The Basics of HIIT

A chick on the go has got to use her time wisely. Sometimes it isn’t realistic to think we can spend an hour in the gym 5 days out of the week. The good news is that we don’t need to in order to keep up with an effective training plan. In fact, some of the most effective cardio regimens only take 20 minutes. This too-good-to-be-true concept comes in the form of high intensity interval training, or HIIT. HIIT refers to any workout that utilizes intense bursts of aerobic movement followed by a recovery period. Seriously, that’s it. You can put together a workout that will kick your ass in less than 20 minutes (so don’t even try to make an excuse about not having time, okay?).

The easiest way to put this training into action is on the treadmill or track (but cycling, rowing, jumping rope, etc work too!). For a fat blasting workout try running as FAST as you can for a full minute, and then recovering for 2 minutes. Similarly, running in an all-out sprint for 30 seconds and recovering for 60 seconds accomplishes the same results. Basically you will be utilizing a 1:2 ratio of work to rest. By doing this you improve your aerobic capacity (how quickly your muscles can absorb oxygen) and improve exercise performance! Check out this visual for more dets.

Really, the best part about utilizing the HIIT method of training is that not only will you burn a ton of calories, but your body will be revved into hyperdrive creating what is commonly known as the afterburn effect. Meaning, unlike steady-pace cardio, you will continue to burn fat well after your body stops moving for as long as 24-48 hours. Take a look at the body of any olympic sprinter. They are long, lean, and super tight.

Here is a quick example to put it all together:

3-5 minute warm-up (think light jog, jumping jacks or a boxers shuffle side-to-side)

5 cycles:
60 seconds sprint
120 seconds recovery

5 cycles:
30 seconds sprint
60 seconds recovery

3-5 minute cool down and/or stretching

Most of us aren’t used to pushing ourselves to our threshold so at a beginner level doing this once a week should do the trick. As you get acclimated to the HIIT style of training you can increase frequency but keep in mind that this isn’t the type of activity you should be doing more than two or three times a week due to its taxing nature.

Try it for yourself and enjoy the rewards inside and out.



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  2. QUESTION! What does one do during the recovery time? I assumed bring the treadmill down to a walk, but after some Googling, I read one article suggesting you leave the treadmill running and hop off to rest. I’m mentally preparing myself for my first HIIT and I’m scared.

    • Hi Kate! Many people opt to jump off the belt when doing HIIT, however I don’t necessarily recommend that as it can be pretty dangerous depending on your speeds. I have visions of myself falling off the treamill this way, ha! Personally, I prefer to get myself down to a recovery pace and THEN start my recovery. When I’m back at my HIIT pace I restart the clock. You’ll be on the honor system though so make sure you’re staying true to the 2:1 ratio and not taking too much time to get from HIIT to recovery pace. Does that make sense? Don’t be scared, the time goes by SO quickly and you’ll feel amazing, strong, and fast when it is over.

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