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HIIT

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HIIT or high intensive interval training is fast becoming a convenient alternative to conventional exercises. HIIT method of cardio helps burn more calories, lose more fat, build up endurance and improve cardiovascular fitness level while spending less time. Those lamenting about lack of time and successfully evade exercises may find it hard to continue doing so as HIIT cardio is a time-efficient form of exercise. Even dedicated fitness enthusiasts are switching over to HIIT workout as it makes possible creating a tailor-made HIIT routine which accommodates particular needs and goals.


HIIT can be an exclusive exercise regimen or can be integrated into the existing schedule so as to speed up fat loss and fitness gains. Here is a HIIT guide to novice exercisers and seasoned exercisers who are eager to take body to next fitness level.


High intensive interval training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is all about engaging in short intense high-paced exercises followed by short rest/intervals which can be termed as recovery periods. The basic idea behind this form of workout is to alternate intense workout with a recovery period consisting of lighter work. An example of this would be a 30 second sprint followed by a 4 minute steady pace walk to cool down and bring heart rate back to normal and then repeating it.


HIIT is for all, the specific intensity and duration can be modified to suit specific age, gender as well as training goals of the individual. HIIT can be incorporated into any training protocol, be it weight training, sprinting, rowing, swimming, climbing or sport specific workouts. For instance, you can sprint for 30 seconds and then jog or walk for a minute, then repeat this HIIT workout numerous time for the best result.


The best part is that a HIIT workout can be done anywhere with or without any type of equipment and machinery. HIIT is equally feasible with cardio equipment like elliptical, bike, stair climber etc or the sledgehammer, mace or the sandbag or the stationary bike, stair master, mountain bike, local track etc. All these can be considered for HIIT.


  • Running

  • Treadmill

  • Box jumps

  • Sled pulling

  • Sprinting

  • Elliptical

  • Thrusters

  • Jump rope

  • Biking

  • Weight Training

  • Pushups

  • Squats

  • Plyometrics

  • Stair master

  • Kettlebell

  • Power cleans

HIIT advantages

An anaerobic exercise like HIIT has been highly popular with athletes for decades. But the popularity is widespread even amongst others not connected with sports. HIIT has emerged to be far superior when compared to long, slow cardio routines to burn off calories, to lose subcutaneous fat, relieve boredom and improve general health.


HIIT cardio to burn fat: While comparing HIIT cardio with a steady state cardio, it's true that at higher intensities, the total fat burnt is more. Research indicates that short intense cardio intervals burn more body fat than sustained activity like the steady-state cardio.


HIIT routine to lose weight: HIIT workout is a great weight loss strategy. A 20 minute- HIIT cardio is best to lose belly fat fast.


HIIT to burn additional calories: HIIT routine changes body's calorie burning capabilities. HIIT is a type of exercise which is closely related to EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, a process which occurs while doing HIIT thus burning additional calories for hours post-exercise. Several studies show that HIIT raises resting metabolism and burns 10% more calories over a 24-hour period.


Improve endurance with HIIT: HIIT workouts immensely benefit in improving speed, endurance and agility, three important aspects for those playing any sport. This is done by increasing an individual's VO2, the maximum oxygen amount one can take in during an exercise session or during sports. If the VO2 peaks, it enables the person to perform physical activities for a longer span of time without getting exhausted too soon.


HIIT workout is time-efficient: The time-efficient aspect has immensely contributed to HIIT becoming more popular. A typical HIIT workout is 15 to 20 minutes in duration.


HIIT helps preserves muscle mass: Though exercises can help in losing body fat, not all help in preserving muscle mass while losing body fat. Losing body fat means looking leaner but if muscle mass is lost, regardless of pounds lost, the body looks unhealthy. Preserving muscle mass is important to enhancing appearance and is essential for all aspects of human function. HIIT is an anaerobic activity like weight lifting; it will actually help you preserve muscle mass, look better and feel better. Moreover, those who maintain muscles mass have greater exercise tolerance and endurance.


