This post is dedicated to explaining in a simple manner what high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is and why I choose to implement it as part of my regular workout routine.
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training is a specific type of exercise routine geared towards those looking for an exceptionally effective fat-burning and metabolism-boosting workout regimen. The concept behind HIIT is simple: increase the overall intensity of your workout session and lessen its duration. On average my workout sessions fall between the 20-25 minute range and never go beyond 30 minutes. When it comes to fat loss, the results of this method will be significantly greater than if you were to do the opposite and increase the amount of time you workout but lessen the intensity. This is because HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise that, among other benefits, significantly boosts your metabolism during and even for a while after your workout to keep you continuously burning fat.
For overall faster results on a weekly basis, I recommend implementing 1 HIIT session per day for 3 or 4 days a week and doing lighter (less intense) workouts the rest of the days. I usually leave about 1 or 2 full days of rest each week for recovery purposes. You may need the same or more depending on just how intense/long you choose to make your HIIT sessions – but always give yourself at least 1 full day of rest a week.
Here’s an example of what a full week looks like for me:
Saturday: Rest or light workout
What does a HIIT workout routine look like?
To begin, select a group of exercises to implement throughout the entire routine. I usually go with 4 or 5 exercises total. Each individual exercise will be performed for a total of 12-15 repetitions. For instance, you would do 12-15 push-ups before transitioning directly into the next exercise. Each completed exercise will lead into the next without rest, until you run through all of the exercises. The completion of all exercises back to back is 1 full round. After a completed round rest for 1 minute.* Repeat this process for a total of at least 3 full rounds to complete your HIIT session.
*Tip: During rest time, really focus on leveling out your breathing and slowing down your heart rate in preparation for the next round. However, make sure not to let your heart rate slow down too much as it will defeat the purpose of this type of training.
Here’s an example of a single round of HIIT using this method:
-Exercise 1: Push-ups (12-15 reps)
-Exercise 2: Squats (12-15 reps)
-Exercise 3: Pull-ups (12-15 reps)
-Exercise 4: Lunges (12-15 reps each leg)
-Rest for 1 minute before beginning Round 2
What equipment do you need?
You may prefer to include weights (dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls) as part of your HIIT routine, keeping to the amount of repetitions, but for simplicity’s sake I prefer to stick with body-weight exercises only. Therefore I have only 3 pieces of equipment that I currently use for HIIT:
- TRX ( A rope-like suspension-training system)
- Iron Gym (A pull-up bar that mounts to your door frame)
- Perfect Pushup (A set of handles for increased range of motion when doing push-ups)
Note: You do not need any equipment at all to successfully complete a HIIT session. Exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, burpees and jumping-jacks can all be done without the use of anything but the weight of your own body – and they can be extremely effective. A quick online search of body-weight exercises will give you a long list of ones to choose from as well as how to implement each one properly.
One thing I definitely recommend is keeping a timer nearby to track the length of your workout and give you a sense of urgency as you make your way through each round. Take note of how long it took you to complete all rounds and use that to make any adjustments to the number of rounds/level of intensity for your next HIIT session.
Why do I prefer HIIT?
I have been sticking to high-intensity interval training for a long time now for 3 specific reasons.
- It is an extremely effective fat-burning method that, in terms of time, does not ask much of you at all. I can’t ever lie to myself and say, “Man, I just didn’t have enough time squeeze in a workout today”, which is an excuse many of us love to turn to on a regular basis. In that aspect HIIT always asks very little of you.
- In combination with healthy eating, I am capable of achieving and maintaining my ideal physique through HIIT. Using this routine on a regular basis will leave you with a lean/toned athletic-type body. I have always said I’m a lover, not a fighter, so strength training means very little to me – at least in physical terms. Mentally, HIIT will, without a doubt, put your strength to test and with each completed session your ability to push yourself through such intense workouts will only increase. You will learn to discipline yourself and stay motivated, rep to rep, exercise to exercise, round to round – until you actually look forward to and seek ways to further increase the intensity of each session. More importantly for me, the result of maintaining a healthy body/mind is increased mental clarity – a necessary contribution to one’s state of consciousness.
- It never gets boring! There doesn’t have to be any kind of repetitiveness to your HIIT sessions on a day to day basis. The focus is not so much on what you do (in terms of exercises) but HOW you do it – and the “how” is dependent entirely upon the intensity of the session.
What HIIT is Not: The Deeper Message
I would like to make it very clear that the HIIT method is not a quick fix solution to any weight loss issues you may have. The deeper message behind HIIT is this: What you give during your HIIT session – in terms of intensity and overall effort – largely determines what you will receiveas a result – in terms of fat loss/increased metabolism and ultimately the physique you wish to achieve. The only one you’re cheating when you don’t give each session your all, is yourself! With time, this will prove to be true on its very own.
Proper Nutrition is a Must!
I would also like to clarify that to see physical results, and see them fast, you will have to be conscious of the foods you choose to consume throughout the day. You may be getting that metabolism boost from HIIT but the results won’t show unless you further assist yourself by choosing to eat cleaner/lighter meals on a regular basis. This way your body spends less time breaking down/storing the fat you take in and more time using up the fat you already have for energy. Due to the intensity of each workout, adequate hydration is also key so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during and after your HIIT session.
Overall, when it comes to fat-burning, I highly recommend this type of training so long as you are unhindered by any medical conditions that may affect the intensity of your workouts. If you’re up for the challenge take a bit of time to set up your routine and go for it! The HIIT example I provided is just one of the many ways to approach this type of training. I highly encourage you to search further into HIIT if you are interested and to make any type of modifications to this or other routines you may come across. Again, always give your attention to the “how” more than the “what”. Of course, feel free to comment below with any questions you may have for me regarding HIIT or anything else related to this post!