Get fit with HIIT

Anna Cronin offers a group fitness class in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) every Monday and Friday at 7:30 a.m.  In this article, she explains the science behind HIIT.  Why not join her for this fun, challenging change to your exercise routine?

What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise in which you alternate between very intense anaerobic periods and slower recovery periods for a shorter, more efficient workout. “The high intensity intervals should be performed at near maximum effort and the recovery intervals should be done at about 50%. The ratio is typically 2:1.

A HIIT workout is any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. For example, a good starter workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat that 3-minute interval five times for a 15-minute total.

Why do HIIT?

It’s efficient

Super-efficient HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break or to get in shape for a fast-approaching event. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 to 20 minutes of interval training 3 times a week, than jogging on the treadmill for an hour 5 times a week. And according to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training. (Boutcher SH (2011). “High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss”.  Journal of Obesity)

Burn more fat and increase metabolism

Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT workout, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyper-drive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run. In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn, but can also slow down the aging process! (

No equipment needed

Running, biking, jump roping, and rowing all work great for HIIT, but you don’t need any equipment to get it done. High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up fast. In fact, some equipment like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because you want the focus to be on pushing your heart to its max, not your biceps. You can do it in a boat, you can do it with a goat. You can do it here or there, you can do it anywhere! It’s such a simple concept—go at maximum effort for a short period of time followed by a recovery period and repeat—you can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have.

Fun and challenging

This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You may be feeling the burn, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!—[Source:  Evidence based exercise – clinical benefits of high intensity interval training, Shiraev T, Barclay G., University of Notre Dame, School of Medicine

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One Response So Far... Leave a Reply:

  1. joan says:

    Thanks Anna, that was very informative!