Train smarter with HIIT

Train smarter with HIIT

Nov 12, 2012

If you are seriously trying to reduce your body fat percentage, build/keep lean muscle and get in the best shape of your life, adding high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workout routine is one of the smartest things you can do.

What is HIIT? And what are the benefits?

High intensity interval training is categorized by extremely intense bursts of activity that push you to your max, followed by a short recovery period. This type of training not only torches far more calories in less time than traditional steady paced cardio but it also speeds up your metabolism for the next 24 hours!  Because of this after-burn effect, the body burns far more calories for an entire day afterwards, even while you’re sleeping! Furthermore, HIIT puts the body in an anabolic state which helps preserve and build lean muscle unlike other forms of traditional cardio. So why doesn’t everyone do it? HIIT requires both physical and mental strength. You must be willing to push yourself through the agony, find a way to enjoy the sensation of your heart beating out of your chest, and be able to remember why you started.  If you really want to lean out, see more definition in your body and keep/build hard sexy muscles then HIIT is the most efficient and effective type of cardio training to reach those goals.

What is the difference between Interval training and HIIT?

The only difference is the level of intensity. Instead of simply bringing the heart rate up and down like with regular interval training, you push yourself to the absolute edge and then allow for a recovery that will bring the heart rate down to normal levels more quickly.

How to do High Intensity Interval Training:

You can perform high intensity intervals absolutely anywhere. For example, run or sprint up a hill or even a flight of stairs, and then walk down it. You can also do HIIT on any piece of cardio equipment just by cranking up the speed, resistance or both. Keep it interesting by choosing a different piece of cardio equipment every time you do your cardio.

To begin, start with 2 minutes of light intensity and 45seconds to a minute of high intensity and then repeat between 5-10 times. When you’ve built up endurance you can change the pattern to 90 seconds of light intensity and 1 minute of high intensity. Eventually you can progress to 1 minute of each and later 30 seconds of each. Just make sure your high intensity really pushes you to your limit. Also, because HIIT is so intense it is important to take 3-5 minutes to warm up and at least 5 minutes to cool down.

You can also do HIIT with only your bodyweight like in LesMills GRIT class! This is a great way to do HIIT because the energy of everyone in the room along with a motivating instructor and music can make time go faster and the exercises seem fun.

If you like to workout on your own or at home try one of HIIT routines in workouts, all you need is you and a floor! No fancy equipment necessary.

How long should a HIIT workout last?

High intensity interval workouts usually last between 20 and 30 minutes. Exceeding 30minutes of HIIT is not necessary and will yield better results if kept shorter (due to a smaller release of cortisol, a stress hormone that makes it difficult to shed stubborn fat). This is why so many people are attracted to HIIT in the first place, the ability to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time.

How often to perform High Intensity Interval Training:

You do not need to do HIIT everyday. Because of the after-burn effect your body is still reaping the benefits of HIIT 24hours later. Also, because the body has to perform at such a high level intensity you may find it necessary to have at least a day where you do another form of exercise or even rest. HIIT can also be quite demanding on the joints. I recommend doing HIIT about three times a week or on cardio days. If you do cardio exercise everyday, then alternate between days of lighter cardio and HIIT. However, everyone’s body is different so you may find HIIT everyday works for you or that you need to do it even less.

Recap of HIIT benefits and more:

  • Burn more calories in less time, don’t work longer, work harder
  • The after-burn effect, continue burning extra calories for the next 24 hours!
  • Improved endurance, healthier heart and increase lung capacity
  • Improved insulin sensitivity, the glucose is used by the muscles more readily instead of storing it as fat
  • Promote lean muscle while burning fat
  • Suitable for both men and women with various goals
  • Great in conjunction with a weight training routine

HIIT is not for you if:

  • If you are completely new to exercise.
  • Have cardiovascular complications (should still consult a doctor regardless when starting a new and vigorous exercise routine)



  1. Dina Shotyk /

    Very impressive. Happy Thanksgiving. Miss you and love you.

  2. Im interested in hearing your reasons for saying HIIT training is not for ‘people on low carbohydrate diets’? I have been on a low carb diet for a number of years and always include atleast 3 or 4 HIIT sessions per week with fantastic results.

    • Hello John,
      I should have specified how low. I was talking initial Atkins phase of 20g carbs low. I am actually going to add that to the article to avoid confusion. HIIT burns mainly carbs which is why it is fantastic for getting lean. People who are very low carbs can find HIIT extremely draining and become overly exhausted. Clearly it is working well for you and in that case I say good for you and keep it up! Thanks so much for your post and feel free to comment any time!

  3. Peter Rogers /

    I agree with the benefits of HIIT but your statement about who HIIT is not suited too is flawed…people on low carbohydrate diets & people whom eat unhealthy would gain significant benefits from introducing HIIT principles…those with genuine medical conditions such as heart related, blood pressure or diabetics are the ones that should consult a medical practitioner before e commencing such exercise. One should fully research and understand the subject matter they are sharing with the health & fitness public so as not to confuse people with information that lacks facts!!

    • Hello Peter,
      My main concern is that people are safe. Of course if a physician deemed HIIT to be a safe form of exercise for someone despite heart, blood pressure or other conditions it would be fine. I am writing on the safe side so that people don’t take risks they may not be ready for. You are correct though and I do not want to put people off HIIT permanently. Perhaps I will make a note to say consult a doctor instead of saying HIIT it is not for them full stop. Thank you for your comment,

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