Whoever said “slow and steady wins the race” didn’t have a full-time job, a slowing metabolism, and an endless to-do list. When it comes to staying in shape on a tight schedule, there’s probably no better solution thaninterval training.
Research suggests that by alternating bursts of high-intensity work with complete rest (or low-intensity movement), interval training can supercharge fat-burning, boost metabolism, and improve cardiovascular fitness.
Below, we’ve rounded up more ways you can get the most out of HIIT.
Make the Most Out of Your HIIT Workout
- Start slow. Go all out for 20 seconds, and then recover for 40 or even 60 seconds. You may feel like that’s not hard enough, but building slowly decreases your risk of injury and prevents you from burning out.
- Don’t skip your warm-up. Because you’ll be racing through moves, it’s important your body is primed for action. Warm up all of your major joints (neck, shoulders, wrists, hips, legs, and ankles) with circular movements. Then move on to jumping jacks or a light jog in place or on a treadmill.
- Aim for reps. If you’re looking to improve (and who isn’t?), keep track of your reps during a given interval and try to beat it next time. For instance, if you’re doing Tabata, aim for 20 bodyweight squats in 20 seconds.
- Use an interval timer. If you’re working as hard as you should be, it’s going to be tough to keep it together while glancing at a watch, a wall clock, or your iPhone. Instead, use an interval timing program, like Deltaworks Interval Timer app. You’ll set it once, press start, and get to work.
- Don’t train on back-to-back days. At most, try HIIT two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days. On non-interval days, do some steady-state cardio, or try another type training like yoga or Pilates.
- Just add weight. If you need to make your workout harder, try adding weight to any bodyweight movement, or add more weight during the first round of a circuit, Avery says.
- Keep the intervals short. Three to five minutes is not an interval. Twenty to 60 seconds is. Remember: The intervals are short so you can push yourself to the max.
- Use the “talk test.” Not sure if you’re pushing yourself? During the intervals, you should be unable to speak in full sentences.
- Work out with a partner. Alternate your work and rest intervals with a partner. So you’ll rest while your partner works, and vice versa. While “resting,” your job is to cheer on your partner and keep him working extra hard.