What is a HIIT workout anyway?

Posted by Anthea England on | Tags: Fitness

HIIT is one fitness trend that’s definitely here to stay. However, unlike some more questionable trends, HIIT deserves its cred. It can deliver big results in very little time. It's science-backed. And it's easy to get started – there’s little to no equipment required! Tick, tick, tick!

If you’re new to training or haven’t tried HIIT before, we’ve got the ultimate beginner’s guide for you. We quizzed personal trainer Cassie Grul, the owner and head coach of CJ Coaching and Performance about what HIIT involves and how to get started!

Cassie Grul HIIT workout

Personal Trainer Cassie Grul - owner and head coach of CJ Coaching and Performance

So, what exactly is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It is a style of training for cardiovascular exercise and conditioning that uses high intensive bursts of exercise and short low intensive rest periods to increase your heart rate, caloric expenditure and burn fat.

Can you give us an example of a typical session? 
A typical HIIT method is 30 seconds work and 30 seconds rest. I like to use various exercises and equipment to keep the session interesting and use as many muscles as possible! An example of this would be burpees, squats, mountain climbers and push ups. I would repeat this circuit through twice using the 30 seconds work and 30 seconds rest method (it would take 8 minutes to complete). Then I’d have a 2 minute rest break and then continue for another 8 minute circuit. Don’t forget to do a 5 minute warm up beforehand and 5 minute cool down at the end of the session.

What other kind of exercises can it involve?
HIIT can be done in so many different ways! It can be done on typical cardio equipment like the treadmill, bike, rower and cross trainer. You can make it interesting by doing various full body exercises as well. As I mentioned, I like exercises such as jump squats, push ups, burpees and overhead presses. It’s great because you can do bodyweight exercises if you don’t have access to gym equipment and still have a great workout. As long as you are working those interval times of work and rest you can do just about any exercise.

What are the benefits?
Benefits of HIIT include:

  • You can get your workout done in a short amount of time
  • Assists in weight loss 
  • Increases cardio endurance and work capacity
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Burns fat
  • Challenges your fast twitch fibres, which are responsible for speed and power
  • It’s a lot more entertaining than running on the treadmill!

Typically HIIT sessions are pretty short. Can HIIT be as effective as a longer, lower intensity session?
Studies show that HIIT seems to be more beneficial when trying to lose weight than a steady state cardio session. During a HIIT session you are able to go harder and faster than what you would be doing in a lower intensity session. During a HIIT session you want to be working at approximately 85-90% of your max while a Steady State Cardio session might only use 65-70% of your max. By working at a higher level you are able to get your workout done quicker, speed up your rate of fat loss, get more health benefits and you can also do body specific training. For example, you can focus on your legs by doing sprints or box jumps. This doesn’t mean that lower intensity cardio isn’t beneficial, but you may get a slightly better result by doing HIIT.

What if you’re new to training? Can you try it at any fitness level?
Yes definitely! Anyone of any fitness level can do HIIT even if you have never been in a gym before. You can participate in particular HIIT classes or talk to a personal trainer about introducing HIIT into your training.

Is there anything to watch out for if you’re just getting started?

  1. If you suffer from any severe muscle or joint pain ensure you get checked and cleared by your GP or health professional before commencing any HIIT sessions. This also goes for any medical conditions that might stop you from doing various exercises. 
  2. Go at your own pace and don’t completely smash yourself in the first session, take some extra rest breaks if needed.
  3. If you plan to do 2 or more HIIT sessions per week ensure you space it out during the week to ensure you get 1 or 2 rest days in between so you can recover and be ready for your next session. 
  4. Ensure you have an adequate amount of water and a towel with you when you get started. It’s thirsty and sweaty work!
  5. Ensure you warm up and cool down to prevent injuries and ensure you get particular muscles working for what you will be doing in your session.

About Cassie

Cassie Grul personal trainer

Cassie Grul is the owner and Head Coach of CJ Coaching and Performance. She’s a personal trainer based in Sydney and also offers specialised online coaching programs and tailored nutritional advice. Cassie has 3 years experience in personal training and she is passionate about helping people achieve their fitness and health goals and build confidence to achieve long lasting results while living a balanced lifestyle. She has also competed and placed 1st in various Bikini Bodybuilding competitions and knows what it takes to work hard and get great results! You can connect with Cassie here: Facebook | Instagram | Website

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