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High-Intensity Interval Training for Busy Lifestyles

Why High-Intensity Interval Training Gives Your Workout Life

In 2017, it can be hard to find the time to hit the road for hours every week to bike or jog. Thankfully, this isn’t necessary. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is not only more effective than steady state cardio (traditional roadwork)- it also requires less time.

What is HIIT?

HIIT comes in a variety of flavors, but they all adhere to the same basic principles. Exercises are performed at max or near-max levels of intensity; during the exercise portion of an interval, you go all out or close to it in your effort. The exercise is then followed by a rest period. Then the next interval begins.

Because high-intensity interval training involves such intense effort, it stimulates muscle activity. This gives your workouts an anaerobic aspect; traditional cardio only addresses aerobic fitness. All of this adds up to more calories burned, both during and after workouts, and lean mass being conserved while fat is burned.

Exercise choices

One great thing about HIIT is that it’s a protocol that works well for almost any kind of exercise. If you are partial to traditional forms of cardio, like running or cycling, you can easily run or cycle in an HIIT fashion. If you usually skip cardio and you gravitate toward the weights, you can lift in an HIIT fashion. And if you don’t have a gym or much space --or you’re traveling and currently in a hotel--you can do an HIIT routine in a confined area.

How to do HIIT

All HIIT programs follow the same basic guidelines; the particulars differ based on a myriad of factors, including individual preference. These are my preferred high-intensity interval training methods:

  • Lifting, HIIT-style. Take your favorite workout program. It can be made up of total body workouts or body part split workouts. Decrease your rest times to 30-60 seconds. Your heart rate will stay high throughout the entire workout. Depending on your diet, you will retain or even build lean muscle mass. Note: Don’t be a tough guy. This is hard, so you’ll want to reduce your poundages considerably, especially if you are lifting heavy (1-5 rep max range). Make sure you can perform all the exercises safely and with proper form.
  • Tabata. Tabata is one of the tougher HIIT protocols and might not be a good place to start. That said, the entire workout only takes four minutes; it’s hard to beat tabata in the bang-for-buck department. Tabata consists of twenty second max effort work, followed by ten seconds of rest. You then do this seven more times, for a total of eight intervals. You can do this running (sprint 20”, light jog 10”), cycling, skipping rope or with bodyweight exercises.
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