What Is HIIT?

by Kristine Davenport

HIIT stands for “High-Intensity Interval Training” and chances are you have heard of it by now. HIIT has increased in popularity over the last several years, and for good reason. The purpose of HIIT is to pack a powerful workout into a short amount of time, making it the perfect fitness solution for all of us with busy schedules.

So what does a HIIT workout look like?

Generally speaking, these workouts are comprised of short periods of maximum effort exercise, followed by an even shorter period of rest. The most common ratio used is 2:1. For example, sprinting for 60 seconds, and then resting for 30 seconds and repeating this circuit 5-10 times. By exerting maximum effort in bursts, you are increasing your heart rate and improving cardiovascular health. However, unlike your traditional view of cardio workouts, HIIT training is not limited to walking, running, swimming, or biking. You can do just about any workout, including strength training, such as working out with battle ropes.

How do you know if you are working hard enough?

If you workout often, you probably have a good idea of what maxing out your body’s abilities feels like. However, it may be a good idea to use a heart rate monitor to make sure you aren’t slacking off. Once you have calculated your target heart rate, your goal should be to stay around 90% of that target during the high-intensity bursts of your workout.

Why is HIIT so popular?

In addition to being a time efficient workout, HIIT has gained popularity for several other reasons. In group-class settings, HIIT is a great way to work with people of different fitness levels, because each individual simply focuses on their own maximum output, whatever that looks like. Also, HIIT has shown to burn more fat during a workout and increase your body’s ability to burn calories for many hours after the workout.

If you haven’t tried a HIIT workout yet, what is stopping you? Give it a go! Perhaps the biggest benefit of these workouts is you can do them anywhere in any amount of time (although a minimum of 20 minutes is recommended).