What is HIIT training?

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What is HIIT training?

When it comes to cardio you have probably heard the words “HIIT” or high intensity interval training. If you are not familiar with this form of cardio or want to know more about it, then look no further as in this post we are going to be going through the basics for HIIT and how to make the most of it.


Firstly, we need to go over what HIIT training is.  This training involves working at a higher intensity for a certain period of time and then lowering the intensity, this is done throughout the workout making a HIIT workout. An example of a HIIT workout could be jogging for 30 seconds then sprinting for 20 seconds and repeating this over a 5-minute period. This type of training rapidly increases your heart rate is favoured in most sports as its effective and quicker than other forms of cardio.

You may be thinking a HIIT workout sounds like a lot of hard work, but there are many benefits to this type of training. For starters HIIT allows you to burn a lot of calories in a short space of time. Studies have shown this form of training to burn 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise.  Many studies have also found HIIT training to increase your metabolic rate for hours after your exercise. This means that your body is still burning calories after the exercise is complete. Fat loss is also a benefit as studies have also shown that after a HIIT workout the body’s metabolism is shifted to use fat for energy rather than carbs.

As well as theses other benefits there are many other gains to HIIT that are a lot less focused on. One of these is that HIIT promotes a healthy heart, there is a lot of research suggesting that this form of training can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure for people that are overweight. HIIT is also proven by 50 different studies to reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance.  Doing this type of training makes your body release more growth hormones than it usually would (e.g. testosterone). This means that you maintain muscle while burning fat.


Along with the physical benefits there is also mental benefits to your mind. There is research showing that HIIT improves cognitive function and increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) when compared to a lower intensity form of training.  BNDF is a protein that helps regulate synaptic plasticity which is good for memory and learning. This protein is found in the regions of the brain that control eating, drinking and body weight.

As we all know in life there is a cost to every good thing. So along with these benefits of HIIT there is a few disadvantages. HIIT is a very demanding form of training, so going straight in could put strain on your body if your fitness isn’t the best. The key to overcome this is to start slow. Its better to start slower and find your limits then go all in and strain yourself.  If you have any health issues and are thinking about starting a HIIT routine its recommended to talk to a medical professional first and get a second opinion.

Overtraining could also be an issue with HIIT. As it’s an effective form of cardio it can be overused and lead to overtraining. This means your muscles are not getting enough time to rebuild themselves and are more prone to tears and serious injury. If your doing HIIT along side something like resistance training, then over training could be a big issue. It’s important that you try not to do more than 3 HIIT sessions per week to avoid over raining and give your muscles the rest they need.


You may be thinking this HIIT training sound good and are wondering where to start. Well there are many examples of high intensity interval training and its good to get creative when thinking of your own workouts. Some examples include:


Using a stationary bike

  • Set the bike to a resistance that represents a slight incline

  • Pedal for about 5 minutes to warm up (would not want to injure yourself)

  • For 20 seconds pedal as hard as you can.

  • For 20 seconds pedal at a steady rate.

  • Repeat for 10 minutes.

Running and push ups

  • This is a little twist on your everyday jog around the park as it includes a bodyweight exercise.
  • This involves sprinting for around 100m
  • Dropping and doing a set of press ups till failure (or close)
  • Repeating over a 5-minute period (or longer)


HIIT can also be implemented into circuit training. This could be done by mixing high and moderate intensity exercises in a circuit. For example:

  • A fitness circuit could include burpees, press ups and jogging being rotated every 30 seconds.
  • Here the press ups and the burpees are the higher intensity workouts and the jog is at a lower intensity to try and give you some rest time.
  • This circuit would not only burn calories but promote muscle growth as there are the body weight exercises like press ups and burpees that engage your legs, chest, and core muscles.

So now you know what HIIT training is and what effects it can have on the body and mind. Although this is a very effective form of training its recommended you start off slow and gradually increase your intensity and duration of your exercises. Doing this will reduce the risk of straining yourself or injury and you will get the most out of your workouts.