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What Is HIIT?


High-intensity interval training uses bouts of high-intensity exercise alternated with short rest periods to maximize calorie burn and cardiorespiratory fitness in half the time of low-intensity steady state cardio. In other words, it gets you fit fast.




What Type of Training Methods Use HIIT?

Being able to knock out your strength and cardio workouts at the same time is one of the reasons HIIT is so popular. That's why most gyms and training studios offer some form of the workout in their class line-up. It's also really simple to do at home, as more and more fitness apps, YouTube videos and online training programs offer streaming interval classes.

While HIIT will likely be the term you hear most often, there are other workouts that are similar in nature that you should know about:



  • As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP): When this is part of a HIIT workout, you'll perform as many reps as possible of a specific exercise for a set amount of time.
  • Tabata training: Think HIIT but with very specific parameters. Four minutes in total, this workout consisting of eight rounds of 20-second max-effort bursts with 10-second rest periods between each.
  • Circuit training: A series of strength-based exercises, with no rest between each. The rest typically comes at the end of a circuit, and lasts for 30 to 60 seconds




Tips to Help You Get Started With HIIT

Before you get started, it's a good idea to have some basic knowledge about how to get started with interval training. Here are a few tips to consider when including it into your overall fitness routine.


1. Start Slowly

Since HIIT is geared toward a more intense workout, pacing yourself is critical — especially if you don't want to burn out or increase your risk of injury. One way to ease into these workouts is to vary the intensity (aka your speed or the amount of weight you lift), work or rest periods, total workout duration and number of exercises you complete, Go at your own pace, and progress when you're ready.

 2. Find the Right Schedule

Aim for one or two days each week for a total of 15 minutes each session. As your body adapts, you can slowly increase the total time of your workout to 30 minutes. If you still want a challenge, then  you can add one more day of HIIT to your overall fitness plan.

3. Focus on Full-Body Movements

Focus on exercises that work your entire body at your current fitness level or just slightly above it,


4. Pay Attention to Signs of Overtraining

HIIT workouts place a lot of stress on your muscles, cardiovascular system and immune system. If you're performing too many HIIT sessions each week, you may find that you're headed down the path to overtraining. Some of the more common red flags to be aware of include decreased performance, excessive fatigue, restlessness, an increase in exercise-related injuries, agitation and moodiness.

If you're experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, reduce the amount of exercise you're doing, or rest completely. Talk with your doctor if any of the signs of overtraining continue to persist.

5. Fuel Your Body for More Intense Workouts

Making sure your body is properly fueled before a workout is essential, especially for a beginner. To maximize energy, Larsen recommends you aim to eat a light meal one to two hours pre-exercise consisting of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. Then, opt for a or meal within an hour of finishing your session post-workout snack


Try This Body-Weight HIIT Workout for Beginners

Ready to get fit with HIIT? This cardio-focused HIIT session from Swift includes five exercises: mountain climbers, jump squats, push-ups, speed skaters and burpees.

Do: Each exercise for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Do six rounds of each exercise before moving on to the next, with a one-minute rest in between moves.

  • Mountain climber
  • Jump squat
  • Push-up
  • Speed skater
  • Burpee

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Edited and updated by Steve Stone 

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