HIIT is all the hype lately. According to a survey conducted by The American College of Sports Medicine, it holds steady among the top fitness trends for 2017 (along with wearable tech and bodyweight training). So what’s this type of training all about? What is it with HIIT?
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. “A high-intensity workout increases the body’s need for oxygen during the effort and creates an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery,” says Eric Salvador, NASM, NSCA, head instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City. “This afterburn effect is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.”
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HIIT the Spot: The Benefits of Interval Training
Not totally convinced? Here are a few other benefits of HIIT.
1. Increases Your Metabolism
Combing high intensity with interval training results in EPOC, which speeds your metabolic rate and “translates into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours after a complete HIIT routine,” says Salvador. This means you’ll still be burning fat even after you’ve left the gym.
2. Quick and Convenient
Long gone are the days of not having enough time for exercise. HIIT workouts can be done anywhere: at home, in a hotel room, in a park, at the beach, etc. And most are 30 minutes or less! Who can’t spare that?
3. No Equipment Necessary
No dumbbells? Not to worry! HIIT workouts generally use only your body weight, since the focus is on getting your heart rate up and keeping it there. These workouts result in “optimal muscle building and muscle retention couples with fat loss and increased calorie burn,” says Salvador.
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Do-It-Anywhere HIIT Workout
Ready for a challenge? Try your hand (or full body, rather) at Salvador’s Do-It-Anywhere Chipper HIIT Workout. “The most beneficial use of this workout would be in conjunction with some loaded strength exercises,” says Salvador. “However, this is also an effective and extremely efficient workout that can be done anywhere when pressed for time.” Perform each exercise at 100 percent effort, with 30 seconds of rest in between. Repeat every other day with the goal of completing it faster each time.
Lay on your back, knees bent, with your feet on the floor (a). Tighten your core and using your abs, pull your head and back off the ground until you are sitting upright, with your back completely perpendicular to the floor (b). Pulling your abs in again, slowly lie back down into start position (c). Repeat.
40 Jump Squats
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms at your sides. Bend your knees, keeping them in line with your feet, and sit back into a quarter squat (a). Perform a small jump, and land back in your squat position (b). Repeat.
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Get into plank position, hands on the ground directly under your shoulders, legs about hip width apart (a). Keeping your elbows tucked against your sides and your body in a straight line, bend your elbows and lower your entire body until it almost touches the ground (or as far down as you can) (b). Return to start position (c). Repeat.
20 Split Jumps (Jumping Lunges)
Start with feet hip width apart, arms at your sides. Perform a small jump upwards while simultaneously moving your right leg forward and left leg backwards, landing in a lunge with right knee bent directly over your toes, left knee bent directly in line with your hip (a). Jump and at the same time reverse legs (b). Repeat.
10 Tricep Dips
Get onto all fours facing the ceiling, knees bent 90 degrees over your toes, hands on the ground under your shoulders, fingers facing forward, back straight so your core is parallel to the ground (a). Keeping your elbows tucked in, bend them to lower your butt as close to the ground as you can get (b). Push back up (c). Repeat.
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30 sec Burpees
Start standing. Place your hands on the ground and jump your legs backwards until they are fully extended, so you end up in a push up position (a). Quickly jump your legs back towards your hands (b). Stand up quickly and jump with hands raised up to the ceiling. Repeat immediately when you land the jump.
Originally published December 2013. Updated August 2017 and October 2021.
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