What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a method of training that couples periods of intense, anaerobic exercises with periods of less intense, aerobic exercises or rest. HIIT workouts can help you work more efficiently under the stresses encountered every day on the job, be it on the fireground or beyond.
Forms of high intensity training have been around forever. You have probably participated in this style of workout before. Nonetheless, not all workouts that cycle between high and low levels of intensity are actual HIIT workouts. HIIT relies on strictly monitored rest and work periods known as intervals.
An example of a HIIT circuit could rely on a 30/30 rest to work split for a total of 6-9 minutes. This simply means, that for the first 30 seconds of each minute, the person will be performing a specific exercise, the second half of each minute they will be resting, all for a total of 6-9 consecutive minutes.
HIIT has gained popularity in recent years in the fitness industry and daily workout regiments due to its wide range of health benefits, convenience, and adaptability with varying fitness goals.
HIIT conditions the body to be able to perform at intense levels repeatedly with little to no rest. It increases cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance, and muscle strength. It is also an extremely helpful tool for fat loss.
HIIT is very effective when performed properly because of a lasting metabolic process that occurs in the body long after the exercise is completed. This effect is known as EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) or the ‘After-burn effect’. The After-burn effect is essentially an increase in metabolic activity and therefore an increase in calorie burn that takes place after the workout is completed. The body seeks to repair cells and restore oxygen that was depleted during the high levels of intense exercise.
To explain further, the body is running on a lack of oxygen during the intense periods of exercise. This prolonged period of oxygen depletion causes the body to work long after the exercise has been completed in order to restore oxygen levels. This is what causes you to burn more calories up to 36 hours after your workout is completed.
The best part of all? Your body specifically uses fatty acids as its primary source of energy in order to carry out the metabolic duties of repairing cells and replenishing oxygen stores. This means that your body is breaking down fat and using fatty acids for metabolic energy for up to 36 hours after you perform HIIT!
HIIT programs require little space, can be completed in less than 10 minutes and can be done without any equipment – your body weight can suffice. However, depending on your individual fitness goals, using equipment can help take your HIIT routine to the next level. Some examples of equipment you may want to incorporate are dumbbells, kettlebells, a jump rope, a weighted vest, a stability ball, a medicine ball, or a resistance band.
HIIT can be implemented by a diverse group of people with a wide range of fitness levels and goals. It is not limited to workouts individually and is a great opportunity to work out in pairs or groups while still limiting time and space. It can be performed just about anywhere: indoors, outdoors, gym, park.
As a personal trainer, I have incorporated HIIT into my programs to help achieve success with clients ranging from the age of 18-60+. A good HIIT program can help an average person to lose fat, gain muscle, increase strength, improve body composition, and live a healthier life. When implemented properly, it can be used in an activity-specific setting to improve performance for firefighters and athletes of all types.
The key to a successful HIIT routine is in the program design. When selecting exercises to incorporate into a HIIT program you need to consider a few things:
• What is your current fitness level?
• What are your goals (specifically)?
• What muscles are you looking to target?
• What equipment do you have available to you?
Depending upon your fitness level, the HIIT routine you would choose would vary in the exercises themselves as well as the length of intervals. For a example of a HIIT circuit, I have displayed a beginner program for the average person looking to decrease body fat and gain strength:
Work/rest interval: 30/30. Complete 6-9 minutes (2-3 consecutive rounds)
Exercise 1: Burpee
Exercise 2: Mountain Climber
Exercise 3: Squat Jumps
Why Choose HIIT?
Mixing up your workout style, focus, and goals is something that may not seem like a big deal when you get caught up in your daily routines. However, it has been my experience personally and through watching others, that changing things up and making sure to enjoy your workouts are ways to secure consistency, longevity and ultimately enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Incorporating HIIT into your fitness routine is an excellent way to continue improving your health, your body composition, and destroying your fitness goals.
Matt Mickey earned a Bachelor’s of Exercise Science (with a Minor in Nutrition) from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He certified as a personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Assn. You can reach Matt at email@example.com