What is HIIT and what are the benefits?


In a previous blog we have spoken about how we have all become so time poor that it is often difficult to fit in a consistent exercise regime.  I offered a few tips on how you can squeeze in 10 minutes or so each day by changing up your routine.  But when you do have time to fit in a structured workout, you obviously want to be most effective in the shortest possible time.  This is where High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT comes into play.


What is HIIT?

HIIT is all about training smarter, not harder.  You don’t need to do long sessions at the gym to improve your fitness.  This should be music to your ears for those of us who have busy lives and find prioritising exercise really hard!!

So HIIT is a form of continuous strength-based exercise characterised by a high level of effort within minimal time, followed by short periods of rest.  You are therefore working as hard and as fast as you possibly can to achieve muscle fatigue and maximum oxygen use over short bursts of time, as opposed to a slow and steady work out.   Studies have shown that 27 minutes of high intensity interval training 3x/week, produces the same improvements to your fitness as 60 minutes of steady cardio 5x/week.


What are the benefits of HIIT?

  • The harder your muscles work, the more oxygen they use and the longer it takes the body to return back to its resting metabolic rate. So in essence, you are increasing your metabolism and creating what we call “the after burn effect” or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This is where your body continues to burn fat 24-48 hours after you train – who wouldn’t want that!!
  • It’s the most effective way to burn more calories than a steady work out – why would you want to go for a 1.5 hour walk, when you can burn the same amount of calories in half the time!
  • It helps burn fat, create lean muscle and lose weight faster than steady training.

This is why most of my sessions involve a combination of strength and short bursts of cardio in a 45 minute block which allows ample time for a warm-up, around 30 minutes or so of intense work, some core stability work and then some static stretching to cool down.


So, next time you are training, try to put in maximum effort during the time intervals where you would struggle to conduct a conversation in order to get the most out of the workout and get that afterburn effect working for you!

In saying this, you also need to listen to your body.  If you are new to exercise, you don’t want to overdo it and end up with an injury.  Everyone’s level of intensity is different so find a happy medium that works for you and slowly build from there.  And as always, if something doesn’t feel right be sure to stop and seek guidance from your trainer.    Not every session has to be HIIT, but there is definitely a place for this type of training at least once a week.


HIIT at Home

For an at home HIIT workout try the following:

  • Find your nearest oval and do sprints for 20 secs, followed by 10 sec rest.  Repeat 20 times for a quick 10 minute HIIT session
  • Alternate between the following 2 exercises using a ratio of 20 secs work, followed by 10 sec rest 8 times.  This means you perform each exercise 4 times, totalling 4 minutes of work.  This is the Tabata method of training:

Block 1 – Pushups/jump squats

Block 2 – Dips/burpees

Block 3 – Situps/jump lunges

Block 4 – Single leg glute bridge/Sprints

Or you can come up with your own variations – it’s always good to combine one strength exercise followed by an exercise that is going to get the heart rate up.

So give HIIT a try in your own time or book into a Bodyscape session today!