Ramp Up Your Workouts With HIIT

High-intensity-interval training (HIIT) is a form of interval training involving short bouts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or less-intense activity. HIIT has become a buzz-word in recent years and is now more popular than ever with many fitness fanatics opting to replace long, less intense activities, such as jogging,  with the time-efficient principles of HIIT.

In 1996, a study from Izumi Tabata showed that just four minutes of maximal intensity exercise, performed in eight bursts of 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, could have a huge effect on the body. Surprisingly, subjects performing HIIT demonstrated as impressive improvements in their aerobic fitness as another group working for an hour at a moderate intensity.

The HIIT group trained for a total of 20 minutes for each five-day training week compared to the five hours endured by group two – yet produced similar results. As expected, the HIIT group also improved their anaerobic fitness – the ability to train longer at higher intensities.

Nearly twenty years on, everyone is name-dropping Tabata and using the 20/10 work-to-rest ratio during workouts and classes. But to be ‘true Tabata’ the sessions must mirror what was demonstrated in the lab: twenty seconds of maximal intensity effort followed by ten seconds of rest, performed eight times, – and that’s it. The workouts were completed on stationary cycles, but Tabata training lends itself well to sprinting, rowing and circuit style movements.

Interval training doesn’t end with Tabata. Variations on work and rest periods are almost unlimited, and exercises can be chopped and changed. The intensity should always be high, but not necessarily maximal.

A big benefit of HIIT training is the ‘after burn’ effect of a raised metabolic rate many hours after exercise. The thought of burning additional calories while asleep is enough to convince many to ditch the jogging and ramp things up.

Those new to exercise should start easy and not go ‘all in’ at maximal intensity or train on consecutive days. HIIT may not be suitable for the elderly or obese, who may benefit from a more comfortable route into fitness. But if you’re in reasonable shape, speak with one of our Personal Trainers about how to incorporate HIIT in to your training.