You’ve probably heard of HIIT (high-intensity interval training). What you may not know is that HIIT is one of the most effective ways to burn fat, build lean muscle and transform your body in a short amount of time.
In 2020, HIIT was voted the top fitness trend among fitness professionals. And everyone seems to be jumping on the trend, with more and more HIIT classes popping up worldwide. Here’s everything you need to know about HIIT and why you should add it to your training.
What is HIIT?
HIIT workouts often mix cardiovascular exercises with resistance training. In a typical HIIT class, you can expect short bursts of intense exercise combined with periods of rest or low-impact activity. Alternating between hard-charging intervals and short rest periods elevates your heart rate to at least 80 percent of its maximum capacity, which is the optimal fat-burning zone. According to research, HIIT burns more calories than most aerobic activities, including running. In a 20-minute timeframe, you could burn up to 273 calories in a HIIT class compared to 150 calories expended by jogging.
Tip: To reduce the risk of injury, focus on quality form over quantity or speed.
What Does a HIIT Class Look Like?
What differentiates HIIT from other types of steady-state exercises—jogging, rowing, stepping—is the interval component. These periods of heart-pounding intensity are one of the best ways to burn calories at a rapid rate. As a result, researchers suggest HIIT is more effective in gaining long-term fitness results when compared to steady-state exercise.
The following are common HIIT workouts:
One of the most popular HIIT classes around is Tabata. The Tabata workout is a short, high-intensity workout that tests your endurance and strength. The basis of Tabata training is four minutes of intense interval training where you’ll work extremely hard for 20 seconds followed by a 10-second rest period. You’ll repeat the round of exercises eight times for a total of four minutes.
Or, exercises can be sequenced. Instead of repeating one exercise eight times, you could sequence squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups or any other exercise involving all major muscle groups. The idea behind Tabata is to use exercises that tax both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity to burn more calories and increase your strength.
To get the most out of Tabata, you’ve got to perform each exercise as quickly as you can. Make it the toughest 4-minute workout you’ve ever done. You can accomplish this by trying to beat or maintain the number of reps each set. However, don’t get discouraged if the number of reps decreases—that’s a good sign you’re going all out!
Most HIIT classes include a recovery period between sets. However, AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) omits the recovery period altogether. Rather, AMRAP is designed as a sequence of exercises with a prescribed number of repetitions to be done as many times as possible within a set period of time. AMRAP work can be done anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes and may look something like this:
*As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.
EMOMs (every minute on the minute) are HIIT-style workouts in which you alternate between short, intense bursts of exercise and complete rest. You’ll be challenged to complete an exercise (or exercises) for a certain number of repetitions in less than 60 seconds. The remaining time within the minute serves as your recovery period. At the top of the next minute, you’ll either perform the same exercise(s) or different moves.
What are the Benefits of HIIT?
#1 HIIT for Heart Health
The single most well-established benefit of HIIT has to do with cardiovascular health. Interval training boosts your heart health in a shorter period of time than any other exercise, including steady-rate activities like jogging.
#2 HIIT for Superior Fat Loss
These superior fat-burning workouts can be completed in as little as 20 minutes with the same calorie melting benefit as a 50-minute run.
#3 HIIT for Busy Lifestyles
HIIT is perfect for busy mothers, fathers, those with erratic work schedules or anyone who struggles to make it to the gym or commit to a fitness program. In just 15-20 minutes, you can get in a solid HIIT routine that burns a significant amount of calories.
#4 HIIT for All Fitness Levels
The great thing about HIIT is that it can be scaled to any fitness level. Getting in shape doesn’t require all those fancy moves you see fitness influencers performing on their Instagram account. Apps like Gymondo offer HIIT programs focused solely on bodyweight exercises with modifications for each movement. You stay in control of your fitness and go at your own pace. And if you can’t execute a movement with good technique due to fatigue, rest longer before performing the next interval.
#5 HIIT for the After-Burn Effect
HIIT workouts lead to an after-burn effect, a period of elevated calorie burn after you finish exercising. The after-burn effect is linked to increased metabolism and elevated calorie burn long after your workout is over. According to research, a 20-minute HIIT class results in the same calorie burn over 24 hours as a 50-minute bout of steady-state exercise.
If you’re ready to take your fitness to new heights, try Gymondo’s popular HIIT program, Burn. Burn is an intense (and sweaty) 6-week HIIT program you can do right from your living room. The best part? You don’t need any equipment to get it done. Get ready to burn fat, build lean muscle and transform your body.