HIIT or High Intensity Interval training can help to burn fat, build lean muscle, increase endurance and improve body health in general. It has been found that HIIT sessions can reverse progression of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. HIIT workouts can be for a duration of just 4 minutes or last up to 30 minutes. It’s perfect for those who lead a hectic lifestyle and do not find the time for long workouts, and thus do not have any exercise program at all. If you too have no time to go to the gym, you can start a 4-15 minutes HIIT workout regime which will rejuvenate you and keep you in good health. You can devise your own HIIT workout too.
Here’s a short guide to let you know all about it, the exercises as well as some apps which you can download on your phone.
Guide to HIIT workout
Let’s start with the basics – what is it all about?
What is the HIIT workout?
HIIT workout is a high intensity workout which increases your heartbeat , 70-90 maximum heart rate and has rest intervals with 60-65% ,maximum heart rate.
This workout is perfect for people who are extremely busy, as it can be done in just a few minutes. A Tabata workout duration is just for 4 minutes! It’s also for the people who hate exercising, but know that they have to do some form of exercise to maintain their health. One needs to give a 100% to a high intensity exercise, rest, then perform another exercise. These workouts should not be continued for a long duration, say around 60 minutes, as it might damage the body.
In this guide to your own HIIT workout, you will be able to select the kind of exercise which you find most enjoyable, and which you can do regularly, without feeling bored or being fatigued. You will be able to meet your fitness goals easily, and start leading a healthy, fit life. Your mental and emotional health too will improve with the burst of feel good hormones that your body will release while performing the exercises.
Essentials of HIIT workout:
In HIIT, you have to workout at a high pace for about 20 to 30 seconds then rest for 20 to 30 seconds, then perform the exercise again. Some HIIT workouts require to exercise for some minutes before a break. You have to choose the exercises . These exercises increase the heart rate and have been found to be better than steady-state cardio. The work-rest formula optimizes burning of fat and builds more lean muscles, while improving the aerobic fitness and sports performance. There are a few things to note before you start to create your own HIIT workout.
Use a heart rate monitor
The most important aspect of HIIT is monitoring your heart rate. You can do this with a help of heart rate monitors, especially if you are a beginner. The monitors are in the form of watches or other cool wearable gadgets. Some of these gadgets can help you connect to a worldwide HIIT training community which would help to know more about it, and whether you are doing it right. Tip: Take your heart rate right after waking up, before starting any strenuous activity, as it will be your base rate on which you have to build your HIIT zone.
The American College of Cardiology has published a study wherein the formula to calculate the maximum heart rate (MHR) was given as:
(208 – (age * 0.7)) x 70 percent = low zone
(208 – (age * 0.7)) x 85 percent = high zone
Your optimal HIIT zone will lie between your low zone and the high zone. Beginners and people who are not used to high intensity workouts should stay below the 85% range.
Things to consider before creating your HIIT workout
There are a few things you should know before you develop your own HIIT routine:
The target body area
Establish the areas of the body which you want to work on, before formulating your exercise routine. This will help you choose body area specific exercises and when you see these areas improve after targeted exercise, you will be motivated to stay on your fitness plan.
Start with a few low intensity exercises as this will warm up the body, and then continue with the HIIT.
The duration of the workout is another important aspect before devising your own HIIT routine. Most HIIT routines last anywhere between 8 minutes to 60 minutes, but experts suggest 8-15 minute workouts for beginners. Calculate the time for workout according to your schedule, and which will be easier to fit in your busy life.
But before jumping into HIIT straightaway, you have to improve your general fitness, especially if you are not in the habit of exercising at all. Start by walking, cycling on stationary bike or jogging, or something which can be accomplished easily at home.
When the fitness levels and endurance increases, then you might plan for a HIIT routine of approx 15 – 20 minutes duration.
While planning own HIIT workout, you should think of your body, and select something which is not tortuous but intense. For example, Burpees for one minute is not intense, but highly demanding. So do them for 20 second then have a 20 second rest/interval period and start again. For Tabata, you could exercise for 20 seconds with a 10 second interval and then do a set of eight for best results.
The point is, that if you rest for too long, the exercises won’t have the desired effect and if you rest too less, then you won’t be able to give a 100% to the next exercise.
The HIIT routine has to be challenging, but also be realistic and choose the exercises which are in tune with your body’s abilities.
The trajectory of HIIT exercises and examples
The exercises should be a mix of plyometric as well as strengthening exercises, sprints as well as toning moves. There is a huge range of HIIT exercises to choose from which makes it such a flexible and versatile workout, and therefore you can create your own HIIT workout.
