High-intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, is a great workout to burn calories in a short amount of time. HIIT workouts last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, and because they are, well, high in intensity, they improve your cardiovascular health, help you lose weight, and keep your metabolism elevated long after you finish exercising.
As the name indicates, though, these types of workouts are generally high impact on your body, putting a lot of strain on your muscles and joints, so does that mean you should be switching things up every once in a while? Follow the below tips for HIIT training in order to maximize your results in and out of the gym.
Aim For 3 to 5 HIIT Workouts Per Week
Completing a HIIT workout multiple days in a row doesn't leave your body much time to recover between sessions. The general recommendation is to leave 48 hours between intense workouts to maximize your muscle rebuilding and strengthening.
One of the benefits of HIIT exercise is the "afterburn," a result of excess postexercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. It's just what it sounds like: increased oxygen requires increased energy in the body, and increased energy allows you to burn more calories.
If you're pushing yourself to the max during your intervals, EPOC can last for 24 to 48 hours, giving your metabolism a boost and helping you burn more calories at rest. This means if you are completing HIIT workouts three to five times a week, you're getting the benefit of EPOC on a daily basis without needing to burn yourself out in the gym every day.
Complete 1 to 2 Days of Lower-Impact Exercise Per Week
On the days when you don't do a HIIT workout, you can take a rest day or participate in some lower-impact strength training, cardio, or stretching. This can include yoga, Pilates, or resistance training.
Hitting all of your major muscle groups at least once a week is the key to maintaining strength throughout your body. In order to improve your muscle mass, you want to target each muscle group at least twice a week. Stretching will help to ensure you stay flexible and limber and reduces your injury risk long-term, and focusing on your core and balance helps you improve overall stability and posture throughout the body.
If there's a day when you'd like to do cardio but aren't in the mood to sprint, steady-state cardio is the way to go. This means keeping a consistent pace throughout, rather than participating in intervals.
Steady-state workouts are great for any exercise lasting longer than 30 minutes, and you get the same heart-health benefits and calorie burn as you do for HIIT, just with less EPOC.
Vary Your Exercises For Best Results
Your body responds best when it is challenged and you're hitting a variety of muscle groups. If you complete the same workout five days a week, you're going to see limited results over time.
Make sure to introduce different kinds of HIIT workouts and strength training. You can take advantage of machines like a treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical to vary your cardio, or jump in a pool or run outside to mix it up.
Fitness classes are another great way to make sure you're being pushed, and most instructors make a point to change up their workouts week to week. Overall, you want to make sure you have a balance of HIIT, steady-state cardio, strength training, and stretching each week to guarantee those body gains you're looking for.