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HIIT Me With Your Best Shot

by on July 30, 2012

Krista Maloney

Do you find that you don’t have the time in your busy schedule to fit in the 2 hour gym session that you think you should be putting in? Would it surprise you to learn that with HIIT training,  your workout should last 20 minutes or less, including warm up & cool down?

What is this HIIT, you ask? HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.  It is based upon short duration, all out explosions of  work. The completion of a true high intensity interval should be very uncomfortable, and you should feel as if you’re fighting to finish. It is an all out, 100% effort.  HIIT is truly no pain, no gain.  I have days when I realize that I should be pushing harder. We all do. I love that yoga mantra, “learn to embrace the body that you woke up to this morning.” Some days it’s easier to kick a little butt than others.  To honestly perform HIIT intervals, it takes an “I’m ready to kick butt today” day.  HIIT takes mental strength, and when done without a coach, it takes some serious personal cheerleading!

Dr. Izumi Tabata has created and researched a training method named Tabata intervals which has been touted by some as the single most effective type of HIIT. It should, when done correctly, be incredibly difficult to complete.

Try exercising at an all out effort, like this:

Warm up for 5-10 minutes

Push hard for 20 seconds

Rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat this eight times.

Then cool down. You’re going for maximum reps, and it’s helpful to have a timer to keep you honest. Try doing hill sprints, lifting heavy weights for 20 second sets, or going with mountain climber, and burpee, jump squat circuits, shown here. During this workout, I’ve found that if you’re not questioning your ability to complete these four minutes, you’re either an extremely confident person, or you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.

According to Dr. Tabata’s research, this short burst of work, can build the muscular equivalence of 45 minutes of a typical moderate intensity workout. Talk about getting a lot of bang for your buck!   HIIT expends so much energy and requires such a high amount of post exercise oxygen consumption that post workout calorie burn is estimated to be nine times higher than a moderate paced, steady state workout.  Congratulations. You must now eat to feed those muscles.

There are many other HIIT intervals timed workouts out there. Some use 50 second work sets, followed by 10 second recovery for 12 minutes. I’ve also seen workouts with a 60 second on, 60 second recovery interval done for 12 times.  Google HIIT Workout and you’ll find many sites that offer exercise combinations.

HIIT requires a higher level of physical fitness than a moderate intensity workout, and can increase your potential for injury and/or overtraining if done too frequently. If you’re newly reacquainting yourself with the work out world, this is not for you.   Fitness is a lifelong pursuit though, so if you are just starting out, have faith that you’ll get there!

I have a love-hate relationship with HIIT. I love the short duration of the workout.  I love the results.  I hate  the anxiety I feel wondering if I will make it though those short, intense intervals, and I love it when I am done.   As a Mom, HIIT works for me. Although my short little workout is never completed without children interrupting because the are in need of juice or a snack,  it’s short enough that I can finish without the risk of any of my  little ones suffering from dehydration or malnutrition while they wait.  🙂  Are  you a HIIT fan?


From → Fitness & Health

  1. Very interesting!

  2. I will never forget the time that Krista came home all excited about an exercise video from “The Firm.” I was younger then, and used to actually do it with them. I never did more than the aerobic/interval 30 minutes, and can tell you there were serious changes in body structure within two weeks.

    That was then, alas, and I can testify that if you’re ready to cry with happiness when you finish a workout routine, it works.


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