High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): What is That?

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity activity. This type of workout is known for its ability to burn calories and improve fitness levels in a short amount of time. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at HIIT, its benefits, and how to incorporate it into your fitness routine.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

HIIT is a type of cardiovascular exercise that involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity activity. The high-intensity intervals are typically brief, lasting anywhere from 20 seconds to a few minutes. During this time, you’ll be pushing yourself to your maximum capacity, performing exercises like sprints, jump squats, or burpees.

After the high-intensity interval, you’ll take a short rest period, typically lasting between 10 and 60 seconds. During this time, you’ll perform a low-intensity activity such as jogging, walking, or stretching. This allows your body to recover and prepare for the next high-intensity interval.

The cycle of high-intensity exercise and rest is repeated for a total of 20 to 30 minutes. Because of the intensity of the exercise, HIIT workouts are typically shorter than traditional cardio workouts.

Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

1. Burn More Calories: HIIT is known for its ability to burn a large number of calories in a short amount of time. This is because the high-intensity intervals require your body to work harder, increasing your heart rate and metabolic rate. The increased calorie burn can help with weight loss and weight management.

2. Improved Cardiovascular Fitness: HIIT workouts can improve cardiovascular health by increasing the strength and efficiency of the heart and lungs. The intense exercise increases blood flow, which can improve circulation and lower blood pressure.

3. Time-Efficient: HIIT workouts are typically shorter than traditional cardio workouts, making them a great option for people with busy schedules. With just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, you can achieve the same benefits as a longer workout.

4. Increased Metabolic Rate: The intense exercise of HIIT can increase your metabolic rate, which means you’ll continue to burn calories even after your workout is over. This is known as the “afterburn effect” or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

5. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: HIIT workouts can improve insulin sensitivity, which is the body’s ability to use insulin effectively. This can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

How to Incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training into Your Fitness Routine

If you’re interested in trying HIIT, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Start Slowly: If you’re new to HIIT, it’s important to start slowly and build up your intensity over time. Begin with shorter intervals and longer rest periods, gradually increasing the intensity as you become more comfortable.

2. Warm Up Properly: Before starting any workout, it’s important to warm up properly. This can help prevent injury and prepare your body for the intense exercise to come. A good warm-up might include 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio or dynamic stretching.

3. Use Proper Form: Proper form is important for any exercise, but it’s especially important for high-intensity exercises that place a lot of stress on your body. Make sure you’re using proper form for each exercise to prevent injury and maximize the effectiveness of your workout.

4. Mix it Up: HIIT can be performed using a variety of exercises and intervals. Mix up your routine to prevent boredom and challenge your body in new ways.

You might try a Tabata-style workout, which involves performing 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of four minutes. Or you might try a longer interval, such as 1 minute of intense exercise followed by 1 minute of rest.

5. Listen to Your Body: As with any workout, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your intensity as needed. If you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing pain, it’s important to take a break and rest.

6. Cool Down: After your workout, it’s important to cool down properly. This might include 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio or static stretching to help your body recover.

Examples of High-Intensity Interval Training Exercises

There are many exercises that can be incorporated into a HIIT workout. Here are a few examples:

1. Sprints: Sprinting is a classic HIIT exercise that can be performed on a treadmill, track, or outdoor space. Start with short sprints, such as 20 seconds, and gradually increase the duration over time.

2. Jump Squats: Jump squats involve jumping explosively from a squatting position. This exercise works the lower body and can help improve power and explosiveness.

3. Burpees: Burpees are a full-body exercise that involves jumping, squatting, and plank positions. This exercise is great for improving cardiovascular endurance and strength.

4. Mountain Climbers: Mountain climbers are a core exercise that involves bringing your knees to your chest in a plank position. This exercise can help improve core strength and cardiovascular endurance.

5. Battle Ropes: Battle ropes are a great tool for HIIT workouts. This exercise involves swinging heavy ropes in a variety of patterns, working the arms, shoulders, and core.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or low-intensity activity. HIIT workouts are known for their ability to burn calories, improve cardiovascular health, and increase metabolic rate. By incorporating HIIT into your fitness routine, you can achieve these benefits in a short amount of time. Remember to start slowly, warm up properly, use proper form, mix up your routine, listen to your body, and cool down after your workout. With these tips in mind, you can get the most out of your HIIT workouts and take your fitness to the next level.

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