High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular exercise strategy among athletes, used to build cardiovascular levels. This form of exercise is not for the faint of heart, as it involves short, intense workouts that require a lot of motivation.
A major benefit of HIIT training? Serious fat burn.2
Athletes and non-athletes use HIIT as a structured way to build up speed and endurance. Interval training works the body’s aerobic (literally meaning “with oxygen”) and anaerobic (“without oxygen”) systems. During the high-intensity bursts, your anaerobic system (such as your metabolism) uses glycogen, or energy, stored in your muscles, for short bursts of activity. The by-product of this is lactic acid, and as the lactic acid builds, your body enters oxygen debt. During the recovery phase, the heart and lungs work together to repay this debt and break down lactic acid. It is also in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into usable energy.
The belief is that by performing HIIT activities, the body adapts and burns the lactic acid more efficiently during exercise, meaning that eventually, you can exercise at a higher intensity for longer periods of time before fatigue slows you down. Interval training leads to an increase in cardiovascular efficiency, which means a better ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles. This results in improved performance, faster speeds and more endurance.1
When developing a HIIT program, there are a few things to remember.
- Your intensity should be 80% or greater than your estimated maximum heart rate.
- While you are working, it should be challenging to carry on a conversation.
- Your recovery phase should be between 40% and 50% of your estimated maximum heart rate.
- HIIT training can also be very taxing on the body, so try to incorporate it only a few times a week, unless you’re extremely fit.
- Genesis PURE Pro-Arginine or Moomiyo Edge taken beforehand can help you go faster longer.
- Genesis PURE Recovery and Hydration taken afterward can speed up the recovery process.
Sample HIIT Protocols:
There are several different training protocols, which differ in terms of length and ratio for high- and low-intensity intervals and level of intensity during the workout.
- The Tabata Method involves high-intensity intervals. The workout is only four minutes, but involves 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight cycles. A tabata is recommended for an individual already fit and short on time. To practice the Tabata method, warm up for three minutes, sprint for 20 seconds and walk for 10 seconds. Repeat the cycle eight times.4
- The Little Method: The Little method (also sometimes known as the Gibala method) involves a full minute of high intensity followed by 75 seconds of low intensity and is repeated for 12 cycles, or 27 minutes. Again, start with a three-minute warm-up and cycle for 60 seconds quickly, with maximum resistance, and repeat for two minutes. The Little Method is best for those at an intermediate fitness level and with about 30 minutes to devote to their training.5
- Finally, you can alternate high-weight/low-repetitions strength training with high-intensity cardio. Give yourself at least 45 minutes, three times a week; this is a good way to incorporate strength training into your routine. Start gradually and incorporate this method into your regimen over time, as it can be tough on the body. A good example is eight repetitions of a weightlifting exercise, such as bicep curls followed by one minute of jumping rope. This is a great way to get a full body workout.
Safety tips for the beginner:
- Make sure to warm up before starting your intervals.
- Talk with a personal trainer who will set goals within your capabilities.
- Start slowly and build up your endurance.
- Keep a steady pace but make sure you challenge yourself throughout the entire interval.
- Bring your heart rate down to about 100 bpm during your rest interval.
- Finally, make changes slowly over a period of time.
For the advanced:
- Vary your intervals based on your goals.
- Adjust your intensity or speed of the work interval.
- Adjust the duration of the work interval.
- Adjust the duration of the recovery interval and increase your repetitions.
A simple reminder:
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that healthy adults have at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days per week, or 20 minutes or more of vigorous activity three days per week. A combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity, such as HIIT, can help you meet these goals. Strength training should also be performed a minimum of two days each week.3
Gain access to nutritive support for your workouts with the Genesis PURE Sports (GPS) line of products. For pre-exercise, try E2 sports drink formulated with antioxidant vitamin C, minerals and amino acids. Replenish vital fluids, electrolytes and nutrients with Hydration, and support your workout with Moomiyo Edge and Pro-Arginine. For post-exercise, try Recovery for muscle tissue maintenance.
Amy Kurtz BA, BS, CI-CPT, Certified Health Coach
Genesis PURE Wellness Education Specialist
- Gibala, MJ and McGee, SL. Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain? Exercise Sport Science Review 36, 58–63 (2008).
- Tremblay, A. & Jean-Aimé Simoneau, Claude Bouchard. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism 43, 814–818 (1994).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html (2014).
- Tabata, I. et al. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28, 1327–1330 (1996).
- Hood MS, Little JP, Tarnopolsky MA, Myslik F, Gibala MJ. Low-volume interval training improves muscle oxidative capacity in sedentary adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 43, 1849–1856 (2011).