How To Do HIIT: 11 Reasons To Start Today

Have you heard about HIIT and how it can transform your fitness and metabolism? This post is all about the benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training and how to do HIIT to get an effective workout.

how to do HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training Benefits

It seems like almost every other day there is a new diet or fitness craze. This one magical diet or exercise program that is supposed to work miracles and forever change your life and the shape of your body.

We have Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and barre. And now High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become one of the biggest fitness trends.

And with so much hype surrounding HIIT, jumping on the bandwagon may seem like a no-brainer. But should you try it? Is it worth all the hype?

Well, the short answer is YES! High-intensity interval training can be very beneficial! It has so many benefits and can be extremely helpful if you are trying to lose weight, hit a weight loss plateau, or improve your physical fitness.

And if you want to start exercising but lack motivation, check out this post on exercise motivation. It will help you get the motivation you need to work out regularly.

This post is all about how to do HIIT and the many reasons you should start TODAY!

What Is HIIT?

hiit workout

High-Intensity Interval Training, HIIT for short, consists of alternating short bursts of anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods for a specific amount of time or reps.

During these high-intensity periods, you push yourself to the max, exercising to the point of exhaustion. So exhausted you cannot go any further and thus need a break to recover.

You continue to cycle through high-intensity and recovery periods throughout the entire workout. And you usually do this for between 10 and 30 minutes.

Before we get into how to do HIIT, let’s first discuss some of the benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training.

HIIT Workout Benefits | 11 Reasons To Try HIIT

HIIT workout benefits

1. Can get a good workout in a short period of time

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the ultimate time-saver! If you are busy and struggle to find the time to exercise, you will love HIIT! How often have you heard someone say or even say to yourself, “I just don’t have the time to work out?” Because, let’s face it, most of us are extremely busy.

But what if you could get a good workout in 20 minutes or less?

I mean, a REALLY good workout? Would you be able to fit that into your busy schedule? Well, with High-Intensity Interval Training, there are no more excuses!

If you can find an extra 10 to 30 minutes, you can get an excellent workout!

This makes High-Intensity Interval Training one of the most efficient types of exercise. It allows you to get maximum benefits in minimal time.

2. HIIT burn tons of calories in a short period

HIIT can allow you to burn maximum calories quickly. So not only is it a great time saver, but it can also help you burn more calories, which will help you lose weight FASTER!!

Studies show that this type of exercise can burn 25- 30% more calories than other forms of exercise. In addition to burning more calories, you also burn more fat because your body metabolizes fat for fuel during workouts.

What I love about HIIT is that it is such an effective type of exercise, so effective that even if you have made no other lifestyle changes, i.e., diet and calorie restriction, you can still see results!

12-week study with overweight participants randomly assigned to two groups, an exercise group and a control group, found that participants in the exercise group significantly reduced total fat, belly fat, and visceral fat without making any other lifestyle changes.

Per the Cleveland Clinic, “Visceral fat is belly fat found deep within your abdominal cavity. It surrounds important organs, including your stomach, liver, and intestines. It’s different than subcutaneous fat, which is fat just below your skin.”

This type of fat is very harmful and can cause certain health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. So not only will this type of exercise help you lose weight and flatten your belly, it can improve your health in life-changing ways.

3. Boosts metabolic rate

how to do HIIT on treadmill

So you already know that High-Intensity Interval Training burns a ton of calories while you are doing it, but what about after? Does it have any effects on your metabolism throughout the day?

Well, one of the reasons strength training is so great is because of the calories you burn after you train. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). But how does HIIT fit into this equation?

High-Intensity Interval Training is in the same category of exercise as strength training. They are both forms of anaerobic exercise. So like strength training, you also get that extra metabolism boost with HIIT.

You continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours post-workout! YES, I said 48 hours! This can be really helpful when trying to lose weight. We will dive into how to do HIIT shortly.

4. Build’s endurance

High-Intensity Interval Training allows you to build up your endurance, making you physically stronger and more capable.

Exercising this way builds endurance because you continuously push yourself to the max during those high-intensity periods. This allows you to build stamina and endurance over time. 

