High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become a popular, mainstream training mode that offers many benefits both for fitness and health.
Is it just a trend or is there really something going on here?
“Why should I do HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)?”
This is a good question and one that gets asked a lot, so I will try to give you a good and thorough answer below, if however, you are still looking for further answers and information then please do not hesitate to get in touch via social media, or you can email me at email@example.com
I have written about HIIT workouts before, Olympic Lifts & HIIT and Train Less For More but here I want to go into a little more detail on what it will do for your body’s fitness, strength and health. It is also a very time efficient and productive way to train.
“Time, is it the most valuable commodity?”
Maybe, but let’s face it if we could bottle time we would never need to worry about not having enough time ever again. We seem to have less time than ever to do things despite having so many time-saving gadgets and gizmos at our disposal.
Work, family, hobbies and various other commitments all eat into our time and something generally has to give. Most of the time it’s something that we know we need to do but don’t necessarily want to do (as it involves time, sweat and maybe a little discomfort).
Most of us as parents also find that we neglect ourselves in looking after our children, other halves and even our own parents. But we forget that in order to do our best for those that are most important to us we must be fit, well and able. We must make time to look after ourselves a little, not feel guilty at being a little selfish.
If time is the limiting factor then it is essential that you make the most of the time you create for yourself, and I say create because that’s what you have to do. That your training needs are carefully prioritised and that a plan is put in place to ensure you cover all of your health and fitness needs. This may mean that you will need to work out in such a way that you combine several training goals and fitness components into short, distinct programmes.
This could take the shape of HIIT workouts at home if that saves you time. HIIT exercises are many and varied making the workouts infinitely adjustable to suit your training needs, ability, equipment availability and time.
“What is HIIT Training?”
Let’s start by defining what a HIIT workout is – High-Intensity Interval Training involves short periods of hard work with short rest or recovery intervals in between.
It has also been called HIIE (High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise) or SIT (Sprint Interval Training) with this latter version associated more often with field sports conditioning and cardiovascular training.
HIIT is very anaerobic in nature and will certainly challenge you but it is a shorter workout in general than most set and rep type sessions.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and circuit-type workouts like Crossfit and Metafit work well in this scenario. Strength gains, a metabolic boost, calorie afterburn, increased cardiovascular fitness, as well as various health benefits, are all achievable through HIIT.
“These are all possible from just a 20 to 30-minute workout.”
A weekly plan should not be all HIIT though, some steady-paced conditioning work and some strength training based around the compound lifts should also be included in your programme. These alternative sessions can still fit into that 20 to 30-minute training window.
As with many things there are variations that need to be recognised and one that I feel is important to note is the resistance training version of HIIT called HIRT (High-Intensity Resistance Training), some would say it does HIRT (sic) as does all high-intensity training if done as prescribed. However, like HIIT, HIRT is an excellent way to train with many similar benefits to HIIT.
“Can I build muscle doing HIIT workouts?”
Absolutely! Have you seen the shape of some of those Crossfit athletes? These guys and girls are in great shape and the majority of their workouts are HIIT/HIRT based. As long as your muscle is put under the appropriate training stress to overload it with a resistance of some kind then it will adapt and grow.
HIIT will not elicit maximal hypertrophy or maximal strength, to achieve these goals you will need to follow a specific training programme with appropriate nutrition as well. That being said, if you are looking to maximise the benefits of any training programme then good nutrition and recovery strategies are essential.
Progressive Overload is a training principle that has been around and understood for a long time. Milo of Croton, a 6th-century Greek wrestler lifted a newborn calf onto his shoulders and repeated this every day as the calf grew until some 4 years later Milo was lifting a bull!
This is a story that is often used as an anecdote to progressive loading and can be applied to traditional strength and hypertrophy training as well as HIIT and Crossfit type workouts.
“Can I get fitter as well as stronger doing HIIT workouts?”
Definitely! HIIT will place a huge demand on your cardiovascular system as well as generate huge amounts of lactate. This will increase your lactate tolerance and raise your lactate threshold; both of which are important for improving anaerobic and aerobic fitness.
Using resistance such as barbells, dumbells as part of your HIIT workout will help increase your strength endurance, boost your metabolism and increase your calorie burn!
“What are the health benefits?”
HIIT workouts have been shown to help reduce the risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular and coronary artery disease as well as atherosclerosis. There is also evidence that HIIT can increase arterial elasticity which decreases with age.
HIIT/HIRT style training will not only increase your strength, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, it will also help to reduce your body fat along with a sensible and appropriate eating plan.
“Should I only do HIIT workouts?”
Not necessarily, you can as there is enough variety in HIIT to ensure you don’t get stale, bored or stop adapting to the training. You will need to ensure appropriate recovery as this type of training is very intense by nature and as such needs a longer recovery time than some more traditional training methods.
In my opinion, and I know a lot of coaches echo this, it is better to use HIIT/HIRT along with other training modalities within your workout plan.
However, HIIT can also be incorporated into a strength or endurance workout plan as well and in fact, will add considerably to both. It is an extremely versatile way to train as the equipment you use varies, there are bodyweight options if travelling for business or pleasure, and you don’t need a huge amount of space for most of the workouts!
“How will I stay motivated if they are so tough?”
The great thing about most of the HIIT workouts is that they have some sort of target. This is usually in the form of working out for a set time i.e. 40s work 20s rest for 10 sets, so you know you have to keep moving during the work efforts; another example would be having a set number of reps to complete as quickly as possible for the given exercises i.e. 15, 12, 10, 8, 5 of each exercise.
Seeing your times come down or your reps and loads increase will keep you motivated as it shows you are definitely getting fitter and stronger!
There are lots of free programmes and plans available on the internet. However, these will be either generic or copied straight from a high-level athletes training blog post which would be unsuitable for most of us. For a time-efficient programme to be effective it must be designed specifically for the individual, for you.
As you can see there are many options, variations and benefits to HIIT workouts and that you don’t have to make too many changes to your current workout plan in order to incorporate them.
To find out more about HIIT and how to plan your training get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or to get more HIIT workouts and challenges subscribe The HIIT Works by Get Coached.
The HIIT Works by Get Coached is a closed membership group that provides generic workouts and challenges as well as bespoke programmes, coaching, nutrition and lifestyle advice. To find out more you can visit my website www.getcoached.net where you will find more information on The HIIT Works, check out the membership options here! You can also leave your contact details to find out more and join The HIIT Works by Get Coached.