It seems that there is always one type of workout that is atop the mountain as the most popular during a certain time. We’ve seen yoga have its time in the sun, the days of jogging and even Jazzercise. Lately, it seems that a training method that was designed for athletes has now become a popular weight loss workout. It’s called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short. HIIT methods are being taught across the nation to promote weight loss, and only asks you for 30 minutes of exercise per day.

There have been numerous studies that have shown HIIT workouts are among the best for weight loss, with some programs claiming that you can lose just over three pounds per week. Will this plan work for you, though? Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the aspects of interval training, including the different types of workouts and how it all got started.

History of HIIT

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The origins of HIIT are a bit foggy, as there is no set workout plan when training or a person that claims to have invented HIIT. The earliest known HIIT trainer was Peter Coe, a coach in the 1970’s that trained his son using intervals. Coe would have his son run as fast as he can for 200 meters and then follow it up with 30 seconds of jogging before going back into a full sprint.

Back then, HIIT was not a popular method and didn’t even have a name. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that Izumi Tabata came up with a method of 20 seconds of full bore exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. The process would be repeated eight times to increase an athlete’s oxygen capacity. Many people credit Tabata as the source of modern interval training.

Other methods for HIIT have been released since then, but most of them involve the same thing. A burst of hard exercise followed by either rest or calm exercise, repeated until a certain amount of time has passed. Martin Gibala, Jorge Zuniga and Jamie Timmons have created these newer methods, so there really isn’t a uniform program to follow. No matter which method you’re using, the design of HIIT is to increase your cardiovascular performance. While the weight loss benefits have been disputed, many people have seen results using the HIIT method.

Benefits of HIIT

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There are many reasons that high intensity interval training has become so popular in recent years, so let’s take a look at some of the benefits. For starters, a lot of people prefer HIIT because of how time efficient it is. Many of the workouts are between 15 to 30 minutes long, so even those with busy schedules will be able to find time for a workout. You’re also not pushing yourself for more than two minutes at a time, which people find to be easier even though you are still getting a good workout, so it won’t leave you exhausted afterward.

Those that are looking to improve their heart health will also see an improvement thanks to HIIT. Since you are reaching your performance zone during the spurts where you are pushing your hardest, your heart will become more efficient. This means that once you have done HIIT for an extended period of time, you will be able to perform at a higher level if you are trying to get into a competitive race either in running or cycling.

Since you probably want to know about weight loss, HIIT will also help out in that department. Your metabolism gets a boost from interval training, even when you aren’t working out. Studies have shown that your body will burn more calories in 24 hours that follow an interval workout than if you go at a regular pace. Some people are worried that losing weight also means losing muscle, but one study showed that people in a HIIT workout program lost more weight than those on steady workouts even though they gained an average of two pounds per muscle. The steady workout group ended up losing a pound of muscle on average.

Perhaps the best part of HIIT is that you don’t have to buy any expensive gym equipment or sign up for any memberships. It’s a great program for those on a budget as you can use stairs, a bike, a treadmill or just run outside. You can also use your own bodyweight for HIIT exercises that are more designed to build strength than just cardio endurance. There are many different forms of HIIT that you can do, making it very versatile for people of all fitness levels and access to equipment.

HIIT Workouts

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Whether you are looking to increase your performance as a runner or increase muscle while burning fat, there are different types of HIIT workouts that you can do. Let’s look at some of the more popular HIIT workouts to see which one you might like the best (for each workout, do a three minute warm up that includes jogging in place or stretching):

Running – Start out with accelerated runs of 100 meters each, including 40 where you are reaching your maximum speed. After finishing, follow that up with two to three minutes of walking or jogging, depending on your fitness level. You only have to do this twice with your first workout, though you should be building up each time. Eventually, you will be able to run 150 meters at high speed up to six times with three minutes of rest in between. Once you have conquered that, you can repeat the process a total of 10 times with reps that max out at 300 meters, which could last up to 40 minutes.

Beginners Workout – There are a few different HIIT workouts that you can do if you are a beginner, depending on how much time you have. A 10 minute workout will have you 20 seconds of right jabs, then left jabs with jumping jacks and sumo squats to finish it off. Between each set, rest for 10 seconds. Repeat the entire process three times for the full 10 minutes.

If you want to kick it up to 10 minutes, perform 45 seconds each of push-ups, butt kicks, tricep dips, side lunges and squats with 15 seconds rest in between. Like the 10 minute workout, you should repeat this entire process three times. Finally, there is the 30 minute method where you also do 45 seconds per rep with 15 seconds of rest in between. The exercises for the 30 minute HIIT workout are side lunges, jumping jacks, tricep dips, butt kicks, squats, push-ups and sit-ups.

Advanced Workout – Finally, there is the advanced workout that you can perform if the beginners program gets too easy. You start out by doing two exercises each for 20 seconds, then 20 seconds of rest for a total of 60 seconds per set. The process is repeated a total of four times for a total of 20 minutes. Here is what the advanced workout looks like:

  • 20 Seconds of Squat Jacks
  • 20 Seconds of Push-ups
  • 20 Seconds of Rest
  • 20 Seconds of Star Jumps
  • 20 Seconds of Mountain Climbers
  • 20 Seconds of Rest
  • 20 Seconds of Thigh Slap Jumps
  • 20 Seconds of Squats
  • 20 Seconds of Rest
  • 20 Seconds of High Knees
  • 20 Seconds of Jumping Lunges
  • 20 Seconds of Rest

Summing it Up

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There are a ton of workouts that you can do that will fit into HIIT, and really any type of exercise that is performed at maximum capacity followed by a short rest period could be considered interval training. You can even work your way up to performing more of the high intensity exercise than the low intensity once you have increased your cardiovascular performance. The benefits of cardiovascular health are certainly there, though there seems to be a lot of conflicting studies about weight loss.

HIIT workouts, like any cardio workout, will help you burn calories faster even after you have worked out, allowing you to eat more while you lose weight. The low intensity workouts burn an average of five calories per minute while high intensity burns around 15 calories per minute. If you workout for 30 minutes using 10 minutes of high intensity and 20 minutes of low intensity, you are looking at an average of 250 calories. Compared to 30 minutes straight of moderate intensity (10 calories per minute), which has an average of 300 calories burned.

To lose weight, you are going to have to increase the amount of high intensity training that you do, but it takes time. The weight loss could be a bit slow at first, but if you stick with it and get to a point where you are comfortable with performing at a high level more often, the pounds will start to fall off fast. Even if you’re eating at a calorie deficit, doing beginner workouts will still allow you to lose weight at the start.

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