Why should you try HIIT? Maybe we want to start with what is HIIT? High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been around for a few years and proved to be extremely popular for many reasons. HIIT workouts are preferred by people who can't justify spending hours in the gym but would like to reap the benefits of frequently exercising nevertheless.
HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of very high-intensity exercises – these bring the heart rate up to 90% of your max heart rate – followed by slightly longer 'rest' periods when your heart rate is brought down to 60-70%.
Talking about heart rate: the best way to keep track of your heart rate during HIIT workouts is to wear a heart rate monitor or a running watch. However, we recommend the former as wrist-based optical heart rate monitors are notoriously unreliable when not used for steady-state exercises such as running or cycling.
Although almost any type of workout can be turned into a HIIT workout, if you need inspiration, look at the best HIIT workout gear guide for some equipment recommendations and make sure you wear the best workout shoes for added traction during workouts.
- What's metcon and is it good for getting fit at home?
5 reasons why should you try HIIT workouts
HIIT workouts are fast, but it doesn't mean you should skip warm-up. Although you don't want to max out your heart rate warming up, you also don't want to go into a high-intensity training cold turkey either. Do some lunges or a couple of minutes of jump ropes to get your heart – and muscles – ready for the workout.
After the workout, you'll need to do two things: have some protein and stretch your muscles. The most convenient way to sort out the former is to have a protein shake, a mix of protein powder and water or milk/milk substitute. You can also opt in to have a protein bar instead.
5 reasons why you should try HIIT today
1. HIIT torches fat for longer
If you want to burn fat quicker and haven't got the time to go for runs or spend ages on cross trainers (opens in new tab), HIIT is the answer. This type of workout has proven to burn fat efficiently, even visceral fat, the one that surrounds organs and therefore can have a very serious negative effects on your long term health.
Even better, doing HIIT exercises will burn fat even after you finished exercising. Some research has shown that your body will stay in fat-burning mode for up to 24 hours after the workout.
2. HIIT will boost your metabolism
An improved rate of metabolism can help you in a lot of ways. Not only it is less likely for you to gain weight if your metabolism is working correctly, but a healthy metabolic system can rid toxins from your body more efficiently and also, as mentioned above, burn calories even after you finished with your HIIT session.
In some studies, HIIT has been shown to force your body to use energy from fat as opposed to carbs, helping losing fat even more efficiently. Basically, doing a HIIT workout kick starts your body's metabolism to a level that the fat burning effects last hours after the session have finished.
In essence, you can torch fat for hours with just a few minutes of exercising a day, using HIIT.
3. HIIT is time efficient
HIIT workouts are quick. Some, like the Tabata regimen, only last for 4-5 minutes at a time. Even the longer sessions tend to last no longer than half an hour, which makes HIIT the perfect workout for busy people.
For the same reason, HIIT workouts work well with other types of workouts. In some cases, people who did HIIT workouts gained muscle mass, mainly on their legs. Combining resistance training with HIIT sessions can build muscle mass and burn fat quicker than just doing either.
4. HIIT can improve cardiovascular heart health and oxygen consumption
In case the above benefits were not enough to convince you, here is another no-brainer: HIIT can significantly improve your muscles' oxygen consumption in a matter of weeks. Most usually, you would have to do long sessions of cycling or running at moderate intensity to improve VO2 max levels over time, but with HIIT, you only have to do 20 sessions, four-five times a week to significantly increase muscle oxygen consumption in five to six weeks.
Also, especially obese and overweight people, doing HIIT workouts regularly can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, too. It has also been shown that a HIIT workout routine can reduce blood sugar levels as well.
Important: If you have issues with obesity, please consult a medical professional before you start your new HIIT regime. What works for most might not work for you personally and it's always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to health-related issues.
5. You can do HIIT anywhere, anytime
Probably the best thing about HIIT is that it doesn't require much – or any – equipment at all. Also, it can be adopted to many different disciplines: if you have a treadmill (opens in new tab) or an indoor exercise bike (opens in new tab) already, you can have a HIIT session in either of those.
But in general, doing burpees, jumping jacks or mountain climbers don't require any equipment. You can do them in your living room, in a hotel room or on the street at anytime.
Best HIIT workout gear
You might not need a lot of fitness equipment to start doing HIIT, but getting the right clothing, shoes and wearables, can significantly improve your comfort levels during your workouts.
HIIT workouts involve a lot of jumping around in most cases, so close fitting clothing is advised, like leggings and tights, as well as sports vests and sports bras.
Under Armour TriBase Reign 2 workout shoes
It's all about that base, baby, with the Under Armour TriBase Reign 2 training shoes. UA took all the feedback it's received about the first iteration of this shoe seriously and created a workout shoe that has more traction, more durability and even more comfort than its predecessor.
The triangular base – hence the name, TriBase – has a larger external heel counter for added support at the rear of the shoes. The sawtooth pattern of the outsole provides all the traction you need so when you are lift heavy weights or jump around on hard floors doing a full-body HIIT workout (opens in new tab), you won't have to worry about slippery feet (make sure the surface is dry first, though).
The stability doesn't stop there: the low-ground construction of the TriBase Reign 2 puts you and your toes in control of the movement and stability of your body. You won't find a high stack here, like in modern running shoes, but for the same reason, the TriBase Reign 2 is not the best choice for treadmill sessions, the sole being flat and less cushioned.
This doesn't mean this workout shoe is not responsive, though: the full-length Micro G foam midsole does have a slight bounce and will take the weight off your feet when you jump around.
Mirafit Battle Jump Rope
• Buy the Mirafit Battle Jump Rope directly from Mirafit, prices from £15.95 (opens in new tab)
Skipping is a majorly underrated type of exercising, despite it being used by boxers to improve endurance and cardio performance. The Mirafit Battle Jump Rope combines the best aspects of jump ropes and battle ropes and provides a full body workout without having to fix one end of the rope to an anchor point.
This makes the Battle Jump Rope highly portable and practical: you can use it at home, in the park or in the gym gym. That said, given the weight of the ropes, it can be rather noisy when doing skips using this rope, something a downstairs neighbour might not appreciate all that much.
The black polyester weave the rope is made of is super durable while the rubber coated handles provide comfortable grip and prevent fraying. The Mirafit Battle Jump Rope can be bought in a variety of sizes and even the most expensive option is comparatively cheap.
Skullcandy Indy Fuel truly headphones
Is the Skullcandy Indy Fuel any good for workouts? Let's see: it has a great battery and will last for up to 30 hours in-between charges, using the included charger case. These capable sport earbuds are also IP55 sweat-, water- and dust-resistant and feature built-in Tile technology, which makes tracking down either of the earbuds easy if you ever misplace them.
The Indy Fuel also features touch controls, although i does take a bit of practice to get used to them. And finally, thanks to the three different EQ modes, you can even tailor the sound profile on the Indy Fuel or let more external sounds in using the Ambient mode, perfect for cycling, running and – you guessed it – HIIT workouts.
Polar OH1 heart rate monitor armband
One thing that often doesn't come up in the conversation is just how unpleasant it is to put on a cold chest strap during the winter months. When you are cold as it is, wrapping a cold and wet strap around your torso is not a sensation many will yearn after.
The Polar OH1 armband is an ideal compromise between precision and comfort: the optical heart rate sensor will provide accurate readings than a running watch. Why, you ask? Although the Polar OH1 and a running watch may both use the same type of sensors, but since the armband sits better on your skin, it will be able to pick up signal more easily and accurately. Your wrist twists and turns all the time and it is not hard for a watch to lose connection to your skin there.