With dozens of options for exercises it can be pretty confusing. Therefore, understanding what you’re getting yourself into is key to loving your workout. When it comes to HIIT workouts, these types of workouts are meant for those looking for high intensity, fast paced routines. If 30 minutes of exercise is all you can fit in daily, then this is the workout you need.
What is HIIT?
HIIT or high intensity interval training, is a workout regimen focused on cardio exercises in the form of intervals. This means that the exercises take place in a fast paced high intensity manner with rest periods meant to be less intense. The main idea behind this form of exercise is to get your heart pumping and to exercise until you can’t anymore.
Something to keep in mind is that while HIIT exercises tend to focus on cardio it is not limited to this. In other words, weight training can also be included in a HIIT workout plan. You’re probably wondering how long these sessions should be, right? Well, while there is not a real time stamp for these types of exercises, the general rule of thumb is for them to last around 30 minutes. If you’re still new to the HIIT world of exercise you may want to reduce that time and adjust for your fitness level.
Another thing to focus on is the time you do each exercise. When doing these high intensity exercises, the general consensus is to do no more than 20 seconds per exercise with a 10 second rest in between.
So you’re looking at starting up your own HIIT workout routine but not sure what you have to gain. For starters, HIIT workouts are able to increase your athletic capacity. Not only that, you’ll experience better conditioning and a better glucose metabolism. What does that mean?
Your glucose metabolism consists of multiple processes including gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis, glycolysis, and glycogenesis. Glycolysis takes place in the liver and it encourages glucose catabolism in cells. Gluconeogenesis occurs when there is a glucose synthesis from non-carb components in our mitochondria located in liver cells. When fasting, our pancreas secretes glucagon that then starts up the glycogenolysis process. And finally, glycogenesis occurs when we have excess carbs in our livers. This is the process where glycogen is synthesized.
What does that all mean for you? It means that you’re able to improve your carb and sugar consumption. Keep in mind that while HIIT exercises may not work best for treating obesity or hyperlipidemia, they can still reduce fat mass.
How HIIT Works
In many cases, HIIT workouts begin with a warm up phase. Once this is completed the real work begins. This means that you’ll complete high intensity exercises paired with medium exercises to promote recovery. Once you’ve completed your hit routine you’ll want to include a cool down phase to allow your body some down time.
The most common formula to complete your HIIT workout is a 2 to 1 ratio. In other words, if you do a 30 second exercise at high intensity, then you’ll want to do a 15 second medium intensity workout.
Difference Branches of HIIT
As with many other exercises there are different variations to HIIT as well. The most common include the peter coe method, tabata, gibala, zuniga, and vollaard. Let’s take a look at each so that you can gain a general understanding of which one may work best for you.
If you know anything about the 1970s athletics coach Peter Coe, then you’ll know that this form if HIIT was popularized by him. He primarily focused these workouts on his son Sebastian Coe and they included high intensity exercises with short recovery periods. The main premise of his variation was to quickly run 200 meters and then only have 30 seconds of rest just to run that same 200 meters again.
If running 200 meters repeatedly isn’t something that sounds appealing then maybe tabata is a better fit. This variation of HIIT was popularized by a 1996 study done by Izumi Tabata a professor at the Ritsumeikan University. This variation includes 20 seconds of highly intense exercises with 10 seconds of rest in between. This takes place for 4 minutes or 8 cycles.
If you’re more for an intense variation of HIIT, then Gibala is what you’re looking for. In this version of HIIT, the participant does a whole 60 seconds (1 minute) of an intense exercise followed by 75 seconds (1 minute 15 seconds) of rest. This variation can also be completed in 8 cycles or go up to as many as 12 cycles.
Now, if the last few options still seem like they’re too much, then perhaps you want something more on the lines of 50/50. That is what you’ll find in zuniga. In this variation of the HIIT workout spectrum you would essentially do 30 seconds of high intensity workouts followed by a 30 second rest period. There is no set time frame to complete this variation nor is there a cycle number.
Last but not least is the vollaard method. It is a 10 minute variation of the HIIT workout. In that 10 minutes you’re primarily on a stationary bike or actual bike. You would do 20 seconds of fast paced pedaling mixed in with easy relaxed pedaling. It is done on a 20-20 second time frame. Therefore you would do 20 seconds of relaxed pedaling and 20 seconds of intense pedaling.
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