If you’re serious about transforming your fitness you can’t look past high-intensity interval training, aka HIIT. Featuring short, intense bursts of exercise followed by periods of recovery, the basic recipe is to go as hard as you can for a short period of time, rest, and then repeat.
This proven training method, particularly the use of the recoveries, allows you to keep reaching your maximum training zone again and again, shocking your body each and every workout.
Research shows just 20 minutes of HIIT leaves you burning fat for nine hours after the workout. It results in 9 percent more fat loss and is 17 percent more effective than steady state training.
So what’s not to love?
The thing is, HIIT is well… intense! It’s best served on top of a base level of fitness and other moderate exercise. To establish whether you should make HIIT part of your weekly exercise regime you need to know where you are in your fitness journey. You might fall into one of three categories:
- You’re totally new to fitness
In this case, jumping head-first into HIIT is almost definitely a bad idea. In order to get your body used to exercise and your fitness level up, we recommend 12 weeks of consistent moderate intensity exercise including strength, cardio and core/flexibility training each week. Check out our SMARTSTART guide for everything you need to know on building your base fitness. When you’re just starting out, frequency is more important than intensity, so take it slow and try to form some habits that will stick.
- You’re an intermediate exerciser
Once you have a base level of fitness the secret to ultimate fitness and results is not in adding volume, but intensity. Now is the perfect time to introduce HIIT to your existing schedule. Try replacing an hour a week of your normal training routine with 1-2 HIIT sessions, and watch your results soar! Check out the results of a group who did exactly this when compared to a group who carried on their normal training.
- You’re an experienced exerciser or athlete
The great thing about HIIT is that pushes you to hit your own maximum training zones every workout – there’s no cruising. So even if you are a super fit athlete, HIIT will still give your fitness a serious edge. Check out the results an elite womens’ soccer teams saw from adding just two HIIT sessions a week to their pre-season training.
How to hit the HIIT sweet spot
Thanks to the endorphin rush that goes hand-in-hand with HIIT it’s easy to get hooked on this style of training. But you shouldn’t do too much. New research reveals too much HIIT can do more harm than good – and optimal results come when you limit the time you spend with your heart rate above 90 percent maximum to 30-40 minutes per week.