Advice about High-Intensity Interval Training

(1) What is high-intensity interval training?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves a fast-slow technique. You exercise for 1-4 minutes at your fastest pace then slow down to a much slower pace for 1-4 minutes. The pattern is repeated over again. The amount of repetition depends on your conditioning.

HIIT is not a new technique. Serious athletes have used these techniques to improve performance. But recent evidence suggests the peaks and valleys can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness and increase the body’s ability to burn fat.

A recent study conducted at the University of Guelph in Ontario showed that interval training increased fat burned by 36% in one hour and improved the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen by 13%. It didn’t matter how fit the subjects were before testing, sedentary subjects had similar increases in fitness and fat burning.

The benefits of HIIT will become evident in a matter of weeks.

(2) How should you do high-intensity interval training?

It is always best to first check with your physician before starting any new exercise program. First, adequately warm up before the first interval. The high-intensity phase should be long and strenuous enough so you are out of breath — typically one to four minutes of exercise at 80 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. You will generally know you reached the 80 to 85% limit when your muscles begin to feel like they are burning. After the intensity period, a recovery period of lower intensity (about 50% of your maximum heart rate) and of similar or longer length should be performed. Your heart rate should not return to its resting rate.

(3) Why do high-intensity interval training?

A common problem with exercising is boredom. If you’re stuck in a workout rut, interval training can be a new and interesting way to get motivated. You’ll strengthen your heart and lungs. It will help you burn more fat and calories, while also building endurance. No matter what mode of exercise you choose treadmill, outdoor walking or running, swimming, elliptical, or cycling, every workout can be different. The variety within each session keeps things fresh and fun. If you are sick of walking on the treadmill for an hour each day, adding intervals can jumpstart your body out of its low-intensity cardio rut.

(4) Incorporate HIIT routines into your current exercise workout

Vary sprint and recovery intervals during your exercise. Combine HIIT into your exercise routine for a great workout: 10 minutes of short interval HIIT, 25 minutes of steady state cardio and 10 minutes of longer interval HIIT.

Further Reading

Take your fitness and fat loss to the next level

Plan your cardio workout

The best HIIT Routine

HIIT Workout: The best cardio for weight loss

How to use HIIT for fat loss