If you are like me, you enjoy getting in a great sweat from your workout. You regularly are in the gym working on your resistance training and it is great! You feel strong and powerful afterward. Your muscles are sore, and you can barely walk after one of these intense workouts. But you feel like something is missing from your workout program. Upon further investigation, you discover that cardio is never in your workouts. You get bored of running for long periods of time and riding a bike for an hour hurts your butt. You think to yourself, this can’t be the only way for me to build up my endurance. The answer is right under your nose, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
WHAT ARE HIIT WORKOUTS?
I think at this point almost everyone has come into contact or heard of HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training. However, not everyone is well-versed in the parameters of HIIT workouts. Which means that most people, and probably you, aren’t actually doing a HIIT workout. And that means you aren’t maximizing the full potential of a HIIT. Keep reading and get more details under “drawbacks”.
The goal of HIIT is to maximize a person’s aerobic capacity. This means your working sets (i.e. the high intensity portion) must be greater than 90% of your VO2 max with recoveries at less than 40%. VO2 max is the volume of oxygen that is being transferred and utilized within the body during exercises. These sections of higher intensity should alternate with the sections of lower intensity. They should be pre-planned to ensure you are getting the proper amount of recovery as well as the most out of your working sets.
WHAT IS THE OBSESSION WITH HIIT WORKOUTS?
People have come to love this style of workout for many reasons. One being that they feel they are getting the most out of their workout because of the amount of sweat and exhaustion they feel afterward. HIIT can be done through many different modes of exercise including at-home cardio workouts.
Another reason why these types of workouts are so popular is because they can be modified to meet anyone at their fitness level. Because it is a workout tailored to finding your limit, it is adjusted to each person. Depending on where you are at in your aerobic capacity, it may be easier to get up into that target range! If you do not feel like you are giving about 90% of your effort, it is time to speed it up or add more weight.
The other great part about a HIIT workout is that it saves time. Although you are working to build up your aerobic capacity, you are no going out and taking an hour run. Instead you can build up your endurance without having to block off half of your day for a workout. HIIT provides the same about of adaptations to your body that long and slow endurance training can. But it saves you time!
WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?
HIIT is almost always misinterpreted and done wrong! Since the average person doesn’t A.) know their VO2 Max and B.) have the ability to measure it during exercise accurately measuring HIIT at home is impossible. The good news is that we are trying to get the most out of our workouts to stimulate an adaptation, not be perfect in VO2 number range.
The way to do this is by pushing yourself to get into the upper range of your heart rate zones (way more manageable to monitor than VO2 Max). Through higher rep counts or more resistance, you can get yourself there. As we mentioned before, this is where HIIT workouts can meet a person where their fitness level is at. A highly conditioned athlete can do more reps in the timed interval than a de-conditioned athlete. But both, if pushing to the 90% range and resting appropriately, can stimulate a physiological adaptation.
Your target heart rate is specific to the individual. It can be dangerous to push your heart rate higher than it is supposed to go and medications you are taking can impact your ability to get a true heart rate reading. If you are highly de-conditioned or on medication you should consult a medical professional before trying a HIIT workout.
Another key component that is missed is REST. Your heart rate has to come back down. If it is not you will not be able to sustain the same level of output, or work. And sustaining your workout output is important in producing the physiological adaptation. So as much as you are watching your heart rate to see it elevate, you need to watch it lower as well.
How to find your max heart rate?
You can find your projected max heart rate by taking 220 minus your current age. If you are feeling like you are light-headed, dizzy, or faint, then it is time to stop the workout. And remember if you are on any medication measuring your heart rate at home can give you skewed results.
HOW TO USE HIIT WORKOUTS AT HOME
Below are two HIIT workouts that you can do from your living room. No equipment required! I made one that is for beginners and one that is more advanced! Be sure to push yourself, but be smart and safe, especially when working with heart rate training 😊.
You don’t need much at home for a HIIT workout, but here are my essentials. I’ve included a yoga mat or a large exercise mat that is 4 by 6 feet. Great for if you are doing a lot of at-home workouts!
I also included my favorite water bottle for on-the-go. The Hydroflask water bottle is great because it keeps water cold and has two different caps for if you need it closed or easy access. I have included here the one with a sport cap. Great for grabbing a quick drink during your rest interval!
My favorite lululemon headband is also linked. I have struggled with find the right non-slip headband. This one has stuck with me through playing college volleyball and has stayed on during an entire match of me diving and sweating! It is the perfect non-slip headband for not letting sweat drip into your eyes!
Last I included different heart rate trackers. I have the apple watch which I absolutely love. I have had my apple watch series 2 for about 3 years now. It has been awesome for keeping track of my everyday movements and exercises. It even has an exercise mode for HIIT workouts. The other two are ones owned by my family and friends that they have also enjoyed. They both have great reviews from my in-person experience and in the their comments.
These are affiliate links. While there is no cost to you when you order through them, I do make a commission. Your support, by ordering through them, is greatly appreciated!
YOGA MAT | LARGE EXERCISE MAT | WATER BOTTLE | HEADBAND | APPLE WATCH | FIT BIT | POLAR WATCH
The important thing to recognize about HIIT Training is that it is not an everyday workout and the rest between is a key part of it! You may feel like you are getting a great sweat and workout in, but you are only training in the aerobic state. Strength and power should also be key elements of your training regimen. If HIIT is a part of your program, try to leave two days between HIIT workouts to ensure full recovery.
HIIT can be a great training tool in getting to where you want to go with your endurance goals. If you are like me and running a couple miles a day is not your cup of tea, HIIT is a great alternative for you to find your limits without the time consumption!
And if you enjoy this fitness trend breakdown you should check out the articles on circuit training and Tabata workouts.
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