Shorter, More Intense Workouts: The Beginner's Guide To HIIT

Better results in less time? Yes, please.

High Intensity Interval Training, aka HIIT, is the antithesis of the calm and Zen yoga life that has dominated Instagram fitness feeds for the past few years. If you like to push yourself, don’t have that much time in your life for exercise and want to get fit (or just want to stop panting for breath every time you climb a couple of stairs) then you should totally try doing HIIT.

Let’s break down what HIIT is exactly

You might have guessed from the not-so-cryptic name that these are high intensity workouts, so they’re not for the faint-hearted. However, don’t let your faint heart hold you back (unless you’ve got a medically-diagnosed faint heart in which case take it easy, girl); you should definitely give it a go. A HIIT session will last just 30 minutes, which even the least fit among us can manage.

HIIT involves intense bursts of exercise followed by a short recovery period, repeated a number of times. By pushing your heart rate to the max, letting it chill for a bit, then pushing it back up again you are getting a lot more done in a shorter amount of time. This is why a short sprint is actually way more worth your while than jogging for double the amount of time. These short bursts improve your stamina so you’ll be able to workout for longer without feeling like a demon is clamping down on your lungs. You will notice results really, really quickly too, which is super motivating.

A good HIIT session will have you burning about 10 calories a minute but even better it boosts your metabolism so you’ll keep burning them after your workout. I know right; it’s basically witchcraft.

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This sounds pretty intense; is it really for me?

HIIT is ideal for lazy people who are open to pushing themselves for just half an hour. The element of High Intensity Interval Training that makes it perfect for most of us is that it is adjustable. You’re supposed to be giving it 100% effort, but if you want to give it, like, 75% effort on some days that’s okay. Your followers will just have to wait a little longer for those photos of you squatting in some high-waisted leggings showing off that line down the middle of your stomach. Try HIIT if you’re looking to spice up your workout game, really push yourself and if you’re looking for noticeable improvements to your stamina ASAP.

What are the benefits?

It’s been shown that an intense workout is more beneficial than a long workout. Going all out for just 30 minutes will be way more effective than your usual half-hearted hour-long gym session. You burn more fat, get fitter and improve your heart health, all in less time. You need to really push yourself during your sessions to get the benefits of HIIT though so think sprinting, not just running.

You don’t need any fancy equipment to do a HIIT session and there are tons of free videos on YouTube just waiting for you to sweat in your lounge to. Just make sure you cover your laptop’s webcam with some tape just in case there is an FBI agent watching you and laughing. Because there are infinite variations of HIIT workouts you won’t get bored. One day you can do burpees, the next you can do push ups! Sure, they both kind of suck but it will all be over in half an hour, okay.

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Give me some examples of a HIIT workout

The most basic HIIT you can do it the classic walk-and-sprint. All you will need is a field or somewhere straight you can run (the more private the better TBH ‘cos you’re going to be pretty red-faced afterwards). Walk for 30 seconds (chilled), then sprint flat-out for 30 seconds (slightly less chilled). Repeat this for 30 minutes. The first few reps you will be thinking ‘Damn, this is easy; me and Wayde van Niekerk are going to be the cutest power-couple ever!’. After a few reps, however, you’re going to feel a bit like you’re dying. This is normal; push through. The endorphin rush is real and should kick in shortly.

More examples of HIIT workouts (all to be done until your 30 minutes is up):

-10 push-ups followed by 30 seconds of rest.

-10 squats followed by 30 seconds rest (noticeable butt improvement guaranteed).

-15 second sprint, 10 push ups and 10 squats followed by 1 minute rest (it’s an absolute killer but it hits all the good bits).

How often to do HIIT

It depends on your fitness levels at first. If you’re starting from the bottom then do just one session a week to begin with. Your fitness will go up really quickly and soon you’ll be opting for the stairs over the lift (JK let’s not be ridiculous). If you’re used to working out then you can go for three to five times a week.

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