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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. It is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.

When most people think of HIIT they think of it as applicable only for cardio, yet it can also be used in weight training. After all, weight training itself is a form of HIIT—you do a set with all-out effort, rest, then do another set, rest, and repeat. Building and maintaining muscle is a critical component of conditioning. Not only is it safe to incorporate HIIT and strength training, it’s an efficient way to maximize lean body mass and maintain strength. To do this, try a strength training workout that consists of one to two exercises and five to six sets of each.

Benefits:

  • It’s efficient
  • You’ll burn more fat
  • You’ll build a healthier heart
  • There’s no equipment necessary
  • You lose weight, not muscle
  • You’ll increase your metabolism
  • You can do it anywhere
  • It’s seriously challenging

Tips:

  • A typical HIIT session should last anywhere between 4 minutes and 15 minutes. Overuse injuries can arise if workouts are too long; cap HIIT workouts at 30 minutes.
  • HIIT recovery periods can be active (such as a plank) or at full rest. Either way, a basic work-to-rest ratio is one minute work to two minutes rest. You should not be able to talk and work out simultaneously during a well programmed HIIT workout.
  • To avoid hitting a fitness plateau and to continue improving your conditioning, add an extra work interval and/or reduce the duration of rest periods in subsequent workouts.

HIIT Workout Examples from Men’s Fitness:

 

BASIC HIIT ROWING WORKOUT
4 rounds
250 meters rowing
Work to rest ratio: 1:2
Total time: 12 min.

MORE INTENSE HIIT ROWING WORKOUT
8 rounds
250 meters rowing
Work to rest: 1:1
(Resting for approximately 1 minute)
Total time: 16 min.

STRENGTH WORKOUT
Back squats (working up to 5RM)
Sets: 5
Reps: 5
Superset with
Pullups
Sets: 5
Reps: 10

FULL BODY METABOLIC WORKOUT

Mobility and dynamic stretching
Duration: 10 minutes

Strength Training
Duration: 15 minutes

HIIT
Duration: 15 minutes

Cool Down (stretching)
Duration: 5-10 minutes