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A happier, healthier you

The Many Health Benefits of HIIT Workouts

by Chloe Treleven

No time to exercise? But still striving to fit a great workout into your day (especially after lots of driving and sitting and more driving)? It’s high time you tried high-intensity interval training (HIIT). 

What is HIIT?

HIIT integrates short bursts of intense exercise (i.e. sprinting, biking, jump rope, burpees, stairs, etc.) with low-intensity recovery periods (i.e. walking) in between for 15-45 minutes. It’s considered one of the most time-efficient ways to exercise because it gives you similar health benefits as when you do twice as much moderate-intensity exercise.

What are some HIIT benefits?
  • Get maximum health benefits in minimal time 
  • Do them anywhere–at the gym, home or outside–and in groups or on your own
  • Increases endurance and strength (including strengthening the cardiovascular system)
  • Create your own circuits depending on your level of fitness and physical abilities
  • Burn more calories in a short period of time 
  • Increase your metabolism so you continue to burn calories for hours after you stop exercising (this is effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning)
  • Train your body to use fat for energy rather than carbs
  • Reduce body fat and waist circumference
  • Gain muscle mass
  • Improve oxygen consumption
  • Reduce heart rate and blood pressure (especially in overweight or obese individuals)
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Because the high intensity exercise stresses the body, it forces the body to adapt (which may help one progress through a “plateau”)
How do I start a HIIT program?

HIIT workouts are super flexible, so simply begin by choosing a set of  activities and repeat them 3-5 times through, including brief rest periods in between. 

Make sure to keep the rest time between exercises to less than 30 seconds and and limit the recovery between circuits to 60-90 seconds. The idea is to keep your heart rate up as much and as long as possible during your workout. In the beginning, you may have to increase your recovery interval to 2-3x the work intervals. As you increase your strength and stamina, that recovery time will eventually drop to a 1:1 ratio.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Circuit #1 

  • Dumbbell Squat to press (as many as you can in 30 seconds)
  • Treadmill walk or jog (30-60 seconds of recovery) 

Circuit #2

  • Goblet squats (as many as you can in 30-45 seconds)
  • Rowing machine (as far as you can go in 30-45 seconds)
  • Leg raises or plank (30-90 seconds, this should bring the heart rate down a little)

Circuit #3

  • Step back lunge (30-45 seconds each leg)
  • Romanian deadlift with row at the bottom (as many as you can in 30-45 seconds)
  • Spin bike (moderate pace/ 3-4 word sentences max for 30-45 seconds)
  • 3 count bicycles (30-90 seconds)

Tabata is another “flavor” of HIIT training. Traditional tabata emphasizes 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of recovery or 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of recovery repeated for 4 minutes total (e.g. either 8 rounds or 4 rounds depending on your interval duration). Here are two quick examples: (1) 20 seconds of squat jumps, 10 second rest for 8 sets; (2) 40 seconds of mountain climbers, 20 seconds of rest. 

Check out Coach Chloe’s video below for an example of a Tabata workout:

HIIT Basics from Chloe Treleven on Vimeo.

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