Today, there is one proven form of exercise that is highly recommended for anyone who is really serious about losing weight and getting into his or her desired body shape in the shortest possible time and that is through the use of high intensity interval training – also known as HIIT.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a proven, time-efficient and safe interval training technique that by far outperforms any type of conventional low intensity aerobic exercise technique.
HIIT is an exercise technique that incorporates the alternating of short high-intensity exercise intervals with longer low-intensity recovery intervals during an exercise session. To put it more succinctly, HIIT is the mixing of short burst of intense exercise with longer recovery breaks – doing some short energy burst, then slowing down to recover and repeating the same procedure through the exercise session. You can make use of interval training during your exercise sessions such as sprinting, skating, jump rope, treadmill or swimming.
By way of illustration, let's assume you are going on your normal morning jogs. First, you might want to decide on the number of energy bursts (high intensity intervals) you want to add to your jogging this morning. It is equally important to remember that during this energy burst you'll have to push your heart rate above your normal training zone to about 80-90 per cent of your present capability.
You can begin jogging by warming up for about 5 minutes, then suddenly do a sprint burst for about 1 minute and thereafter slow down to your normal pace to recover for another 4 minutes. Repeating this procedure twice and giving yourself about 5 minutes to recovery will add up to about 20 minutes of workout for a start. As you go on, you can start increasing the high intensity burst interval to increase the impact.
Generally, high intensity interval trainings last for just about 20 minutes excluding the warm-up and recovery periods. The idea behind HIIT is to develop the ability of holding onto the anaerobic state – high intensity interval – for a longer cumulative time during the session session. However, the resting or recovery interval cycle of the workout is normally longer than the burst interval with an average of about two to four times.
There are basically four parameters which can be adjusted when planning a high intensity interval training workout taking into consideration your current overall fitness level as well as weight loss goals. These include:
Intensity / Speed of High-Intensity Interval
Duration / Distance / Time of High-Intensity Interval
Recovery Interval / Duration of rest
Number of repetitions of each interval
According to the American Council on Exercise, everyone can benefit from some type of high intensity interval training. While beginners can start by using interval training to gradually increase their level of endurance to a point where they become able to incorporating more strenuous higher intensity exercises, those already in good shape or even athletes can employ HIIT to boost their speed, endurance and overall performance .
The following interval training tips and guidelines can help you reduce any risk of injury and also help to maximize your high intensity interval training benefits.
1. Avoid performing exercises on an empty stomach
It is generally recommended to eat at least thirty minutes before workouts as this increases your ability to exercise harder and for much longer. Also eating before exercising helps you to eat fewer calories during the day compared to when you exercise on an empty stomach.
2. Maintain a healthy eating habit
It is still very important to ensure that you maintain a healthy eating lifestyle to provide the energy you need to cope with high intensity interval training and also to support your general weight loss initiative. Incorporate proteins, vegetables and low glycemic index carbohydrates into your diet to provide the necessary energy as well as minerals and vitamins.
3. Always warm up and cool down
Take about five minutes to warm up before exercising and another five minutes or thereabout to cool down after completing your exercise session. Warming up at slow rates prepares your joints, muscles and heart for the exercise. The cooling down period allows the body to return to its resting state and also help to prevent injury and muscle soreness.
4. Increase intensity gradually
Although the secret to HIIT is the intensity applied during the session session, it is however generally physically demanding and therefore always recommended to start according to your current fitness level and not to push yourself too hard when just starting HIIT.
5. Push yourself as hard as you can
When your endurance level increases, you can now attempt to sustain your high intensity intervals for about three to five minutes before slowing down to recover. The body generally adapts under intensity, therefore it is advised to always push yourself a bit harder every now and then for the body to keep trying to adapt to functioning at these higher intensities which helps to increase your overall weight loss ability.