HIIT, also known as high intensity interval training is one of those terms being tossed around in the fitness industry in a pretty loose manner.
But what’s the truth about this exercise and who is HIIT good for?
There’s no doubt that this all out, high intensity way to exercise can produce fantastic results. And those results come much quicker than the slow and steady traditional workout methods we’ve all been taught.
With less than 30 minute workouts 2 or 3 times a week compared to hours of traditional workouts you can:
- Burn far more calories
- Lose more fat
- Keep your metabolism elevated for hours
- Increase the oxygen consumption in your body
- Possibly gain muscle mass
- Lower high blood pressure
- Get fit and healthy in general with less time spent exercising
The effectiveness of high intensity training cannot be overstated… but… and there’s a big but here — it’s not for everyone.
Who is HIIT Good For?
Here’s the core of exercising with HIIT:
You exercise as fast and hard as possible for seconds or minutes, depending on the type of exercise you are using, (which can be most anything), and then you slow the pace down until you catch your breath.
Then you go again, with only seconds or minutes to rest in the less intense recovery period.
As the name implies: this style of exercise goes all out with very intense burst and then short intervals of rest – repeating the process for up to 30 minutes.
Because it gets your heart rate up for extended periods of time and creates a an oxygen shortage in your body, the fat burn can literally last for 24 hours.
But who who should use high-intensity-interval-training?
1. People Who are Already Into Regular Exercise
If you are already going to the gym, running, walking, or in pretty good physical shape — you could benefit greatly from HIIT training.
When I first started including HIIT into my workout time I was in good enough shape to sprint all out uphill on a treadmill for 10 seconds and then slow down to a walk for 10 seconds.
To tell you the truth it took me longer than I expected to get to sprinting all out for the original goal of 20 seconds and 10 second rest periods — for 15 minutes.
The thing about HIIT training is this: every person has different levels they can put out, and different work/rest intervals.
But whatever your personal exertion rates are, they need to be all you can put out.
It’s this all out burst of exertion that makes this exercise work, because this is what gets your heart rate elevated and creates an oxygen deficit.
That makes this training hard work for short periods of time, and you should be already accustomed to the demands of exercise before you begin.
However, even if you aren’t working out regularly you can still take full advantage of interval training.
That is, by using good sense and starting out very slowly and going at a logical pace that suits your own fitness level.
2. People Not obese and Not Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
The key to succeeding with HIIT is to first develop the habit of exercise.
Like any exercise program, I always say there’s no point in torturing yourself for a few sessions and then quitting.
The truth is this: if you are alive and mobile, you should exercise 5 days a week for no less than 30 minutes — even if you never include HIIT.
Exercise isn’t walking from one end of a plant to the other all day, either.
Here’s How to Start Doing HIIT From Nothing
Start walking for 30-60 minutes a day 5 days a week.
Like doing any exercise, you need to allow your body rest days. So only walk any 5 days a week, and they need not be consecutive.
The pace should be, or work up to be, vigorous enough to know you are exercising.
Walking at the same pace you shop through the mall is better than nothing, but not much?
You need to walk fast enough to get your heart rate elevated, but still be able to carry on a conversation.
Making walking, or any other exercise, a regular part of your lifestyle will be enough to get your body burning calories, causing fat loss, and getting fit enough to workout with HIIT.
To lose weight remember to cut back on your calories. ( You can’t exercise enough to overcome bad eating habits)
You’ll need discipline to workout regularly and to tailor your diet accordingly.
And these initial steps are necessary to make exercise a regular part of your life and build your self-discipline.
During this process, you’ll start losing weight and the pressure and impact on your joints and muscles will diminish.
Keep at your regular exercise until you notice that your results are starting to taper off — and they will.
That means your body is adapting and becoming more efficient to get you through your workouts.
Depending on your age, weight, and fitness level, it should take several weeks to several months to get ready for HIIT at any appreciable levels of exertion and time.
However you are doing your regular exercise, at some point you will start to feel that you have more strength and stamina.
This is the time to start slowly involving HIIT into your exercise once or twice a week.
It’s all baby steps here. Increase the intensity till you’re mildly uncomfortable.
You’ll still be sweating, panting, and your heart rate will be higher.
It will be more than what you’re accustomed to, and that is definitely the point.
This is how you ‘season’ your body and get it ready for the actual high intensity training.
Always remember that you can’t out train a bad diet.
So, make sure your diet is on point and you’re eating clean.
When you’re expending more calories than you consume, you’ll shed the fat and your HIIT workouts will improve.
It’ll be less of a struggle to move fast.
Slowly increase the number of sessions till you’re doing 2-3 full HIIT sessions a week that last from 10 – 30 minutes.
How To Get Even More Results
If by now you are getting into exercising and want to see even more phenomenal results:
o resistance training on the days you aren’t doing HIIT training, and make sure and take a day for rest.
The goal is to make continued progress and keep getting faster and raising the intensity.
In 2 to 3 months, you’d have improved so much that you won’t be able to believe it.
Now you’re ready to go all out and exercise at maximum intensity.
You’ll be leaner, have the self-discipline to stick to your training schedule and you’ll be a lot fitter.
That’s how you do it.
Who Shouldn’t Do HITT
1. Obese People
If you’re overweight or morbidly obese, you really don’t want to start off with HIIT.
There are several reasons for this:
For starters, you’ll be carrying a lot of weight which will place immense stress on your joints.
If you’re overweight and doing jumping lunges and skater hops, you could well injure your knees.
2. People not accustomed to regular exercise
Over and above that, there’s a lot of people who are simply living a very sedentary lifestyle.
This related post about HIIT for Beginners will help you see how to work up to high-intensity-interval-training with steady state cardio.
If you adopt HIIT as your training protocol from the get-go, you’re going to suffer.
The workouts will be insanely hard for someone not used to exercise, it will feel torturous, and you’ll start dreading your workouts.
Guess what happens after that?
Your mind will start cooking up excuses to prevent you from training.
This is your mind’s self-preservation mechanism. It knows that the workouts are all out exercise and will start making all sorts of excuses to stop exercising altogether.
The end result is that you start skipping your workouts… and soon you stop exercising totally.
Now you’re back to square one and no better off.
Worse off, really, with nothing but trying to figure out how to get over sore muscles from your 1 or 2 training sessions.
You can’t get around the fact that High-intensity-interval-training is the most efficient method to get your exercise.
You won’t burn as many calories during your exercise as some other forms.
However, after doing HIIT for 15 minutes, your calorie burn will go on for many hours which makes it the most efficient calorie burn form of exercise.
HIIT will provide you with great health benefits and weight loss in a much shorter time than traditional exercise techniques.
As for who can do HIIT, only you know the answer to that, but the fact remains that it’s a good way to get your exercise.
When it comes to who it’s good for, I believe it the best way to exercise for anyone fit enough to do it.