HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. Exercises are performed that engage your major muscle groups for a specific number of seconds or minutes, then you decrease the intensity, or rest, for a specific number of seconds or minutes.
HIIT training workouts are designed to effectively work your major muscle groups, both upper and lower body, and your core.
High Intensity Interval Training workouts will jump your heart rate up quickly. Most HIIT workouts can be accomplished in 20 minutes or less. It all depends on where you start. You wouldn’t want to go from living a sedentary lifestyle to jumping into 45-minute HIIT workouts.
As always, if you have any health conditions check with your doctor before beginning any workout routine.
In this article I will tell you why HIIT training is good, give you some examples and introduce you to a type of HIIT training called Tabata.
Steady-state training involves doing an aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up to between 130-150 beats per minute and keeps it there for 30-60 minutes. It could be higher or lower depending on the person.
Although steady-state training is not part of HIIT training, it is important to add some sort of steady-state training at least once a week to maintain baseline aerobic steady-state fitness.
Remember, steady-state training works the most important muscle in your body…your heart. Your heart needs exercise too. And aerobic/cardio exercise will give your heart a workout.
Recovery from steady-state training is relatively short since you are not creating a “state of disruption” for the body. So, you aren’t going to continue to burn calories for hours after doing steady-state training, as you would from doing HIIT training.
I started working out when I was 18 years old. That was over 30 years ago. I was unhappy with my weight and I wanted muscle definition. I thought that I needed to do as much cardio as I could in order to lose weight. I did only cardio and no strength training for a couple of years, and I was still unhappy with my weight. Then…
I learned that I needed to add some strength training and HIIT workouts to my routine. After a couple of months of strength training and HIIT workouts, I was much happier with the results I was getting. I finally lost some weight and I felt better about my body.
Doing only cardio caused me to bulk up. I had a muscular build, but I didn’t like looking like a linebacker. By regularly lifting weights and doing HIIT workouts 3 times a week, I changed this.
I started working out about 5 months ago, after not working out for over 2 years. I have been doing mostly cardio workouts. I’m not getting the results I want. Knowing what I know about HIIT workouts, it’s time I start incorporating HIIT workouts into my exercise plan.
I am starting today with HIIT training. I know without any doubt that it will produce the results I am after. I want to be slimmer and to have more tone to my muscles.
I get a little help from the pre-workout supplement that I take about 20-30 minutes before my workout. It gives me a boost of energy which is what I need to give it my all and tackle these HIIT workouts.
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise
Interval training is discontinuous aerobic activity. It involves mixing higher and lower intensity intervals. It can alternate between lower and higher aerobic activity, or between aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) activity.
The difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is their source of energy.
Aerobics improves the aerobic system and develops the efficiency of the lungs, muscles, and blood.
Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to create ATP which powers the lungs and muscles.
Anaerobic training is more intense, so it requires a faster energy source. Its source of energy is lactate. Lactate is fed by glycogen.
Aerobic work is sustainable and often longer and slower. Whereas anaerobic work is unsustainable and very fast and powerful.
Interval training combines aerobic and anaerobic exercises. While working at your maximum intensity, you are performing anaerobic exercises. And when you are working with less intensity, you are performing aerobic exercises.
Examples of aerobic exercise include going for a 60-minute walk, swimming laps, using a bike, or a stationary bike, etc…
Anaerobic training is any exercise done without the presence of oxygen, such as doing burpees, sprinting, doing jump squats, jumping rope, etc…
Benefits of HIIT
There are several benefits that a person gains from doing HIIT. Here are a few.
- Burn a lot of calories in a little amount of time.
- Continue to burn calories for hours after a workout
- Burns fat
- Gain muscle
- Improve oxygen consumption
- It can reduce heart rate and blood pressure
- Can reduce blood sugar
- Improves aerobic and anaerobic performance
Research has shown that HIIT training results in a higher metabolic rate, which means that your body continues to use calories for energy.
Just 20-30 minutes of HIIT training allows you to burn the same number of calories as you would if you were to do 60 minutes of cardio (aerobics). Plus, you will continue to burn additional calories for hours after a HIIT workout.
Research has shown that HIIT can shift the body’s metabolism to use fat instead of carbs for energy.
Tabata is a type of HIIT. It was developed by Japanese professor Dr. Izumi Tabata in the late 1990s. He developed it to train Olympic speed skaters. Tabata is an exercise strategy that is more of a formula than a specific workout.
