HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give 100% effort in quick, intense bursts of exercise. This is followed by short recovery periods of low-intensity work, or no activity at all. It can be done both aerobically with cardio, and anaerobically with weights.
HIIT training has become very popular in the last few years and it has multiple benefits. For those who’d like to find out how it could benefit them, and what you can expect walking into a HIIT class, here’s the low-down…
What can you expect in a HIIT class?
While HIIT sessions can be done by yourself in the gym or at home, most gyms offer HIIT classes with a qualified instructor. Classes vary based on the gym and instructor, but they tend to follow a general pattern – interchanging different exercises and time periods.
Classes usually last for between 30 minutes and one hour, starting with a warm up such as running, jump squats, lunges and push-ups. Then you begin the alternating periods of high and low effort. While the time length of the periods changes, you will always have a period of intense work followed by a period of rest, repeated across multiple sets. One of the most common formats is 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, performed in sets of eight (so a full set would be four minutes in total).
Each set tends to include a different series of exercises. As HIIT aims to work the entire body, moves will target multiple muscle groups, incorporating plyometrics and isometrics alongside spurts of cardio. For instance, you could do rotations of jumping switch lunges, plyometric push-ups, high-knee runs and burpees. Some classes do include equipment such as kettlebells, free weights, skipping ropes or boxes, while others simply use body weight.
Expect to be out of breath and sweaty within a couple of minutes, so take a big bottle of water and a towel. Go at your own pace if you’re a beginner, and tell the instructor if you have any injuries, and they’ll be able to modify any moves that could affect you.
HIIT has many health benefits:
It helps burn fat & boost your metabolism
HIIT can help increase your metabolism as you continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours after each session. This is extremely effective, especially compared to an activity like jogging where calorie burning stops with the activity ending.
HIIT also stimulates production of the human growth hormone (HGH) by a large percentage, a big win as HGH helps slow down the aging process and build lean muscle.
It increases your aerobic capacity & lactate threshold
A HIIT session elevates your ability to uptake oxygen, building your overall aerobic capacity, meaning you can run further and faster for longer. It also increases your ability to handle an increase in lactic acid build up in your muscles, meaning you fatigue at a slower pace.
It helps you put on muscle
HIIT has been proven to have an anabolic effect when combined with the right nutrition – this basically means it helps you put on muscle. This is very different from steady state cardio, such a long-distance running, which is catabolic and can cause the loss of muscle mass. You only have to compare a sprinter and a marathon runner’s physique to see the different effects.
It is quick & efficient
HIIT workouts are very quick, generally lasting around 30 minutes in total. This is ideal for those with a limited amount of time who are looking to get maximum. Short sessions make it much easier to squeeze a workout in your lunch-break or first thing in the morning.
It doesn’t require any equipment
HIIT doesn’t require any equipment as most exercises are cardio-based and rely on body weight exercises only. These means you can do a quick workout no matter where you find yourself – there is no call for a gym. This makes it a great option for those who travel a lot, or don’t have access to a gym – you can do it anywhere with a bit of floor space.
It is not boring!
One of the great things about HIIT is because it is so incredibly fast-paced and full of back-to-back action, the time flies by. With a short warm up, and then constant activity throughout the session, there’sno time to be bored.
If you’re looking to try out a HIIT class or learn how to interval train with a Personal Trainer, get in touch with your local David Lloyd Club. We offer a range of HIIT classes in our fantastic group exercise studios, as well as on the gym floor. Click here to search for your local club, and find out more about our HIIT training.