At No Limits Fitness, one of the biggest misconceptions we hear from potential members is the belief that you need to be in great shape to start a HIIT program.
That’s like waiting until you’re in perfect health before going to the doctor…
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, so I can understand the reasoning behind this concern.
After all, “HIGH INTENSITY” is right there in the title.
If you’re just starting back to working out after a long hiatus, you may think to yourself, high intensity probably isn’t the best place for me to start.
However, what people often misunderstand is that the “high intensity” part is at YOUR level. If that involves you marching in place rather than doing jump ropes, then that’s where you need to start.
We all have to start somewhere. If you wanted to start running, you don’t start with the Boston Marathon…you would run a shorter distance.
As you read on, you’ll learn that HIIT workouts are very flexible. The different variations of workouts that you can customize to fit YOU and your fitness level are boundless.
So what exactly is HIIT?
HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a training technique where you go all out through quick intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.
The work-to-rest intervals will vary based on the exercise(s) you choose, and the intensity level.
One of the most popular and effective HIIT formats is Tabata. It consists of 8 rounds of one or two different high intensity exercises in 20 second intervals with 10 seconds of rest between, totaling 4 minutes.
Tabatas can be very intense, and probably not the best place for beginners to start. I would suggest increasing the rest period, and performing less intense exercises like basic squats, knee push ups, and/or low impact lunges if you are a true beginner.
Is HIIT for everyone?
There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when starting ANY new fitness program. First and foremost, make sure you are cleared by your doctor for physical activity.
You may think high intensity interval training isn’t right for you. And that’s ok. Everyone is different, and you have to do what’s best for you and your body. If you’re looking at going to a gym or studio, you’ll want to do your research on different places.
Not all gyms/studios are a good fit for you when it comes to HIIT workouts. Ask staff questions about class duration, intensity levels, the different exercises, and what kind of modifications, if any, are they able to make for someone just coming back from an injury, surgery, illness, extended hiatus, or someone who has never worked out before. Be upfront with them about any injuries or ailments you currently have or have had in the past, and see how they respond.
I’d even ask about nutrition to see how knowledgeable they are. Remember, this healthy lifestyle journey we’re all on is about 80% nutrition and 20% fitness. If nutrition is something you struggle with, and they’re not able to assist you with that, then you may need to keep looking.
Through these questions, you may find that HIIT isn’t right for you, just how marathons, power lifting, or cycling isn’t for everyone. But on the other hand, you may find that it’s exactly what you’ve been missing, needing, and even wanting. The most important thing is to find the place where YOU feel comfortable so you can stay consistent.
Here are some of the benefits of incorporating high intensity interval training into your workout routine.
• Efficient Workouts
One of the biggest reasons people say they are unable to start a workout routine is that they don’t have the time. I can’t begin to tell you the importance of taking time to take care of yourself so that you can properly care for others, but I digress. That’s a whole other article I’ll save for another day. 😊
A typical HIIT workout can take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. And research shows that you will achieve better progress than someone jogging on the treadmill for an hour. Better results in less time…sounds like a win to me!
• Minimal Equipment Needed
Mountain climbers, jumping jacks, push ups, plyo-lunges, pull ups, squats, and burpees are all examples of exercises you can do that will increase your heart rate. And they require no equipment! Select about 4 – 6 exercises that will get your heart rate up, decide what interval of work-to-rest you want to use, determine your number of rounds, and go for it!
• You can do it anywhere.
Because you don’t NEED to have equipment to do HIIT, you can do it at home before you start your day, or at your kid’s soccer practice. And if you’re brave enough, even at the airport during a layover!
What better way to reduce stress while waiting another 2 hours to board your plane!? Don’t get too sweaty though, the other passengers may not appreciate it too much.
• Lose Fat, not Muscle.
Muscle loss is typically associated with steady state cardio exercise if you’re not implementing any kind of resistance training. But studies show that muscle retention, and even gains in some cases, is associated with high intensity interval training. All of the above exercises utilize body weight as your “weight”, allowing you to retain muscle while still losing fat.
• You’ll increase your metabolism.
Through Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), you can burn calories 24 – 36 hours AFTER your workout. Basically, what this means is that during a HIIT session, your heart rate is raised to a level that it increases your body’s need for oxygen.
Your body tries to overcompensate during your short rest periods as well as after the workout is complete. During steady state you’re maintaining a consistent heart rate so it takes less time for your oxygen levels to regulate, and for you to recover.
These are just a few of the benefits of HIIT, as there are countless others. But the question remains “Is HIIT right for me?”
Maybe, maybe not. We’re all different and that’s fine.
The main thing to take away from this is that you shouldn’t be intimidated by HIIT. It’s an adaptable workout that can be modified to help almost anyone meet their goals. Use the information above to help you determine your next step towards a healthy lifestyle.