HIIT has become a household name in the fitness community, with several workout enthusiasts vouching for its effectiveness. Short for high-intensity interval training, HIIT is a mode of exercise that has been making waves for many years due to the work required and the payoff acquired. Characterized by having short bursts of intense exercise and short recovery periods, hiit workouts are the perfect way to get results without spending too much time!
HIIT workouts are credited for being short, often lasting no more than 30 minutes, which makes them highly efficient. They put your body in a state of “overdrive” so that it continues to burn calories even after you finish. During the short 15 to 30 second period of exercise, you have to give your 100% to deprive your body of oxygen.
Once it is depleted, your body starts to function anaerobically and produces lactic acid to make up for the lack of oxygen. Lactic acid induces adrenaline production to help you power through your workout and promote fat burn and build muscle. Over time, your body may develop lactic acid tolerance, which allows you to work out longer before your muscles give out.
After exercising, your body will take some time restoring the nutrients and oxygen that you lost during the workout. Consuming carbohydrates can help refill your glycogen storage to refuel your body after strenuous exercises. Given the intensity of the exercises, your body is expected to continue burning fat even after the workout since your metabolism is still active.
The sustained popularity of HIIT is a testament to the fact that it works, as long as you do it the right way. Another great thing about this type of exercise is that you do not need any special equipment, gear, or training to do it.
So, what are you waiting for? If you have been experiencing a fitness slump, a HIIT workout may be just the answer to getting you pumped and motivated again!
HIIT Workouts: Short and Effective
If you have tried searching for some hiit workouts or asking your trainer about them, you may have noticed that they all run for about 20 minutes on average. Now, you may be wondering if a 20 minute HIIT workout is enough to get your desired results. The answer is yes! HIIT workouts are known for their efficiency as they are designed to be short but can deliver the same results as long workouts.
Many assume that 20 to 30 minutes will not be enough to yield significant results, but the intensity of HIIT workouts result in exponential payoff compared to other workouts. Doing 20 minutes of HIIT can be comparable to doing sustained exercises for 45 to 50 minutes.
The effort needed for HIIT workouts is essentially what makes them so effective, which explains why the exercise may not be effective if you do not put in your 100%. If you still feel like you can do another rep of the exercise after the 30-second interval, it means you are not yet giving your maximum effort.
Balancing High and Low Intensity Exercises
Now that it has been settled that a 20 minute HIIT workout can certainly generate the results you want, you may wonder about how often you should do them. Since hiit workouts are designed to push you to your maximum capability, it is not advisable to do it every day regardless of your endurance or stamina.
Even though you want to get quick results, you still have to give your body time to repair and restore itself after a strenuous workout. The average recommendation is to do HIIT training two to three times a week, which gives you ample time to work and rest your body. If you are a beginner, you can start with one to two times a week to give your body more time to recover.
HIIT can be physically demanding, but apart from that, you must also consider its potential effects on your mental health. When doing high-intensity exercises, you subject your body to stress, which can mix with other stressors and cause a mental burnout. It is therefore important to maintain a healthy balance between high-impact and low-impact exercises.
Best HIIT Exercises
If you are new to HIIT, you do not need to push or force yourself to give 100% immediately. Try opting for longer intervals of high-intensity exercises, use about 80% of your effort, and then slowly transition to the maximum effort as you get used to it. Here are a few of the best HIIT exercises that can get your heart rate up and engage your muscles.
While in a plank position, alternate pulling your right and left knee into your chest. Though it may sound easy and low-impact at first glance, you will be surprised at how much mountain climbers can fire up your core and get you sweating. As your body gets stronger, you can push yourself to increase the intensity and perform more reps.
Burpees are known to be highly effective for weight loss since they are an intense form of cardio that works your entire body. They are one of the best HIIT exercises out there as they spike your heart rate quicker than most exercises and do not require equipment. They also engage several muscles in the body to improve coordination and mobility.
Burpees can be done in multiple ways, so feel free to select a variation based on your capabilities. From a standing position, squat down into a raised plank position, then jump to your feet and leap into the air. For more advanced versions, you can add in a push-up once you get to the plank position!
One of the reasons why squats are a classic is that they are extremely dynamic. Squats alone come in many forms, such as regular and plie squats, but you can also perform them in different ways. You can add in some dumbbells for strength training, opt for jump squats to get your heart rate up or mix variations of the two to maximize the fat-burning effect.
Compound movements like combining squats with planks and push-ups are common in HIIT training since these can work many parts of your body at once. They also combine cardio with strength training, so you can build some muscle while getting your heart rate up.
High Knees and Butt Kicks
High knees and butt kicks are a perfect way to start a cardio training session since they are simple and easy, but highly effective. Stand with feet hip-width apart, then alternate lifting your knees as high as possible or kicking your shins behind to touch your buttocks. Aim to do as many reps as you can within the work interval to warm up your body!
Planks are excellent for engaging your core and improving stamina, flexibility, and posture. Though usually credited as an ab exercise, they also work other parts of your body like your back, glutes, arms, and shoulders. They are often considered to be more effective than crunches since they work the entire body and not just your core.
Most hiit workouts will require you to do a 30 second or 1-minute plank to build your strength. However, if you want an added challenge, you can opt to do the plank at the end of your workout, and retain the position until failure. Over time, you should be able to hold it longer as your body grows stronger, and you build more stamina.
HIIT Workouts for Weight Loss
Studies show that short bursts of exercises, such as those in HIIT, are more effective for weight loss because of how your body reacts to the intensity after the workout. The best thing about HIIT is that you can do virtually any exercise and still burn calories since you are performing them at high intensity. With strength training, you hit two birds with one stone since you can also build muscle.
Indeed, HIIT training is effective for weight loss because of the sustained fat burning effect it has on your body. However, its effects can be amplified when combined with other exercises. HIIT and weightlifting are both effective for weight loss, but you can reap even more benefits by combining the two. This explains why many add weights to their HIIT workout routines!
20 minute HIIT Workout at Home
In short, HIIT workouts are an excellent choice for people looking to lose weight, but as with any other type of exercise, it is not a miracle worker that will show results overnight. You have to give your body time to get used to the HIIT workout style and remember to incorporate a proper diet along with your workouts to achieve the best results.