Ramp Up Your Results With HIIT

Written by Ronny Terry - Fri 13th Sep 2019

High-intensity-interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise training that involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods or less-intense activity.

HIIT has become a buzz-word in recent years and is now more popular than ever, with many fitness fanatics replacing more relaxed activities such as jogging with high-octane HIIT sessions.

The Bodycoach has based his entire programme on HIIT and Instagram is full of gym bunnies giving it 110% in front of the camera.

 

So where did this all start?

Well, in 1996, a doctor by the name of Izumi Tabata showed that just four minutes of maximal intensity exercise, performed in eight bursts of 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, could have a huge effect on the body.

The effects were shown to be comparable to a group working at a much lower intensity for a whole hour. The HIIT group trained for a total of 20 minutes for five days per week compared to the five hours endured by group two - yet produced similar results.

Thats four minutes per day exercising compared to 1 hour!

As expected, the HIIT group also improved their anaerobic fitness - the ability to train longer at higher intensities.

To be 'true Tabata' the sessions must mirror what was shown in the study: twenty seconds of MAXIMAL intensity effort followed by ten seconds of rest, performed eight times, - and that's it. It’s brutal!

The workouts were completed on exercise bikes, but Tabata training can be done in lots of different ways: running, x-trainer,  rowing,  or even circuit type training.

Over twenty years on, everyone is name-dropping Tabata and using the 20/10 work-to-rest ratio during workouts and classes.

 

Benefits of HIIT

As well as cardio improvements, another big benefit of HIIT training is the 'after burn' effect of a raised metabolism hours after the exercise stops. The thought of burning extra calories while asleep is enough to convince many to ditch the jogging and ramp things up.

But if you’re new to exercise you should start easy and not go 'all in' at maximal intensity or train on consecutive days. Also, HIIT may not be suitable for the elderly,  or obese, who may benefit from a more comfortable and relaxed route into fitness.

 

Create Your Own Hiit Workout

HIIT training doesn't end with Tabata. Variations on work and rest periods are almost unlimited, and exercises can be chopped and changed. The intensity should always be high, but not necessarily maximal. HITT  is not the same as the walking for a minute / running for a minute method when starting running, where the intensity should be low.

Here's an example of a simple bodyweight HIIT workout:

Complete 20 seconds of each exercise and move straight on to the next. Rest for 1 minute after the 5th movement and complete another 2-5 rounds (if you have the energy).

 

  • Squats
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push-ups
  • High knees

 

You can mix up the exercises and add further rounds or increase the interval times as you get fitter.