Fitness & Nutrition

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) – What you may not know…

hiit-hulkHigh Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Tabata Training, Burst Training, Renegade Cardio, Finishers… whatever you want to call it, is awesome in its perfection.

It’s efficiency is unparalleled in the realm of fitness.  And when I say, “efficiency”, I mean it applies to fat burning, EPOC, aerobic (cardiovascular), AND anaerobic increases.  You don’t have to trust me on this, check out the bottom of the article for all of the study reference links, as well as popular & reliable fitness publications and blogs saying the same thing.

What are the other blogs NOT telling you about this miracle exercise process?

In other words, if it’s so amazing, why doesn’t everyone do it?  Why am I not doing it every day?  Or right now even???

Quite simply, because it’s hard.  I don’t mean hard in the way that a crazy spinning class, or lifting very heavy weights, or doing a whole lot of squats is hard.  Those are all examples of (potentially) quite difficult types of training.  The difference with HIIT is that it’s (incredibly) MENTALLY tough.

In order for this type of training to have the benefits described in the studies and articles that I reference, in order for it to be quantifiably different and more impactful than other types of training mentioned, you must kick your own azz.  You have to go ALL OUT during the “on” part of the interval.  “All out” = 100%.  And then you have to do it again, and again, and again… UNTIL.YOU.COLLAPSE.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating with the “collapse” comment, but it’s not that far from the truth.  If you want the benefits, you have to conduct the training in the manner prescribed – MAX EFFORT.  Max effort does not equal pacing yourself so that you can finish the workout.  Max effort does not mean barely warming up and then starting the intervals.  More than a bit of sweat when you start the intervals is preferred – You need to be able to go hard, without fear of injury due to cold muscles or joints.

Once you’ve done a HIIT training session the way it should be done, the real problem lies in doing it again.  Most people don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into the first time.  “How hard can 4 minutes (Tabata) really be?,” they think.  Once done (and I use the word “done” loosely, as I don’t know anyone who’s attempted a Tabata session, and properly completed 8 rounds the first time they try), they never want to do it again.  And the next time they try, they fake their way through it, all the while convincing themselves that it wasn’t as hard the second time… when in actuality, they mentally and physically cushioned themselves by holding back a bit.

HIIT should not be confused with circuit training, low-rest training, or super-setting (all great in their own ways, just not the same thing as HIIT.)  Here’s a hint:  If you’ve heard someone say that they did a 40 minute HIIT training session the other day… It wasn’t HIIT.  By definition, it just cannot be done for that long, and it doesn’t matter who you are.

The reality is that most people are unwilling to work that hard, even if it’s for a significantly shorter amount of time with more benefits.  They’d rather read a magazine or watch TV on the treadmill for 40 minutes.  And even they’re the folks that are working out more efficiently than that (resistance training, circuits, etc.), getting the nerve up to try a real HIIT session again can be a daunting one.

Trust me, I know.

So… Who wants to give it a shot?




Science Daily:

Tabata Study:

HIIT Training Effects on Fat Oxidation:

Effects of Exercise Intensity and Duration on the Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption:

Metabolic Adaptations related to sprint intervals vs. endurance training:


Built Lean:

I hate this magazine, but for the ladies that need validation: