If you’ve ever visited a gym anytime in this past couple of years, you’ve probably been introduced to the concept of a high-intensity workout. High-intensity interval training claims to be the magic trick needed to push your workout to the limit and produce the best results in weight loss and body composition. And that’s true—if you do it properly. It’s easy to confuse regular high-intensity or interval workouts for HIIT, but the term is more specific than that.
If you want to incorporate HIIT into your workout routine, do your research before hitting the gym. Although people are primarily referring to cardio when they talk about HIIT, you can incorporate the concepts behind HIIT into your strength training as well, which can produce improved results overall.
Maximize the ‘high-intensity’ portion
When athletes refer to “high intensity,” it’s not an exaggeration. You have to push yourself hard to achieve significant benefits. There’s no comfortable paces in HIIT exercising. The standard expectation is that you should not be able to exercise and talk at the same time. You should feel out of breath within a minute or two of very intense exercise.
One important detail to remember is that one athlete’s maximum level won’t be the same as another athlete’s. Although you should be heavily exerting yourself during HIIT workouts, you should also take care to seek your own limits rather than competing with someone else’s. Be aware of your physical capabilities. If you’re a workout novice, you’re not going to have the power and speed of a gym regular. That’s OK. Exercise at the pace that leaves you exhausted but not feeling like you’re going to die. If you think two minutes of exercise have left you burned out for 10 minutes or more, you may have taken it too far.
Take regular breaks
HIIT means interval training, and interval training means taking breaks between movements. If you’re just starting out with HIIT training, you should give yourself a 1:2 ratio of exercise to rest. That means if you workout for two minutes, rest for four before beginning again. If you feel like this is unachievable, you can grant yourself a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio if necessary. If you feel like a 1:2 ratio is excessive, you can improve your numbers and give yourself a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio instead. Over time and with more experience you will need less rest between sets. But that doesn’t mean you should try to cut it out.
Fans of HIIT say this rest period isn’t just to help you catch your breath – it’s essential to the weight loss benefits of HIIT. By forcing your body to switch quickly between a state of extreme duress and a state of complete rest, you will use up more calories, according to trainers. In burning more calories switching between periods of rest and exercise, you increase the efficiency of your fat loss versus if you were to just exercise continuously.
The other important detail to remember is HIIT is demanding and requires mental resilience – you should do a maximum of 30 minutes of HIIT exercise before calling it quits. Don’t burn out your body in one workout session.
Don’t limit your HIIT to cardio
Using HIIT strategies can help burn calories and push your muscles to their limits, improving your fitness and overall tone at once. But this exercise is physically demanding and strenuous. Know your body’s limits and respect when it’s telling you it’s done. With repeated effort and patience, HIIT can transform your body with great results.