High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT, for short) is undoubtedly a term you’ve heard being thrown around in fitness spaces like jelly tots at a grade two’s party. It’s ever-present in online discussions, always being encouraged by your fittest friend, and plastered in the Instagram captions of every Fitfluencer worth their weight in creatine. But what IS it? Yes, you know what all the words mean in isolation but how does one go about doing High Intensity Interval Training? And why would anyone want to?
Trojan Health and Fitness took a deep dive into the peaks and troughs of HIIT, so we can tell you what it is, why you should give it a try, and which types of training (and what Trojan equipment) are best suited for the HIIT method.
We’ll also cover what precautions you should take if you’re trying this out for the first time, and the cool physiological benefits of HIIT that you can whip out around the water fountain to make it sound like a seasoned HIIT professional even if you’re still dripping in sweat from your first heavy sesh.
Ready to say “Hi” to “high intensity?” Let’s dive in!
What is HIIT?
HIIT workouts alternate short periods of intense activity with longer recovery periods, so maxing out for a short window, chilling out for a longer one and then repeating. These high-intensity intervals push your body to its maximum capacity, while the recovery periods allow your body to recover before the next high-intensity interval.
As a result, you can complete more reps than you would without purposeful breaks. HIIT has been proven to be incredibly effective for improving cardiovascular fitness, burning fat, and increasing muscle endurance. It’s also great for your mood and mental health because it releases short bursts of exercise endorphins that really ramp up that post-workout buzz.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
- HIIIT contributes to increased cardiovascular fitness:
HIIT improves your cardiovascular fitness by pushing your heart rate to its maximum during the high-intensity intervals. This is one quick route to unleashing your inner cardio bunny while lowering your chances of cardiac arrest in the future.
- The right routine will improve your endurance:
HIIT training increases muscle endurance, allowing you to perform more reps or go for longer periods before fatigue sets in. Basically, you’re not absolutely wrecking yourself all at once by pushing to your max immediately and for longer. This is a great way to ramp up to longer workouts if you’re particularly unfit.
- You can use HIIT for rapid fat burning:
HIIT is known to be effective for burning fat, as it increases the number of calories burned during and after the workout. A 20-minute jog vs a 20-minute HIIT workout will burn significantly fewer calories, as the jog isn’t significantly raising your heart rate enough to efficiently kick off your metabolism.
- It’s time efficient:
HIIT can be done in a short amount of time, making it a great option for people with busy schedules. If you find yourself using the excuse “I can’t work out because I’m too busy,” a HIIT training program will fix that for you. You’re welcome, now get moving!
- HIIT contributes to an increased metabolism:
HIIT has been shown to increase the body’s metabolism, burning more calories at rest. Yes – even on the couch after your workout, you’re reaping the benefits.
- It could contribute to increased muscle mass:
HIIT training can help increase muscle mass, which also helps to burn more calories at rest. So, you get to eat that second sandwich. You’ve earned it!
- HIIT has holistic benefits:
This type of training is great for your overall health in that it can help lower blood pressure, improve lung function, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
How to do High Intensity Interval Training in your chosen sport
The great thing about High Intensity Interval Training is that it’s not necessarily a specific set of movements, but rather a manner of approaching your workouts. This means these benefits are applicable across a wide range of exercises, which allows you to apply these nifty principles to the type of training that you enjoy the most. Obviously, there’s a little more finesse one can apply here when developing an in-depth gym plan, and it’s crucial to be mindful of your fitness level to avoid injury:
Running or sprinting: Alternate between running at a moderate pace and sprinting at maximum effort. You can do this on a Trojan treadmill.
Jumping jacks: Alternate between doing jumping jacks at a moderate pace and doing them as fast as possible. Ramp up that effort level with Trojan Resistance Bands.
Burpees: Alternate between doing burpees at a moderate pace and doing them as fast as possible. Make sure your hands and knees stay protected on a Trojan yoga mat.
Rowing: Alternate between rowing at a moderate pace and rowing at maximum effort. You can do this from the comfort of your own home on a Trojan Rowing Machine.
Bodyweight exercises: Alternate between exercises such as squats, push-ups, and lunges at a moderate pace and at maximum effort. Your one-stop bodyweights accessories kit is available from Trojan, too.
Kettlebell or dumbbell exercises: Alternate between exercises such as kettlebell swings or dumbbell thrusters at a moderate pace and at maximum effort. Take a look at our range of weights to select the right ones for your strength level.
Swimming: Alternate between swimming at moderate pace and at maximum effort. You can work out those sore muscles afterwards with a Trojan 4 in 1 massage set.
Precautions to take when doing HIIT
Much like any fresh type of training, it’s critical that you ease your body into a new way of moving, or you’ll end up grumpy, injured and unmotivated. Before you attempt your first HIIT workout, we’d recommend you take the following precautions to ensure it’s a good one:
- Start with a proper warm-up to prepare your body for the workout.
- Gradually increase the intensity of your intervals to avoid injury.
- Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or discomfort.
- Stay hydrated throughout the workout.
- Make sure you have the proper form for each exercise to prevent injury.
- Allow for proper rest and recovery between HIIT sessions, especially if you are a bit of a rookie.
- Consult with a doctor or trainer if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns. Everyone’s body needs different things!
What are the medical benefits of HIIT?
Now that we’ve gotten you excited to try it, we know we promised you a few water-fountain facts, and these are pretty mind-blowing. When you shift up your routine, not only will you reap all the physically noticeable benefits of trying HIIT, but you’ll also be positively altering the way your body works on a cellular level. Here are some cool things to know about your new workout:
- HIIT improves your ‘EPOC,’ or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This is a fancy way of saying it ensures that the body continues to burn calories even after the workout is over as it works to return to its normal state.
- Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, so building lean muscle with HIIT means you’re actually getting better at burning fat as your muscle density increases.
- Mitochondria are the elements in cells which are responsible for producing energy. HIIT has been proven to increase mitochondrial density, which leads to an increase in metabolism and accessible energy.
- HIIT can lead to an increase in the release of hormones such as adrenaline and growth hormone. These are invaluable in cutting bad fat and growing good muscle, which is an exciting prospect for any aspiring fitness aficionado.
Where can I do HIIT training?
Don’t let the CrossFit guys fool you – you DON’T have to join a loud, expensive membership gym to efficiently access your most powerful HIIT maximisation. Your success with High Intensity Interval Training is entirely up to you and doesn’t require sharing a sweaty mat with a loudly-shouting-medicine-ball-guy. Unless you’re into that sort of thing…
In fact, with Trojan Health and Fitness equipment, you can perfect your brand-new HIIT body from the comfort of your own home. You can shop for Trojan products in Game and Makro stores near you. Your journey to beast mode with HIIT is one convenient shopping trip away. See you there!