Does the phrase "high intensity" scare you when talking about a workout? It shouldn’t.


Tip of the Week

Does the phrase “high intensity” scare you when talking about a workout? It shouldn’t.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is becoming increasingly popular across the fitness world for its effectiveness in burning fat, improving athletic performance and increasing aerobic capacity. It’s an exercise strategy that alternates periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods.

“It’s usually done between 5-30 minutes and is touted to be comparable and sometimes more effective than long, steady bouts of aerobic exercise,” says Paige Jones, an exercise physiologist at the Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, adding that other benefits include increased resting metabolic rate up to 24 hours after the session and improved insulin sensitivity.

Here’s how to get started with HIIT:

• Do the math. There’s no specific formula, Jones says: “There are methods named after the principal investigators of HIIT studies, but the sky is the limit when developing a regimen. A basic HIIT training framework involves a dynamic warm-up, three to 10 high-intensity exercises, which can range from 10 seconds to one minute, and medium-intensity exercises for as little as 10 seconds and as much as two minutes.” A cool-down ends the session.

• Try the treadmill. If you’re comfortable running 5.2 mph, for example, run 7 mph for 30 seconds followed by 4.8 mph for 45 seconds to recover. Repeat for 10 cycles to be able to run farther and burn more calories.

• Use your body. If you don’t have or don’t want to use cardio equipment, try hill sprints outside, jump lunges, burpees or high knees with lower-intensity drills mixed in. “The more fit you are, the harder you can make these sessions by manipulating the high-intensity and recovery time periods,” Jones says.

• It’s not for everyone. You need to be able to withstand high-impact, complex movement patterns and work at a high level for short periods of time, Jones says. Modify drills if needed, and most importantly, have fun.

— Amber Krosel, More Content Now