5. Improves heart health and blood pressure 

Exercise, in general, is excellent for heart health. It can help lower the risks of developing heart disease and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

High-Intensity Interval Training can help because many say they don’t have time to work out. Still, with High-Intensity Interval Training, you can achieve heart health benefits in shorter periods.

Per The Mayoclinic.org, “A HIIT workout increases your peak oxygen consumption (peak VO2), says Dr. Amanda Bonikowske, an exercise physiologist at Mayo Clinic. VO2 is a measurement of the amount of oxygen your heart can pump throughout your body. Increased peak VO2 is associated with a longer life and a healthier heart.” 

Regular cardio and HIIT training can help build and strengthen your heart muscles. Again, it’s all about getting more benefits in less time, and High-Intensity Interval Training does that. 

HIIT has also been beneficial in reducing blood pressure. A study on 11 men and 27 women found that 73% of those with high blood pressure were able to restore their blood pressure to normal after 24 HIIT sessions over a 2-month, which is pretty impressive!

6. Preserve more muscle

how to do HIIT with weights

One of the biggest problems that can occur with weight loss is muscle loss. Because when we lose weight, we usually don’t just lose fat; we also lose water and muscle.

Preserving muscle mass is very important for our overall health. And if you are trying to lose weight, maintaining muscle mass is essential as it will make losing weight easier. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn! This means a faster metabolism, which is what we want to lose and maintain weight.

This is one of the reasons strength training and building muscle are so important. And as stated earlier, HIIT is an anaerobic exercise similar to strength training.

And like strength training, High-Intensity Interval Training can also reduce muscle loss, allowing you to preserve more muscle during the weight loss process.

7. Reduces blood sugar levels

Stable blood sugar levels are essential for our overall health. High-intensity interval training can help lower blood sugar levels while lowering the risks of type 2 diabetes and improving insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a major precursor to type 2 diabetes. For more information on insulin resistance, see the following post on hormones like insulin and how they effect weight loss. Also, maintaining stable blood sugar levels is incredibly important for successful weight loss. Blood sugar spikes can lead to burning fewer calories, making weight loss much harder.

8. Provides variety

They say variety is the spice of life. And if you crave variety in your workouts, High-Intensity Interval Training is an excellent option. Why?

Because HIIT is very adaptable. You can apply High-Intensity Interval Training to any activity, allowing you to change your workouts quickly and frequently.

If you love to run, you can incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training into your running routine. If you love to walk, bike, dance, or swim, you can incorporate HIIT. The options are endless!

9. Helps you break weight loss plateaus

how to do HIIT at home to break a weight loss plateau

We all know how hard losing weight can be. So, when your weight loss suddenly halts, it can feel devastating. More than likely, you haven’t done anything differently. You are still eating right and exercising, but your weight loss has stopped.

So, what do you do? Well, one thing you could do is learn how to do HIIT. Because High-Intensity Interval Training could help you break your weight loss plateau.

But, how?

Often, our bodies get used to a specific diet or exercise routine. This is where HIIT comes in; it helps you shake things up and get your body back to a place of guessing.

Remember, with HIIT, you alternate between bursts of high-intensity activities with lower-intensity activity or rest. Try incorporating HIIT into your current exercise routine to give your metabolism the jolt it needs. This should help you get back on track and on your way to losing weight again.

10. Improves mental health

You’ve probably heard that exercise is good for your mental health as it has been shown to improve depression and anxiety symptoms. But how does exercise help with depression?

Exercise will not only get your heart rate up but also stimulate the release of endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, a.k.a; the happy hormones. These neurotransmitters help to elevate your mood.

review of 12 Studies on High-Intensity Interval Training and its effects on mental health showed that it can help improve depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, another review examined the impact of High-Intensity Interval Training and regular steady-state cardio on depression.

The review found a greater improvement in depression symptoms in those that performed High-Intensity Interval Training than those who did regular steady-state cardio.

So learning how to do HIIT and incorporating it into your exercise regimen can be very beneficial to your mental health.

11. Improves sleep

what exercises help you sleep better

I’m sure you know how important sleep is, yet many of us don’t get enough. And not getting enough sleep is not only bad for your health but also for weight loss. So if you are struggling to lose weight, lack of sleep may be to blame.

