Searching for the most efficient way to get lean, get conditioned and get tough? Look no further than HIIT. We can’t promise it’s easy, but it sure gets results.
HIIT is excellent for:
- losing body fat (while retaining lean body mass)
- strengthening the cardiovascular system
- developing sport-specific energy systems
- developing “work capacity” (i.e. the ability to tolerate a high level of intensity for a longer period)
- getting in a workout with limited time constraints
- improving fat and carbohydrate oxidation in skeletal muscle
- developing “mental toughness”
- making you an overall badass!
- challenging the fast twitch muscle fibers — the fibers that are great for strength, power and looking buff
What does HIIT mean, exactly??
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.
OK, but WHAT is THAT??
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is when you alternate between high and low intensity exercise(s) or between high intensity exercise and a short period of rest.
For example, a short sprint up a flight of stairs followed by a walk back down is interval training. Or a set of burpees followed by bodyweight rows.
So, HOW does it work?
It’s physiologically impossible to sustain maximal intensities during exercise for an extended amount of time. This is because of how our bodies use fuel.
Let’s say I tell you to go outside and run as fast as you can for 20 minutes. It’ll probably go something like this…
Stage 1: OK! The first 10 to 20 seconds are going great! You’re sprinting like the wind! That’s because you’re using a high-intensity energy source known as phosphocreatine.
Stage 2: After about 20 seconds, your phosphocreatine start to run low and anaerobic glycolysis would predominate. At this point, more lactic acid would be produced and used as a fuel source.
You’re still be running as hard as you can, but you’d be slowing down and your lungs are working overtime.
If you were an Olympic or professional athlete, you could probably maintain this for up to 10 minutes. But those who are not well conditioned would need to slow down and even stop. (If this is your first time off the couch, you might even consider throwing up, thanks to the change in blood pH levels.)
So why can’t you work at maximal intensity for an extended amount of time?
One word: Oxygen. Nature is full of trade-offs. In this case, we trade efficiency for intensity when it comes to the supply & demand of our oxygen supply.
With HIIT, you alternate short bursts of very intense exercise (such as 10-20 sec of sprinting) with periods of lower intensity (such as 1 min of walking).
- The higher intensity periods create a metabolic demand that is very effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning using anaerobic energy.
- The lower intensity periods let you recover and use the aerobic energy system.
How do I do HIIT?
There are many ways to do HIIT. All you need to remember is the basic principle: Alternate short bursts of very high intensity with periods of recovery/low intensity. High intensity intervals can last anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. Low intensity recovery periods can last anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or more.
If you’re new to HIIT, opt for shorter high intensity periods and longer low intensity periods. And remember,“high intensity” means “high intensity for YOU”.
How often should I HIIT?
Completing a HIIT workout multiple days in a row doesn’t leave your body much time to recover between sessions. Make sure you are getting at least 24-48 hour of recovery after a HIIT workout. If you’re applying HIIT to something specific like running, then once or twice a week is plenty. And if you CAN bust out multiple days per week of HIIT workouts, you’re likely doing it wrong or you’re risking injury.
At Wild, our program design department is always sneaking HIIT circuits into classes. Whether its a tabata circuit, compound stations using weighted exercises with a metabolic exercise, specialty classes like ‘Oh, S.H.I.I.T.’ and don’t forget our longest intervals class, RUN WILD. We’re always looking to maximize your workout for you… we got you, fam.