As winter is slowly but surely coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about ways to shed those excess winter pounds. So find your way back to the gym, the park, the pool, but this time instead of routinely stepping onto the treadmill or cross-trainer for an hour or so, try something that will catapult you back into beach-readiness in no time. It’s called High Intensity Interval Training—or HIIT in short—and once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look back.
HIIT consists of a series of short high-intensity intervals, followed by longer low-intensity intervals. It can be applied to any kind of cardio workout, whether it’s running, cycling, rowing, cross-training and so on. What this means for your body, is that it never gets the chance to get used to a certain level of exercise. For instance, when running at a steady pace, your body is able to ‘zone out’ because it doesn’t have to accommodate to new impulses. It just needs to keep doing what it’s doing. Not so with HIIT. Just when your body is getting used to a level of intensity, you force it to slow down or speed up again, keeping it constantly switched on in anticipation of what’s next.
Common HIIT schedules consist of 30/90, 30/60 or 30/30 intervals, i.e. 30 seconds of high intensity followed by 90 seconds of low intensity. High intensity in this context means setting your pace so that your heart rate is 80-90% of its maximum, whereas during the low intensity intervals, your heart rate should be around 40-50% of its max. Keep this up for about twenty minutes and you should be more than done for the day.
HIIT can help you lose body fat (while retaining lean body mass) as you will burn more calories in less time than regular cardio exercise because of the high intensity parts, and you will continue to burn calories after you’ve ended your workout. Plus some studies even indicate it seems to build better endurance than traditional endurance training itself. More results in less time—bring on the spring!