And it’s about more than just getting enough hours of sleep. It’s also about getting quality sleep; both are important. You want to aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.

But how do you get enough quality sleep, especially if falling and staying asleep doesn’t come easy to you? High-Intensity Interval Training may help.

systematic review examined the effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on sleep. Doing 16 minutes or more High-Intensity Interval Training sessions 3 times weekly for at least 12 weeks can significantly improve sleep quality and quantity.

How To Do HIIT Workouts: Getting Started

Before beginning, this or any new fitness regimen, consult your physician and always listen to your body.

Step 1: Stretch/warm-up

Begin with your usual stretch and warm-up routine before starting your High-Intensity Interval Training workout. Aim for a 5-minute warm-up and 5 minutes cooldown. So, let’s get to the next step: how to do HIIT workouts at home, the gym, or anywhere for that matter.

Step 2: Chose your activity

high-intensity interval training examples

To get started, choose one of your favorite activities. Examples include running on a treadmill, outside on the pavement, or jogging in place in your living room.

You could also use any of your favorite machines, including the elliptical, a stationary or road bike, a row machine, or a stair climber.

A jump rope or jumping jacks are also great options.

Remember, it’s not about the activity; it’s about pushing yourself to the max and working yourself to the point of exhaustion during those high-intensity periods.

Step 3: Alternate between short bursts of energy and rest periods

woman doing high intensity workout jumping squats

How should a beginner start HIIT? How long should each interval be? Perform your activity of choice at high intensity. Push yourself as hard and fast as you can, to the point of exhaustion, for 20 seconds.

Then follow your high-intensity interval with a 60-second recovery period performing your activity of choice at a slow to moderate pace.

As a beginner, start by doing between 6 and 10 repetitions of high-intensity intervals. As you become stronger, reduce your recovery period from 60 seconds to 40 seconds. And then, increase your high-intensity period gradually from 20 seconds to 40 seconds.

Work your way up to a one-to-one ratio of 40 seconds high intensity and 40 seconds recovery. You can further challenge yourself by increasing your one-to-one ratio intervals from 40 seconds to a minute.

Doing high intensity for one full minute and then recovering for a full minute.

Do the above intervals continuously for between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level and the amount of time you have to spare.

Common Questions About HIIT

how to do interval running

How often should you perform HIIT?

You shouldn’t do High-Intensity Interval Training every day. Aim for about 1-3 HIIT sessions per week. Incorporate other exercises on off days. On off days, go for a long walk.

Play your favorite sport, or go hiking. You could also do regular-paced cardio on your machine of choice, strength training, or any other activity you enjoy.

Is 20 minutes of HIIT enough?

Twenty minutes of High-Intensity Interval Training is more than enough to get a good workout. You could even get a good workout with just 10 minutes, but aim for between 20 and 30 minutes.

What are proper HIIT intervals?

how long to do HIIT

As stated above, start with 20 seconds of high-intensity activity followed by 60 seconds of rest. Then, increase your high-intensity periods as you get stronger.

A 2019 study showed that one-minute intervals are key to maximum benefits. The goal is to work yourself up to a one-to-one ratio of 60 seconds of high intensity and 60 seconds of rest.

What are 3 examples of HIIT training?

You could work up to 60 minutes of high-intensity activity and 60 minutes of rest. How to do HIIT on a stationary bike or the elliptical? It doesn’t matter what the device is.

The same technique applies. Follow the above “how to do HIIT” for any activity you choose. Some popular HIIT activities include jumping jacks, jumping rope, running, cycling, mountain climbers, burpees, plank jacks, high knees, lunges, and push-ups.

Final Thoughts

High-Intensity Interval Training is so beneficial for many reasons. It has amazing health, fat-burning, and time-saving benefits.

And it can really be the workout routine that takes your fitness and weight loss to a whole new level but exercise caution when just starting out.

Because while HIIT is an excellent workout routine, it may not be right for you. So check with your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.

And let me know below in the comments if you’ve tried HIIT before. Did you like it? Did you find it challenging? What are some of your favorite HIIT workouts?

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