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What is a HIIT workout? And why should I do it?

High intensity interval training, (H.I.I.T.), is a great choice when trying to reach new exercise goals.  The benefits of H.I.I.T. are numerous and will vary depending on each individual’s baseline when starting a training program. Let’s take a look at what you should know before starting a program:

What is H.I.I.T.?  HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with low intensity recovery periods. A typical workout should be around 30 minutes and no more than 40 at maximum.  A good starting point is to exercise intensely for 20-30 seconds and then rest for double that amount of time. Example: If you do mountain climbers for 20 seconds you then rest for 40 seconds.

What are the main benefits of H.I.I.T?  Perhaps the main benefit of this modality is.  Studies show a H.I.I.T. workout can produce greater caloric expenditure in half the amount of time as traditional exercise methods such as running or weight lifting.  Other studies have shown H.I.I.T. to improve oxygen consumption, lower participants blood pressure and resting heart rate, and improve blood sugar levels. As mentioned before, the improvements each individual sees in their fitness levels and health will be influenced by their exercise and health history at the beginning of the program. Example: A person at risk for diabetes may see a much more significant change in blood sugar levels than a person who was not at risk beginning the program.

The following tips can help you create your own HIIT routine:

  • Pick a modality you’re familiar with at lower intensity. For example, don’t go all-out on running if you have not done any jogging lately.
  • If you deal with joint pain, begin with a lower impact modality such as cycling or swimming.
  • Take long enough rest periods. You can maintain sufficient intensity for HIIT only if you take rest periods equal to or longer than your work periods.
  • Keep work periods under 30 seconds. Work periods longer than 30 seconds will be difficult to sustain at the intensity required to count as HIIT.
  • Start with just a few cycles twice per week. HIIT training is very demanding, especially when doing higher impact modalities. Adequate recovery between training sessions is a must to avoid injuries.

Still not sure where to start? Jump on any Matrix cardio machine at La Maison Health & Fitness (treadmill, elliptical, or bike) and click the Sprint 8 button. Sprint 8® is an efficient, fat-burning sprint-intensity interval program that gives you a complete cardio workout, including warm-up and cool-down, in just 20 minutes.

Click here to watch a quick video where Jason Losey, our Fitness Director shows you step by step how to do this HIIT workout. It’s only 20 minutes, so it’s easy to fit into any busy schedule. 

So, get started today and be sure to share your results with us!