By Miguel J. Ortiz
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been used worldwide by professional athletes and coaches to help clients achieve anything from their general athletic aspirations to improving speed and agility. The types of circuits and different intervals I have seen from coaches is very impressive. Some of the movements can tend to be pretty demanding. So, does that mean you have to do the hardest movements or really drive your heart rate out the roof? Absolutely not!
With power comes control, and when doing HIIT it’s important to understand that it’s not about how hard you go or how difficult the exercise, it’s about how consistently well you preform the exercise under control so that you have the best efficiency. Follow these three tips when utilizing HIIT in a program.
First, we must ensure that our body, as well as our heart rate, is capable of performing these movements. By definition of “High Intensity,” a quality HIIT workout will get one’s heart rate to about 80% of its maximum capacity. So, if you haven’t pushed yourself in quite some time, a good interval to try could be a 4 by 4. Perform a 5-10 minute warm-up, do four intervals of a high intensity run followed by four intervals of a slow walk. Then, do a five-minute cool down to relax. HIIT workouts are short, never lasting longer than 30 minutes including the warm-up and cool down periods.
However, they will also challenge one’s heart rate. Individuals will have time to recover, but it will be brief.
Second, when utilizing HIIT workouts in a program one should keep in mind that they don’t all have to be cardio-based exercises. Individuals can throw in some strength work – which is another reason why HIIT workouts continue to gain popularity. Just remember to push the heart rate to a good 80%, keep the workload and recovery short and sweet. Knock out a couple of intervals and the result is a solid workout. When considering strength work, try some total body movements to ensure the heart rate still gets up. Try this HIIT workout (kettle bell required), 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest. So, every minute on the minute you’re doing work, aka, EMOM, 3 rounds is 9 minutes.
- Kettle bell swings
- Push up to high knee
- Kettle bell goblet squat
Finally, interval training is hands down one of the best ways to strengthen your heart, as the cardio-respiratory benefits are incredible for weight loss and improving your VO2 max. Which is how efficient the body takes in and utilizes oxygen. With that being said, I see a lot of people doing proper intervals and exercises however the recovery needed outside of the workout must increase. The reason for this is because your body is being pushed pretty hard. It may only be for a short period of time, but the demanding movements require proper self-care. So, plan extra recovery and stretching. Have fun with your HIIT workouts.
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.