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Everything You Need to Know About HIIT But Were Too Afraid to Ask

You're going to sweat. A lot.
Everything You Need to Know About HIIT But Were Too Afraid to Ask

No doubt you've probably heard of HIIT, or high intensity interval training. The exercise has steadily increased in popularity for years, having first appeared on the American College of Sports Medicine's list of fitness trends back in 2014, and maintained a spot on this year's list for top fitness trends of 2019. 

So what makes this workout so sweat-worthy? If you haven't tried HIIT yet, here's everything you need to know about it. (Grab a towel because it's about to get hot.)

What Is It?

HIIT is exactly what it sounds like -- intense as all get out. Using short and intense bursts of physical activity, paired with intervals of with even shorter rests, it's an effective and efficient workout.

Just how intense does it get? Physical activity is performed at 80% to 95% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate which is the maximum number of times your heart will beat in a minute without overexerting yourself. Rests, or recovery, are performed at a heart rate that is half that. You can either do a simple rest, catch your breath, or you might choose to do recovery exercises in between intervals. The good news is because you're pushing your body to the max, these workouts tend to be 30 minutes or less. 

Why Do It?

If it's that intense, why put your body through it, right? Well, the even better news is this type of training increases your metabolism, so that you're torching calories way beyond your workout. You're also increasing your endurance, improving your cardiovascular system, and depending on the types of exercises used during the workout, you're also improving your balance and strength. The short length in time means you can get in a heavy duty and efficient workout without logging hours in the gym, and because it typically involves bodyweight exercises, it's the sort of program you can do pretty much anywhere. 

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Another perk? It's suitable for all levels of fitness. HITT can be done with any type of exercise and at any level of intensity, so it's easily modifiable for both the newbie and the gym rat. 

What Does It Involve?

The best thing about HIIT is that you can use its work-to-rest ratio formula with basically any form of exercise, including running and swimming. For example, with running, you might sprint at your max for 30 seconds, then jog for a minute, and repeat this five to ten times. Another popular method is Tabata, which is exercising for eight rounds of 20-second intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest. 

HIIT is also best used for effective bodyweight exercises, like burpees, squats, push-ups, and other variations of plyometrics that not only get your heart rate up but also tone and strengthen the body from head to toe.

How Often Should You Do It?

Since HIIT is so intense, it's best to only commit to two to three sessions per week with at least one day in between. If you're not sure how to create your HIIT program, join a boot camp or HIIT class and get a feel for it. And don't forget to bring lots of water! 'Cause you're definitely gonna sweat!  

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