HIIT (training)

7 October 2015 by
First published: 15 February 2014

HIIT (training)

HIIT training has really taken off in the fitness world in recent years. Not only has it managed to change the perception of cardio from long, slow runs to more intense-style training, but it’s also revolutionised fat burn and fitness for good.

Gone are the days when steady-state cardio ruled the roost. When it comes to fat burn, HIIT training – or high intensity interval training – is the way forward thanks to its calorie-blasting potential. ‘To think of steady state cardio as the superior way to burning fat is a dated viewpoint,’ explains personal trainer Dan Lawrence (danlawrencetraining.com). ‘This is because it was thought that more fat was used by the body as fuel during lower intensity exercise than higher intensity – otherwise known as the fat-burning zone. But the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) that interval training is known for means that you burn a higher percentage of calories up to 36 hours after a workout. It also allows you to operate at a much higher intensity for a longer period of time than when keeping a steady pace, so overall the fat burning potential is higher.’

A lot of people who tend to get bored easily by exercise have also had success when adopting HIIT training via circuit training, sprint sessions and spin classes. ‘It’s much less monotonous for those who find running at one speed for extended periods of time boring,’ adds Dan. ‘Because of the stop/start structure, you’ll always be focused on completing your next interval rather than clock watching to see when your long run will be over.’

Dan’s top tips:

1. Do some form of aerobic conditioning for 3-4 weeks before introducing HIIT training (which is anaerobic). This will give you the basic conditioning necessary for the demands of HIIT.

2. Then move onto 60 seconds on the treadmill or bike at one speed followed by 60 seconds at an active recovery pace, increasing the amount of times repeated as the weeks go on.

3. Upon seeing improvement, increase the challenge by either reducing the recovery period or increasing the speed.

4. If using HIIT to improve sporting performance, you should structure the intervals with accordance to the demands of your sport.