HIIT and Tabata training workouts are top-rated workout choices because people are very busy and these workouts can be done in as little as 10 minutes. I recommend doing at least 20 minutes, 3-4 times a week. Remember, muscles need to replenish and rest. HIIT/Tabata, if done on consecutive days, can undermine your fitness success.
There is a vast amount of research that shows small doses of exercise create big improvements in fitness.
With Tabata, the whole body should be utilized throughout the workout, and all three planes (upper body, lower body, and core) should be incorporated into the workout.
Tabata is a type of HIIT training, but not all HIIT training is Tabata. Tabata follows strict protocols. Instead of intervals, where you are working at high intensity for a time and then decreasing the intensity for a time, Tabata is where you will work at maximum capacity for a specific number of seconds followed by a specific number of seconds of rest.
While you don’t necessarily need any equipment for Tabata or HIIT, it is a good idea to have some hand-weights, some resistance bands, a medicine ball, an aerobic step, a jump rope, a mat, etc… As you get into doing Tabata, you will want to utilize these to isolate your muscles and to help you progress.
Although Tabata’s original protocol calls for 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest (20/10), it can be done with varying ratios of work to rest. Other protocols that are utilized during Tabata are:
- 20-10: Classic Tabata timing
- 40-30-20: Hard, harder, hardest (with breaks)
- 30-20-10: Hard, Harder, Hardest (without breaks)
Make sure you do a 3-4 minute warm-up before beginning the high-intensity exercises. Jumps are only an option. you can still work at high intensity without doing any jumps.
And you mustn’t do HIIT or Tabata on consecutive days. Your muscles need 48 hours to repair before working them again. If you were to do Tabata or HIIT daily you would be doing more harm than good.
Never compromise form for speed. Moving in proper alignment is important to get the full benefits of the movements and to prevent injury. You’ll be moving fast so concentrate on keeping your form. If you have to slow down to keep your form, then so be it.
All Tabata training has bouts of work and rest. Positive recovery training is when the work bout is less than or equal to the rest bout. Examples of this timing are:
- 30 seconds work/30 seconds rest
- 60 seconds work/75 seconds rest
- 20 seconds work/40 seconds rest
Negative recovery training is when the work bout is greater than the rest bout. Examples of this are:
- 30 seconds work/20 seconds rest
- 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest (classic Tabata training protocol)
- 60 seconds work/40 seconds rest
When you are performing the bouts of work, stopping is not an option. If you fail before the time is up return to a regressive state of the exercise but do not quit.
At the end of the bout of work, you should “be dust, be done, be through” you deserve a break. Don’t choose an intensity that you can do. Choose an intensity that you can barely do.
Having to time yourself is hard. But, you can get music that is made specifically for Tabata and/or HIIT. I know that Dynamix offers the music with the start work and stop work cues incorporated into each song. Another place is power music. I have used power music for close to 20 years for all of my fitness music.
If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, then you should start with very short workouts. You can also use a vibration plate to prepare your body to be able to perform HIIT or/and Tabata workouts.
EPOC stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. It’s the amount of oxygen consumed by the body after the exercise has been completed. Research shows that this speeds up weight loss.
Evidence says that high-intensity interval resistance training has a greater effect on EPOC levels than similar types of aerobics. Also, current research shows that as resistance intensity increases, the EPOC duration also increases.
In a study done in 2011, one 6-minute workout bout produced 5 times more of a calorie burn when the workout was over than when compared to other forms of training. The participants in the study burned 50 calories during the 6-minute workout. However, their metabolism stayed elevated for an additional 24 hours post-workout. This burned an additional 250 calories. That is a total of 300 calories for 6 minutes of HIIT/Tabata. It typically takes 30 minutes of steady-state exercise to burn 300 calories.
The EPOC is the afterburn. An EPOC is created by performing Tabata/HIIT workouts.
Tabata and HIIT Exercises
Numerous exercises will work for doing Tabata or HIIT training. Some of these include:
Maybe We Should Add Some Tabata to Our Routines
I’ve done my research and I am ready to create my own EPOC. I have been doing dance fitness for a few months. I know I need to switch things up, but it isn’t easy. I am committing today.
I was making progress with my weight loss. But I have stopped progressing. I work out in steady-state and that doesn’t give me an afterburn. I am taking in more calories than I’m burning. So…
I will start by doing intervals of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. Tabata/HIIT workouts are not easy. They are very hard to do. But the benefits outweigh the hard work.
Remember though… Our eating habits play a huge part in the results we get. I need to practice what I preach by making healthier food choices. I don’t do diets, but I will make better food choices and for now, I will cut back on the cookies. Oreo’s got to go. So sad, but oh well.
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