HIIT it!

I have absolutely no regrets about the half-marathons that I was able to do last year. The sense of accomplishment I felt after crossing those finish lines was incomparable and I eventually hope to do more half- or full-marathons.

However, right now, I am kind of “over” half-marathons. Instead, I am having so much fun pushing my speed with shorter distances and taking on new challenges with trail races. As a result, I have seriously shed minutes from my mile pace — mostly thanks to HIIT.

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is aimed to improve overall workout performance through shorter workout lengths. Typical HIIT sessions are 9-20 minutes long, but can burn as many calories as a workout multiples times that length. This is all accomplished by alternating fast or intense bursts with more moderate levels of exertion.

What are the benefits?

2006 study for the Journal of Physiology showed that 2.5 hours of HIIT training “produced similar biochemical muscle changes” as 10.5 hours of endurance work. In other words, spend 10 minutes doing a HIIT workout is comparable to 40 minutes of a steady-state workout.

In addition, HIIT workouts have larger post-workout calories burns: The resting metabolic rate for the 24-hours following a HIIT workout is improved, meaning that a person burns more calories just sitting around after a HIIT workout than an endurance workout.

What is an example workout?

HIIT workouts can be done on a track or the road, but I find it easiest to monitor my speed on a treadmill. Here’s my favorite workout…

3-Mile HIIT

(Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)

Notes:

  • I walked to and from the gym, so I didn’t add in a warm-up or cool-down. Add in three extra minutes of warm-up and three extra for cool-down, if necessary.
  • Adjust the speeds as need be. The idea is just to add in the “sprint” segments.
  • HIIT workouts aren’t just about running either! Elliptical machines or bikes are great for it, too.

Questions: Have you ever tried a HIIT workout? What do you do when you need to spice up your workout routine?

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