Not many of us know that HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) is over a century old and we still don’t know how to explain what it is exactly. Aside from an intense burst of cardio and short rests, there’s more to it than you might think. Cardio workouts are great for your heart, lungs and muscles and switching it up from steady state training might be key to seeing results.
A Breakdown of HIIT
There’s a few main variables when it comes deciphering the elements of HIIT, the first is work and rest durations, with longer work periods generally being better for improving endurance and shorter ones better for power. Then there’s the intensity of the work periods and being able to sustain them. You need to know your target heart rate and stay at that level to keep it consistent throughout your entire workout.
The next is the type of exercise or lack of during rest periods. For best results you need to engage in active recovery, for example jogging on the spot as opposed to standing still. This can also flush out lactic acid for your next burst of exercise. Lastly, the focus is on how many intervals you are doing. If you’re doing too much, you won’t be able to maintain the intensity, so be realistic with your training.
The Benefits of HIIT
HIIT has a great number of benefits, with HIIT cardio you can burn fat, boost endurance, tone up and also increase cardiovascular fitness, when utilising explosive speed and strength. It may even be more effective than doing longer steady state workouts. Shorter workouts are rumoured to give you better results, even as few as three 10 minute sessions a week can improve metabolic health. Key benefits include:
- Improved performance: HIIT trains both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, building up stamina
- Improves insulin sensitivity: helps exercising muscles use glucose for fuel more efficiently
- Helps you burn belly fat: It may be more effective than other types of exercise when it comes to loosing an inch or two around the stomach area
- Increases your VO2 max: this is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use, useful when working for longer periods of time
- Great for burning calories: not only during the workout but also in the hours post-workout. The after-burn is rumoured to be 24 hours or even days (when the body is returning to its normal resting rate).
With HIIT however, you need to take it easy to start with, prepare to be uncomfortable as you work at an intense level. With HIIT also, you only need to partake in around 1-2 workouts a week or you risk overtraining.
Why not try Tabata?
Try the famous routine, which involves 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds rest, repeated for four minutes. Tabata works best on a cardio machine or when doing simple body weight moves, such as press-ups or unweighted squats. Switch it up also by alternating exercises, for example press ups to jump squats or when using machines; a rower to a bike.
Accessories for your home HIIT workout
These versatile blood pumping balls, work an array of muscle groups, giving you a well-rounded workout. Incorporate Slam Ball exercises with sprints, press-ups, burpees, jumping jacks and various other exercises.
These are invaluable when building a strong core, use them you to stabilise your whole body. They allow for a great number of exercises, combining resistance training and sport-specific conditioning. Use them instead of free weights, while you squat, or take them with you to add some intensity to your sprints.
Kettlebells have great cardio benefits, working lots of different muscle groups at one time – they’re great if you want to focus on the glutes, hamstrings and upper body. There’s numerous exercises you can do with just one kettlebell – they incorporate dynamic, compound explosive movements, ideal for short bursts of exercise.
Incredible for the upper body, use this during your HIIT workout to target those muscle groups. As you slam the rope up and down you’re also activating the glutes, calves and hamstrings, so ensure a well-rounded workout. Try out all the exercises on offer – Bicep Wave, Lateral Whip, Outside Spiral, Lying T, Jumping Slam.
Pair the accessories with each other or with a range of different exercises for a complete HIIT circuit.
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