Elite athletes have used HIIT for decades to improve performance. Recreational athletes are turning to HIIT because of the dramatic results.
A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology demonstrated profound benefits of HIIT including:
- Improved aerobic fitness
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Reduced body fat and increased metabolism
- Shortened, more efficient exercise time
- Renewed interest in exercise (this isn’t boring)
Two popular HIIT methods are Tabata and the Little Method. Tabata uses eight cycles: 20 seconds of intense exercise, followed by 10 seconds of recovery, for a total of 4 minutes. The Little Method is 8-12 cycles; 60 seconds of intense exercise followed by 75 seconds of recovery. On the elliptical, you would go all out for the specified time, go easy, then repeat.
|Warm-up||5-10 minutes easy||5-10 minutes easy|
|Intense||20 seconds||60 seconds|
|Recovery||10 seconds||75 seconds|
|Repeat||8 times||8-12 times|
|Cool down||5-10 minutes easy||5-10 minutes easy|
|Interval time||4 minutes||18-27 minutes|
The above suggestions are a good place to start. As you get into HIIT you can create your own cycle of intervals. Try a ladder: Work hard for 1 minute, easy for a minute, next 2 minutes easy/hard, 3 minutes, then come back down. You can also sprint for a certain distance, say up to the tree ahead of you or for a quarter mile. As your fitness increases, you will notice the amount of time required to recover decreases, and that your intensity increases.
For All Sports
HIIT can be applied to most sports. The short amount of time needed to train makes it possible to get an amazing workout no matter what your day holds. Stuck at a volleyball tournament all weekend? Abandon the doughnut-eating parent crowd, find the stairwell, and run the stairs 10 times, recovering on the way down. HIIT is easy to adapt to machines at the gym, swimming, cycling, basketball and weight lifting. Stuck at home waiting for the cable guy? Use HIIT as you jump rope to make the best use of your time.
Before You Start
Include HIIT slowly at first, starting with shorter intervals, at a medium intensity level. As your body adapts to the training, increase the duration and intensity of the intervals. A few more tips:
- Record your progress to avoid overtraining and injury
- Limit HIIT sessions to 2-3 per week
- Complete a thorough warm up before each session
Few things in life can promise quicker and better, but HIIT is one of them. Shorten that 3-mile walk by including 1-minute intervals of fast walking to strengthen your heart and legs, skinny up your waist, keep things exciting and make you feel great all day.