 seconds on, 2 minutes off, etc—play around and see what set you like best. If you get to the point where a certain set starts to feel easy, try increasing the amount of “go” time, or decreasing the amount of recovery time.

-Duration: HIIT workouts are SHORT workouts! 15-20 minutes of work is all you need. As with all workouts, make sure to sandwich the HIIT part in between a warm-up, cool down and juicy stretch session.

Some more tips:

-Wearing a heart rate monitor is an excellent tool for HIIT training. This way, you can make sure your heart rate has come down before going for the next interval set. You may find that you need more time to recover in between sprints, which is totally cool. A heart rate monitor can be your guide. If you don’t have one, go by the “talk test.” If you can fully speak a sentence after recovering (without gasping for breath), you’re ready to go again.

-If you’re going at HIIT training al fresco or without cardio equipment to use the clock, investing in an interval timer can be worth your while. You can set it to vibrate, beep mode and clip it to your tank or sports bra.

I love the Gymboss (pink!) interval timer :)

-Haven’t tried HIIT before? Make sure to talk with a doc or trainer in your area to see if it’s a good *fit* for you :)

Hope this helped a little!

Off to do the work thang :)

See ya later friends.



This post was originally published on Fitnessista.