May 25

What Actually is HIIT?


High Intensity Interval Training.


The first thing to say on this subject is that most of the ‘HIIT’ stuff we see on social media is not actually true HIIT.


Working really hard for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, or 60 seconds or whatever, is actually aerobic training not HIIT.


True high intensity training is pushing to your absolute limit for a very short burst and then taking a long rest to recover.


For example a 10 second sprint followed by up to 3 minutes rest.


The only way to sustain high intensity intervals is to have adequate rest.


When you see athletes training at high intensity to improve their power or their top end capacity,


they do very, very short intervals at very, very high effort.


Each short interval is followed by a long rest.


It can be varied with the ratio of rest to work becoming shorter if the work interval becomes longer.


For example, a 1 minute sprint followed by a 3 – 5 minute rest, because a slightly different energy system is being used.


30 seconds on/30 seconds off or 60 seconds on/60 seconds off or even 60 seconds on and just 20 seconds off, may be very hard but it is not HIIT.


Whenever the rest period is equal to or shorter than the work period its aerobic training not anaerobic.


Often what happens when we do this type of interval training is that we become tired,


We do fewer and fewer reps each interval and this is not sustainable.


We are just teaching our bodies how to become tired.


Also, as we continue with the intervals, the quality of the press up or the squat starts to deteriorate.


Sometimes we even regress movements to make them easier to allow us to continue.


It feels very hard and very ‘intense’ but this is not HIIT training.


If you want to do interval training and you find it enjoyable, set yourself up with a circuit you can sustain.


Work at 60 – 80% effort levels, aim to do the same number of reps each interval, with good quality.


You will be building your aerobic base efficiently and not just getting tired.


You do not need to do HIIT to lose weight or get fit.


You do not need to do high intense work to lose body fat and get in shape.


You do not even need to do interval training of any sort, if you don’t enjoy it.


Just go for a nice long walk, jog or bike ride.


Lift weights, eat the appropriate amount of food and you will still see results.


There is no point in doing any exercise you do not enjoy, thinking it will get you faster results.


No exercise will bring you results if you don’t enjoy it and cannot be consistent with it.



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