There’s a reason you see more and more HIIT workouts around in gyms, in bootcamp classes, or even in apps: because HIIT works.
I’ve been a fan of high intensity interval training (HIIT) for years now, and still consider it the absolute best, bang for your buck workout you can do, no matter what your fitness level.
If you’re not exactly sure what HIIT is or why you should do it, here’s why you should love it as much as I do:
The Basics of HIIT
High intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are an advanced style of interval training where you alternate periods of short, intense exercise with less intense recovery periods.
Basically this means you’ll be working as hard as you possibly can for a short amount of time, resting, then working hard again. Each work period should feel like a sprint—you should be giving it all you’ve got if you want to get maximum results.
An entire HIIT session should really only last no more than about 10 to 20 minutes, and you should feel pretty spent when you’re done.
Here are five reasons why HIIT should be a staple of your training:
HIIT is Super Time Efficient
The number one excuse that people give me for not working out consistently is that they just don’t have time to fit in a 45 to 60 minute workout in even just a few times a week.
I get it. Everyone these days is busy, whether you work long hours, you’re a parent, you have a busy social life, or all of the above.
But it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health and fitness goals as a result.
Because HIIT workouts really shouldn’t take more than 10 to 20 minutes to complete, you can fit them into your day, no matter how busy you are.
Everyone has an extra 12 minutes a day. Get it done, and get on with the rest of your day.
HIIT Requires Little to No Equipment
Another thing that makes HIIT so awesome is that you can get in a great workout using just a few, minimal pieces of equipment — or, nothing but your own bodyweight.
Exercises like push ups, bodyweight squats, burpees, mountain climbers, and countless others require absolutely zero equipment at all.
And if you want to add variety or an extra challenge to your workout, just a few things like a single medicine ball, kettlebell, doorway pull up bar, and a jump rope can easily be added to your home gym for very reasonable. Or, you can go to an outdoor fitness park or even a playground and take advantage of the bars and benches outside.
That means you can do a HIIT workout no matter where you are, whether you’re in your apartment, a tiny hotel room, an outdoor park (my favorite), or yes, in a gym.
HIIT is Effective for All Fitness Levels
These days, if you see me doing workouts on Instagram, you might initially think the workouts are way too challenging for you (or, if you’re more advanced, not challenging enough).
But another thing I adore about HIIT workouts is they really can be scaled to any fitness level — meaning you can always make an exercise either easier or more difficult so you continue to push yourself to get fitter and stronger throughout your fitness journey.
For example, an exercise like a basic push up can be made easier by placing your hands on a higher surface like a chair or a countertop. Or, it can be made more difficult by adding a band to increase resistance, or by adding a plyometric aspect to it (think clapping or even superman push ups).
And with conditioning exercises like sprints, high knees, squat jumps etc., you can once again start at your current level, and then try and challenge yourself to keep improving and getting even faster.
Being able to constantly progress in your workouts will keep you motivated to stick with them and make it much less likely you’ll get burnt out or give up.
HIIT Helps Avoid Overtraining
If you’re an athlete of any kind, you know that sometimes it can take a really long time to fit everything you’re working on into your actual workout.
Between skill and technique work, to building strength and endurance, to putting in the miles (or laps, courses, whatever you’re up to), athletic training of any type can take time.
And if you’re training for hours every day, day after day, you’re most likely putting yourself at risk for overtraining. Endurance athletes like runners and triathletes are especially at risk for overtraining, since they need to spend a lot of time working on their specific sport.
HIIT can be extremely helpful for athletes because it can not only help reduce overall time of training, making your workouts more efficient, it can also help reduce your risk of injury as an athlete.
Swapping out some longer training sessions for shorter, more intense HIIT ones can not only help you shorten your workouts, it will also help improve your overall strength and conditioning levels faster.
Whether you’re a boxer, runner, skier, mountain biker, weekend warrior, or something else entirely, replacing a few of your longer training sessions a week with HIIT workouts can be hugely beneficial.
It Really Does Boost Your Metabolism
If you’re looking to get leaner or lose weight, HIIT is undoubtedly your best option.
Studies show that HIIT workouts actually boost your metabolism for up to 24 to 48 hours after the workout.
Your metabolism will be running higher after an intense workout, meaning you’ll end up burning more calories overall despite the shorter workout time. And you’ll actually be burning more calories than you normally would for the next day or two, even at rest.
In contrast, medium intensity workouts boost your metabolism during your workout, but then it returns to its regular rate after your workout is finished.
Three Time Efficient HIIT Workouts to Try
Give one of these HIIT workouts a shot next time you want to get a killer workout in in a short amount of time:
Name: Faster Explosive HIIT Workout
Equipment needed: None
Name: Full Body Slammer HIIT Workout
Equipment needed: Medicine ball, pull up bar
Name: Plyos + Speed 12-Minute Challenge Workout