What if we told you that you could get a great workout in 20-30 minutes with or without the use of equipment? For busy professionals and parents, spending an hour or more in the gym is often a struggle. Short, but intense workouts may be the only way for you to have a consistent fitness routine that will keep you healthy. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the most effective and time-efficient ways to exercise.
An HIIT session can be constructed in a few ways. I can consist of short periods of high intensity activity, followed by brief periods of lower intensity exercise or "working rest." It can also be structured as 4-5 short exercises performed at max effort followed by a very brief rest period (usually one minute or less). This is then repeated a given number times until the workout ends. These sessions typically don't last longer than 30 minutes, but can be shorter. The fact that the body is working hard with little to no rest is what allows HIIT to be so effective in a short amount of time.
There are a ton of benefits of HIIT, but here are just a few that show why you should be incorporating it in your fitness routine.
HIIT keeps your fitness routine from getting stale because it provides more variety than the treadmill and can be applied to almost any form of exercise. Weight lifting, running, military style exercises, gymnastics and much more can all be done in HIIT form, and you don't even need equipment or a gym.
We have already discussed how HIIT is a time saver, but it is truly amazing how much more efficient it is than longer, low intesity cardio sessions. This study in the Journal of Physiology discovered that men performing 40-60 minutes of cycling at 65% of max effort three times per week saw the same results as men who did interval sprints three times per week for sessions lasting less than 12 minutes.
HIIT is great for weight loss because it kicks your metabolism into overdrive and improves your aerobic endurance, all while building muscle. While steady cardio only helps your ability to run long distances, an HIIT program that incorporates intense strength and cardio exercises will help you get leaner, stronger and faster.
Here is a simple 25 minute HIIT workout. Do the circuit below in order five times, resting for 60 seconds after jumping rope.