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Think back to your early 20’s when you had an hour or more of free time to spend at the gym numerous times per week – ah the “glory days!” With the welcome of a family, kids snacks and meal schedules, outside community obligations and maintaining a (semi-) functioning household exercise seems like a far-off wonderland. Spending an hour at the gym getting in your cardio and some weight training is a far-fetched proposition for many busy moms who work in or outside the home. This may also be true for an overscheduled teen with school club, academic or work activities. Well, you can stop worrying about how to fit in your gym time! Ever heard of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? This fitness routine is touted for saving time while still providing body composition changes, improving fitness, and metabolic factors (blood pressure, insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes, glucose parameters, etc). Seems too good to be true, right? Wrong – there are numerous research studies and scientific reviews that back up these claims (1,2,3)!
So, what is HIIT?
High intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is a type of workout with short bursts of high intensity exercise (think, max effort) interspersed between periods of rest or low intensity recovery (easy effort exercise). Training sessions that implement HIIT that show benefits in fitness and metabolic parameters last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, for a total workout time around 30 minutes when you include a warm-up and cool down. What are you waiting for? Pump up the jams and start one of the routines below.
How do I perform HIIT?
So you are sold on the time-savin’, fitness-boostin’ and heart-pumpin’ HIIT. There are numerous routines that implement HIIT and all of the methods below are beneficial. Pick and choose different methods to switch up your routine. Most research studies had subjects perform HIIT at least 3 times per week – that is just 90 minutes per week! Below are some of the different ways you can use HIIT.
After a dynamic warm-up perform one of the following (1,2):
|Wingate HIIT||Four to six 30-second sprints (on a bike against resistance) with 4 minutes of recovery.||~20 minutes|
|Modified HIIT||Ten 1-minute sprints at ~90% max heart rate (HR) with 1 minute recovery
Example: running in your neighborhood, speed walking if you are new to exercise, or burpees.
|Sprint-interval HIIT||10 sets of 6-second all-out sprints with 1 minute recovery
10 minutes at moderate intensityc with 2 bursts of 20 second all-out sprints.
|30-second Sprint-interval HIIT||8-12 bouts of 30 second max-effort sprints followed by 120-seconds of recovery||25-35 minutes|
|Standard HIIT||5-7 bouts of 150 seconds of high-intensity (hard effort, but not max) followed by 60-seconds of recovery||22-30 minutes|
|Tabata||1 set of 8x20s of single exercise (bodyweight movements or machine) interspersed by 10s of rest per session x 4x/week||4 minutes|
Where can I do HIIT?
Anywhere! While most studies have been performed on a bike or running, there is emerging evidence that standard bodyweight movements (burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or squat jumps/thrusts) are effective as well (1). If you do not belong to a gym or do not have home gym equipment do not worry! You can step out your front door or head to a safe park and perform HIIT while running. Set a timer on your watch or phone and get going! If you are new to exercise, try walking briskly at a hard pace or light jog, followed by easy walking for recovery. If you are running, vary the speed based on the length of the HIIT burst – the shorter the burst the harder you should be going!
Who is it for?
An exercise for the people, especially super busy moms trying to create a realistic work-out routine! Studies have been conducted on active, sedentary, healthy men and women, overweight men and women, those with coronary artery disease and people with Type 2 Diabetes. It really is an exercise for all! Be sure to consult your physician if you are new to exercise to make sure you are cleared to perform it.
Say “bye, bye” to the age-old excuse of “I don’t have time for exercise.” Lace up your sneakers and start moving. With HIIT being just as effective as moderate intensity exercise of longer durations, you are freed from the monotonous elliptical machine and boredom it may elicit. HIIT may work the same way that long duration endurance training does by signaling the same pathways in our body. Due to improvements in oxygen delivery to muscles from HIIT, overall fitness is improved. Studies also show that level of enjoyment is higher in HIIT versus moderate exercise – that’s right, you will enjoy your workouts more as you are acclimated to the new style. (4)