HIIT for overall well being: Performing HIIT improves overall level of fitness. This in turn reflects in better performance, higher confidence level and self-esteem.


HIIT cardio


Those with cardiovascular problems or risk factors should not indulge in HIIT routines without consulting a personal health care provider. Overweight people, those leading a sedentary life style, those addicted to alcohol or smoking, people with orthopedic, cardiac and even psychological issues should avoid HIIT. On the other hand, those who are new to exercise in general should start off with steady state cardio exercise before advancing to HIIT.

HIIT is indeed one of the most demanding workouts around. In the absence of set rules, remember these points before actually embarking on a HIIT routine.


  • If you are new to HIIT, take it slow. It can be tough in the beginning and the risk of injury is high.

  • In the first few HIIT sessions, simply focus on determining how hard you can go. Gradually and steadily introduce HIIT as part of exercise regimen so that the body gets adapted to the changing demands of HIIT workouts. Never overdo it.

  • HIIT is not for those who stay away from carbohydrates. HIIT demands resources to effectively complete a session. Eat something that is easily digested 20-30 minutes before training.

  • Warm up for 10 minutes before each HIIT workout. All the muscles need to get warm and ready, a vital sign to begin the session.

  • Cool down for at least five minutes after each HIIT workout.

  • Never do HIIT workouts everyday or even two days in a row. It is recommended to do high intensity interval training every other day or about 3 days per week. On the other days, you can engage in traditional training too.

  • Schedule HIIT; say about 20-30 minute workouts. Modify as needed to fit your fitness level and goals.

  • Have realistic expectations. To achieve targeted results, provide support with a good diet and weight training.

  • Remember to drink a lot of water throughout HIIT workout. Poor hydration and inadequate diet can lead to withdrawing from a well-planned HIIT routine.

  • Be alert and look for rest signs from the body. Even if you are mentally agile and want to push ahead, the body may want to back off.

  • After HIIT workout, if you are feeling short of breath, tired and sweaty it means you are doing quite well but if you begin to feel dizzy or experience pain in the chest, stop right away.

Sample HIIT routines

A typical HIIT workout should begin at a low pace, last several minutes, slowly increasing the pace until an intense level is reached and then slowing down to another several minutes of low pace. The key component is the intensity. Measure the intensity and the heart rate which should rate up, then the HIIT workout is effective enough. Here are few samples for consideration.


Tabata: This method of high intensity interval training - propounded by the Japanese physiologist Izumi Tabata consists of 4 minutes session. 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds (240 seconds or 4 minutes in all).

Simple HIIT routine: Start out by warming up for 5 to 10 minutes. Follow that up with 30 seconds of sprinting and then go back to a fast walk for 60 seconds. That is one interval. Repeat for a total of up to 10 intervals. Then follow that up with a 5 minute walk to cool down.


Treadmill HIIT: Warm up for five minutes at 75% of your 5k pace (10kph is fine). Increase the gradient to 10% after three minutes. Continue running for 30 seconds then straddle the treadmill. Observe heart rate. Wait for it to return to below 135bpm and get back on the treadmill. Repeat. Increase speed by .5kph each set. Continue till the stage of not being able to complete the 30 second set. Allow three minutes recovery and repeat for desired number of sets.


Rowing machine HIIT: Warm up for three minutes by rowing at a pace which is absolutely comfortable. Set the screen to display calories. At the end of the third minute, exert and explore into maximum effort. Wait for heart rate to return to below 130bpm. Complete another 60-second set. Continue for desired number of sets.


HIIT Cardio routine: Set any cardio machine like stepper or climber on manual mode. Warm up for 5 minutes. Work out 1 minute hard-RPE 6-7, 1 minute moderate- RPE 5. Repeat 10 times. Warm down and stretch.

Add variety to HIIT workouts, usher in fun. Combine HIIT workouts with a nutritious diet. You will soon notice encouraging changes that you have been longing for.

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