What is HIIT? Questions and Answers
High Intensity Interval Training.
What is HIIT? HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. OK… So what does that mean? High Intensity means you work as hard as you can. And interval is a period of time. So, the high intensity work is done during a period of time between 20-60 seconds and then there is either an active rest or a full rest/recovery for 10-60 seconds. Training would be working out. Some athletes tend to use HIIT as cross training.
One form of HIIT is a Tabata. A tabata is 4 minutes of an exercise or two. You would work for 20 seconds as hard as you can then take a 10 second rest, then work again for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You would do 8 total rounds of that which comes to a total of 4 minutes. I have a couple of tabata workouts here on my blog. Here are a few examples. One is geared towards beginners and this one is a bit more advanced.
Advantages and Benefits of HIIT
- Burns more calories per minute than steady state cardio (aka treadmill or stationary bike)
- After workout burn – burns calories even after the workout
- Improved performance within workouts
- Time efficiency – these types of workouts are typically a shorter workout since you have less rest, you can get more done in a shorter amount of time.
So if you are short on time, this is a great type of workout to do! Each workout can be formatted to each individual.
What results are you looking for?
A great thing about HIIT is any one can do it. The exercises can be modified and progressed to each individual. Also, you can add it into any workout plan. Once you have a goal of what results you are looking for, you can make a workout tailored to you. If you are looking to lose weight, you could add a day or two of HIIT into your week with some strength days and cardio days.
How do I know I am doing a HIIT workout?
This is a very common question. How do you know if the workout is a HIIT workout? Well, these types of workouts can vary person to person. For example, if I wanted a cardio based workout where I didn’t have much time at all, I would do this workout or this one. If I wanted a more strength based workout, I could do this one and just up the intensity a bit more by adding weights. The best thing about this workout is you can time it and try to hit a certain amount of reps in 40 seconds or you could do this workout as a ladder.
Are there certain exercises that need to be part of a HIIT workout?
HIIT is so versatile. The main point with these types of workouts is to have high intensity, so you should give it all you can, and for that to be done in some sort of interval. A lot of popular HIIT workouts have high impact exercises. For example, squat jumps and burpees. But I have found you can get a great HIIT workout without all the impact. You just need to have a set interval and move! You could add an active recovery to keep your heart rate up too or lessen the rest in between the exercises.
How can we do HIIT safely?
Always check with your doctor before starting a new workout routine, especially if you have not been working out. Keeping HIIT workouts low impact (no jumping) in the beginning a great way to stay safe. Once you feel good enough to add jumps or more movement into your exercises you will be confident. Also, if you feel any pain, please stop the workout and talk to your doctor.
Does HIIT melt belly fat or build muscles?
One thing I have to say, there is no way to spot reduce fat. Believe me, I wish we could lose fat in some places and keep them in others (am I right, ladies?). But unfortunately, once you start losing fat, you will lose it from your entire body. So does HIIT melt belly fat? Yes and no. If you are eating at a caloric deficit and working out, you can lose fat and that fat can come from your belly (as well as everywhere else).
Can HIIT build muscles? Well, I do a lot interval training and I have built some muscles. I do not lift really heavy when I use weights. So yes, it can help to start to build muscles. You definitely can use heavier weights if you want to build more muscle or use lighter weights if that’s where you are more comfortable. Certain exercises I like to go heavier, like leg exercises but then upper body (where I am not as strong) I use lighter weights.