Warm up exercises will prepare the body for HIIT. Exercises which include the bigger muscles of the body or which loosen the stiff joints should be done first of all, for about 5 minutes. Hip circles, arm circles, torso rotation, etc are usually the preferred warm up exercises.
As you feel your body loosening up, you have to perform the exercises in your main workout, but at a much slower pace. This will help you learn the exercises and do them right when you increase the pace. This set has to be done at a constant pace for 5 minutes.
During HIIT, the body releases energy at a very fast pace. After the specific warm-ups, you have to start the pre-HIIT exercises which are just below the anaerobic threshold. These should be done for 3 seconds without rest for 5 minutes.
Now you have to push your body hard and exercise as fast as you can for 20 seconds. Then rest for 10 second to get your breath back and then do them again for 8 rounds to get the maximum benefits. Do this for 4 minutes.
These exercises are crucial. After completing the excruciating HIIT moves, you should do some recovery exercises which will keep the blood pumping and also allowing the heart to slow down gradually. At this stage, you can do the warm up exercises for 4 minutes.
Stretching is done to return the muscles to their former length before workout, as a workout tends to shorten the muscles. Stretch the muscles you worked out for 5 minutes.
HIIT is taxing on the heart/cardiovascular system, nervous system and muscles. So lie down on the floor, close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out. You will feel like a new person after doing this for 5 minutes. Do allow yourself the time for relaxation after HIIT when you design your own HIIT workout.
Examples of HIIT exercises
Treadmill HIIT workout
After the whole body and specific warm-ups, you can get on the treadmill and start the HIIT workout. Start at a low speed and then walk or run intensely for about 20-30 seconds then rest till heart reaches 60-65% range, then start again. You should be comfortable with your machine so that you are able to transition smoothly between the work and rest.
Bodyweight training exercises such as planks, squats, jumps and lunges are considered to be excellent workouts.
Upper body HIIT exercises
Push-ups are the best exercises for burning fat and muscle building. These unassuming push-ups are actually quite strenuous and are great for the body.
Up and down plank
This variation of plank uses the body weight for muscle building. It is a challenge to do this move for a long durations. It is a good exercise for beginners as it can be modified and made simpler by keeping knees on ground.
This works on the upper abs as well as obliques.
Working the core
While designing your own, complete HIIT workout, you have to include exercises for the core.
This group of exercises will get rid of extra fat in the lower abs. They look easy but are actually quite difficult. To make it more challenging, hold a lightweight dumbbell between the feet.
Lower body exercises
To tone your lower body, start with the jump squats which fall in the plyometric category. These exercises will require you to propel the body into air, and this body-weight exercise does wonders for fat burning.
This is great for the hamstrings and quads and you can do it with dumbbells if you want.
Total body exercises
This set of exercises works your arms, shoulder and abs and also increases the heart rate.
These increase the heart rate rapidly. You will have to move all the parts of the body in lowering hands to ground, jump to plank, then do a push up. Strenuous, but worth it!
A simple fun thing which you did as a child is now considered a great exercise to torch the calories.
This two-part exercise works the legs and arm and shoulders. It’s a comparatively easy HIIT exercise which can include in your own HIIT workout.
We have outlined just a few exercises which you can include in your workout. To get more of an idea, you can utilize the help of some very good apps for HIIT training.
J&J Official 7 minute workout
This app, designed by the Johnson and Johnson Human Performance Institute, has a list of 72 exercises. You can mix’n’match these exercises for an astounding 1,000 variations of workout. There are 22 preset HIIT workouts which can be used and you can even select a workout based on your level of fitness. The audio on the workouts is also quite helpful. It can be downloaded on both Android and iPhones.
Nike Training Club App (Free)
Free for iTunes and Android, this app has more than 175 workouts which increase your strength and enhance mobility. Chloe Kim and Serena Williams’ inspired workouts are demonstrated by the Nike master trainers. The videos are a great help to learn the exercises, and the app is best for both – at the beginning stage as well as you move on to higher stages.
Fitbit Coach (Free but has in-app purchases, compatible with Android and iTunes)
You will need a Fitbit or a Fitbit watch. The app recommends workouts according to your fitness levels as detected and analyzed by the device. Ranging from 7 to 60 minutes, the workouts are available with a personalized video as well as audio coaching. Your feedback is useful as it allows the app to recommend the next set of exercises for you.
HIIT workouts will work out for you as long as you put in your effort, but always start by doing a few warm-ups. A total of 20 minutes workout or even 15 minutes of it, along with recovery exercises, is enough to burn the calories and craft a new, lean and mean body!