Have you been working out for a while but feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Intensity may be your missing link. Intensity, or the amount of energy expended when working out, can often play a major role in whether or not you’re achieving your fitness and weight loss goals. Exercise intensity defines how hard the body has to work during physical activity. This can have an effect on the type of fuel the body uses during the workout and what kind of adaptations the body may make after exercise. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT training “burns more calories during and after a workout than continuous aerobic training,” according to athletic trainer Scott Weiss, C.S.C.S. This means your body will burn calories at a higher rate for up to approximately 2 hours post workout. The best part about HIIT? It can be done in about 20 minutes which means you can spend less time working out while getting more out of your workouts. If you’re not getting anywhere with your fitness and weight loss goals, HIIT may be the answer to your problems. Follow the tips below to get in a proper HIIT workout.
1. Measure Intensity – How do you measure intensity? Some use heart rate monitors to gauge how hard their workout is. However, there is an easier method to use as long as you can be honest with yourself. This method is called Perceived Rating of Exertion (PRE). With PRE, all you need to do is use a scale of 1 – 10. 1 is the easiest exertion level, meaning your workout isn’t challenging at all. 10 is the hardest exertion level, meaning you couldn’t workout any harder if you tried and you certainly can’t speak. You want your HIIT intervals to reach periods of 8 & 9. PRE levels of 8 & 9 may need to be adjusted according to your fitness level. A PRE of 7 may do the trick. It’s important to note that everyone will have a different PRE as all bodies are different and all fitness levels vary per person. Your intensity level needs to be high in order to achieve the maximum benefits out of HIIT training.
2. Time Frames – There is no true set structure for HIIT training. This type of high intensity interval training includes short, intense bursts of exercise followed by a period of rest. The time frame for your interval bursts will vary based upon your fitness level. A beginner exerciser may only need an interval of time frame 20 seconds while a seasoned exerciser may need an interval of up to one minute or more. HIIT is generally performed for about 20 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes. An example of a full HIIT workout would be to do a 10 minute warm up, perform a 30 second burst interval (sprint) followed by 60 seconds of rest. Repeat the 30 second sprint with 60 seconds of rest ten times. Follow up your workout with a 5 minute cool down or continue cooling down until your heart rate lowers.
3. Types Of Exercises – The great thing about HIIT training is that you can use so many different types of exercise to accomplish what HIIT is meant to do. Sprints are a great way to perform HIIT training and can be done on a treadmill, at a park, on a bike, at the beach and more. You could also use an elliptical trainer, stationary bike, tread climber or the piece of equipment of your choice. In addition, jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers and power jacks are fantastic ways to get your HIIT workout in. Using machines like the treadmill can keep you committed to the amount of time and intensity because it’s easier to force yourself to go harder or faster. On the other hand, body weight movements such as squat jumps and burpees are fantastic full body movements that require no equipment which means you can do them anywhere.
HIIT can help you make significant changes in your body. Getting in a workout that challenges you and burns a ton of calories in a short period of time is certainly appealing. While the goal of HIIT training is to push yourself hard to force your body into burning more calories, it’s also important to remain safe. Please make sure before you perform a HIIT workout that you understand the movements and know how to do them. Also, it’s important to be mindful of your workload and that you work at your level. If you ever feel like this type of training is too much for you, please reduce the intensity to something that suits your fitness level.