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  • Writer's pictureTomas Wurst

Get More Out of Your HIIT Sessions!

The popularity of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is phenomenal.

Yet, usually it is misunderstood and incorrectly applied. Get more out of your HIIT sessions by learning its basics

Why is HIIT Training So Popular?

HIIT training can easily be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions, such as overweight and diabetes. HIIT workouts can be performed on all exercise modes. HIIT workouts provide similar fitness benefits as continuous endurance workouts, but in shorter periods of time (benefits listed bellow). This is because HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially after the workout. The post-exercise period is called “EPOC”, which stands for excess postexercise oxygen consumption. This is generally about a 2-hour period after an exercise bout where the body is restoring itself to pre-exercise levels, and thus using more energy. Because of the vigorous contractile nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC generally tends to be modestly greater, adding about 6 to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure.

HIIT training benefits: Imnproves:

  • Aerobic and anaerobic fitness

  • Blood pressure

  • Cardiovascular health

  • Insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)

  • Cholesterol profiles abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass

How Do You Develop a HIIT Exercise Program?

When developing a HIIT program, consider the intensity, duration and frequency of the work intervals and the recovery intervals.

Intensity during the high intensity work interval should range ≥ 80% of your estimated maximal heart rate (HR). As a good subjective indicator, the work interval should feel like you are exercising “hard” to “very hard”. Using the talk test as your guide, it would be like carrying on a conversation, with difficulty.

The intensity of the recovery interval should be a physical activity that feels very comfortable (it can be just resting), in order to help you recover and prepare for your next work interval. I am rather not to give you HR percentages for the recovery intervals as your resting HR does variate dramatically depending on age, ability to recover (your recovery rate is indeed closely connected to your fitness levels) and the duration and frequency chosen.

As mentioned, the goal is to get the HR up during the high intervals. So, you need to choose the right exercises to do so. The most efficient exercises to raise you HR are the compound exercises.

What is a compound exercise? An exercise that utilises large muscle groups and multiple joints. Ex: Thruster, Front squat, burpees, etc. Why compounds exercises are better to raise HR? In simple words: Because while activating multiple muscle groups at the same time your hear is obligated to pump faster (increase its rate) in order to supply (oxygen, blood, nutrients, etc) to the muscles. Thereafter, you want to avoid isolated exercise (exercises with work on a specific muscle group or joint) while performing HIIT session (So leave your arm-curls and chest presses for a different time :)

Duration and frequency choices do depend on your unique fitness levels and needs. However, the following are the usual set ups while performing HIIT circuits: 2 to 4 circuits, including 3 to 4 compound exercises, performing 3 to 4 sets per exercise with a high intensity interval of 20 to 45 seconds follow by a low intensity or rest interval of 10 to 45 seconds. Ex:

Circuit 1

3 x 40seconds On (High Intensity) - 20seconds Off (Rest)

  • Dumbbell (DB) Thurster

  • Battlerope Burpees

  • Toes to bar

Circuit 2

3 x 40seconds On (High Intensity) - 20seconds Off (Rest)

  • Sprint

  • Bench jump

  • DB Single Arm Over Head Lunges

Please note the workout example above suits well intermedium to advance trainees and it would need to be extensively modified for beginners / special needs.

Tomás Würst

0414 460 406

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