High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of interval training, a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic activity.

We all enjoy a bit of cardio and effective strength training makes you feel toned and satisfied. However some of the biggest improvements can be made by HIIT training.

Lessons from running

Runners already know that improving your time for specific distances must include tempo runs, sprints and hill running as well as the more cardio based long slow runs for stamina and other core strength exercises.

Increasing intensity and doing intervals is the only way to get faster in running. This approach is used in HIIT training and can be a very efficient way of boosting fitness, delivering tangible, measurable results.

A type of high-intensity interval training with short recovery periods was used in the 1970s by the athletics coach Peter Coe when setting sessions for his son Sebastian Coe. Inspired by the principles propounded by the German coach and university professor Woldemar Gerschler and the Swedish physiologist Per-Olof Åstrand, Coe set sessions involving repeated fast 200 meter runs with only 30 seconds recovery between each fast run.

Typical HIIT routinesHIIT training

A HIIT routine should supplement rather than fully replace your sport or goal specific training. It is supposed to be full on and very vigorous so be aware of signs of strain and injury.

Here is a suggested Home HIIT workout from Nuffield Health:

Home HIIT workout

Warm up – do each exercise for 45 seconds

  • Jog on the spot
  • Bodyweight squat
  • Jog on the spot
  • Reverse lunge
  • Jog on the spot
  • Push ups.

Main workout – perform 3 sets of each exercise and active recovery before moving on to the next exercise

  • Squat and reverse diagonal lunge – 45 seconds
  • Active recovery (jog on the spot) – 30 seconds
  • Push up – 45 seconds
  • Active recovery (jog on the spot) – 30 seconds
  • Forward lunge – 45 seconds
  • Active recovery (jog on the spot) – 30 seconds
  • Jump outs – 45 seconds
  • Active recovery (jog on the spot) – 30 seconds
  • Plank with shoulder taps – 45 seconds
  • Active recovery (jog on the spot) – 30 seconds.

Cool down

  • Walk on the spot – 5 seconds
  • Backwards shoulder rolls (6–7 shoulder rolls)
  • Forwards shoulder rolls (6–7 shoulder rolls)
  • Reach overhead and then bend forwards – rest for 5 seconds before slowly rolling back up to standing
  • Reach overhead and lean to your right – rest for 5 seconds
  • Return to the centre and lean to your left – rest for 5 seconds
  • Return to the centre.

As with all new training sessions be careful and listen to your body. HIIT sessions should be followed by rest or easy cardio sessions to ensure you get the full benefit.

Further reading and credits

High Intensity Interval Training

What is HIIT training

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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