Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
High intense interval training is a specific method of training. Do it properly and you will realize the benefits of this type of training. Do it wrong, and you’ll wonder what all the hype is about. And there is a lot of hype regarding HIIT training. High intense interval training topped the list for fitness trends of 2015. I find this somewhat funny because this type of training has been around for a long time. I’m willing to say it’s been around for hundreds of years. I look at when I do kata training for Karate. 30 to 45 seconds of intense movement followed by 20 seconds of rest. Do this over and over. Sounds like interval training to me. I think why it is looked at the number 1 trend is because people are starting to realize that they don’t have to spend an hour in the gym to realize health and fitness gains. Also people find it easier to set aside 15 minutes instead of that hour. Maybe it’s the number one trend because it’s what people want.
Having said that, let’s look at specific things we should be doing to get the most out of our HIITs.
The how matters
To realize the benefits of HIIT training you need to train properly. Makes sense, right? You can apply that basically to any type of training. The following are things you can do to keep you on track:
- Intensity: As the name says, it’s high intense interval training. If you are doing Tabata for your interval training, the 20 seconds of work needs to be at no less than 100% intensity, or output. If you don’t feel totally drained after a Tabata session, you didn’t work out intensely enough. If your HIIT training isn’t Tabata, but a 1 to 2 ratio of work to rest, you still need to be hitting an intensity level of about 90% output.
If you are able to talk why you are in the work phase of your interval training than you aren’t training at the right intensity level. You won’t realize the benefit of training for less time if you don’t hit the proper intensity level. It can be tough, it will make you feel uncomfortable but it’s worth it.
- Resistance: Add resistance training to your interval training program. This will give you the benefit of interval training along with the benefit of resistance training, a double win. Try adding explosive pushups, or jump squats into your workout. They are tough but worth it. I highly recommend doing this because if you stick to cardio exclusively you are more likely to develop muscular imbalances especially if you are doing the same type of exercise you do all the time such as running, or biking. Adding things such as jump squats, or speed lunges allow you to develop muscular strength in the muscles that aren’t necessarily engaged when running.
- Duration: HIIT training is tough! Exhausting. If you are new to it, keep it to the lower end of duration, and don’t do it more than twice a week. As an example, if you are doing Tabata for your HIIT training, stick to a 4 minute duration. If you are an advanced athlete, you can extend the 4 minutes to 8 minutes, and you can use a Tabata routine 3 times a week if you want. If doing a type of interval training that uses a 2 to 1 rest to work ratio, keep in no longer than 30 minutes of duration.
- Keeping it cool: Be sure to include time to cool down your body. This should be some type of movement that is moderate to low intensity and no less than 2 minutes. This allows the body to bring itself back to a lower heart rate and will also prevent blood pooling at the muscles that were doing the work. The worst thing you can do is to just stop at the end of your training. Cooling down can prevent things such as dizziness or a cardiac episode.
I’m congratulating you because you are doing interval training. Not many people do this, but the ones that do really benefit. Trust me, I know. I have been working with a group of people for about a year now interval training and the results I have seen are phenomenal. I have to constantly raise the bar because their bodies are becoming more efficient each time.
If you aren’t interval training, start. You will be glad you did.
Yours in health,