Have you ever felt like there wasn’t enough time in the day to fit in a workout? With time being one of our most precious resources, we never seem to have enough of it. Some days it may be easy to overlook a workout due to a busy schedule, but you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to see great results. You simply need to ensure your workouts are as efficient and effective as possible, which leads us to the topic of HIIT.

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a workout technique consisting of short bursts of high to maximal effort exercises followed by a moderate to low level active recovery phase, which is repeated for multiple intervals. This style of training puts a large and healthy stress on your cardiovascular system and increases your body’s demand for oxygen during the effort phase causing an oxygen shortage. Your body attempts to replenish this shortage during the recovery period but is unable to fully achieve this due to the short nature of recovery allowed during the workout. With the system not able to fully recover before the next max effort interval, your body will continue to increase the need for oxygen, in turn creating an after burn effect called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is why HIIT workouts are so much more effective at burning calories and fat than your typical steady state or endurance exercises.

In our hectic world, it is easy to see why HIIT has become so popular. We are all looking for ways to streamline our lives, so if you could attain the same exercise results in less time, why wouldn’t you? Some of the most appealing benefits of HIIT are increased metabolism and high calorie and fat burning effectiveness. Due to the elevated level of intensity that is found during this style of workout, HIIT can increase your metabolism causing you to burn calories and fat well beyond the end of your workout. Studies have shown that HIIT induces 24 hour energy expenditure (increased metabolism) in half the time it takes someone to achieve the same results performing traditional endurance exercise.

So is HIIT right for you? And if so how can you get started? This style of workout is suitable for implementation of both healthy and many at risk populations. Keep in mind that caution should always be taken when starting a new workout routine with intensity being determined by your existing level of physical fitness. When first getting started with HITT a good interval pattern is 20 seconds on (hard to maximum effort) followed by 40-60 seconds of active recovery. Examples of exercises to do during the 20 seconds on include push ups, jumping jacks, air squats, lunges, mountain climbers and burpees. During the active recovery you can do things such as walking or jogging. Remember during your recovery to exert yourself at a level that allows you to feel slightly recovered but maintains a high heart rate. These are all things that don’t require equipment and can be performed practically anywhere! For beginners the workout should last somewhere between 10-20 minutes and can be gradually progressed to 30 minutes. An effective workout should always include a minimum of a 5 minute warm up to increase the heart rate and wake up the muscles and should be followed by a 5 minute cool down to help initiate the recovery process.

With research backing the effectiveness of HITT, it is an easy choice to make for anyone from beginner to advanced fitness junkie. It is even a great option for endurance athletes, as studies have shown that in as little as 3 weeks individuals performing HITT improved aerobic capacity, skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and overall exercise tolerance. So whether your goal is to simply start working out or to take you fitness to the next level, HITT is a efficient and effective way to make this happen.

Content provided by Dr. Milton Brinza