You’ve probably seen the acronym, maybe on a sign up sheet for a gym class, but what does it even mean? HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. The simplified definition is workout intervals where you work at a high intensity, separated by moments of rest. Those classes at the gym utilise a specific style of HIIT but there are a huge number of ways you can incorporate this basic principle to optimise your cardio at home.
What is HIIT?
High intensity interval training might still sound like gibberish. In reality, you’ve probably already engaged in a HIIT workout at some point in your life without even knowing. The concept of HIIT works on the principle that working at a steady pace for a long period of time is not nearly as efficient as going hard over smaller intervals with recovery periods between. Let’s take running as an example. You could run on a treadmill at a pace of 9km/h for half an hour. You get your heart pumping and burn some calories, but it’s not terribly efficient and let’s face it, it’s a little boring. Sprinting, at a pace of say 13km/h, is a more efficient way to increase your heart rate and burn calories but obviously not sustainable for the same length of time. On a treadmill the HIIT workout looks something like this (and some treadmills have preset programs for HIIT): run at a near sprint for a minute the back down to a jogging pace for 2 minutes of recovery before going straight back into the sprint.
Benefits of HIIT Cardio
HIIT is more efficient than taking it slow when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. So does HIIT cardio burn belly fat? Whether it be going for a run or incorporating HIIT into your regular workout, those intervals working at higher intensities burn more calories than working at an even pace. Even just limiting the time you take between your sets keeps you working toward your goals. Being more active during your sets gets your heart pumping faster and then taking less time between sets to become sedentary keeps it beating at an efficient pace that maximises calorie burning potential.
How To Do HIIT Cardio At Home
HIIT works great with bodyweight exercises and workouts that use minimal weights. Heavy weight workouts can become dangerous working at higher intensities. If you have a bodyweight routine and want to up the ante, consider combining some of your exercises into one set to make it more intense. Follow your 20 pushups immediately with a set of burpees and a set of pull-ups then finish off the interval by skipping for a minute and taking a strict one minute rest before going again. It’s a lot like circuit training but the most important factor is taking the same intensity with you into every exercise and as you transition between each.
What do I need to do HIIT at Home?
The way you incorporate HIIT into your home workout could vary significantly. The treadmill is an easy way to get a cardio HIIT, but that doesn’t discount the value of an elliptical or an exercise bike in delivering the same preset training program. If you’d like to start a HIIT bodyweight program at home then there are some essentials that will help you through this journey. A quality exercise mat will help you stay comfortable working out on the hard ground, great for things like pushups and crunches. Exercise gloves can give you a big boost to your grip and protect your hands as you do pushups and burpees. Additional wrist and ankle weights can do a lot to increase resistance and intensity, and a set of resistance bands can help you achieve a stronger resistance when your bodyweight is no longer enough. A skipping rope can do a lot to keep your intensity high at the start or end of a set.
HIIT is more than just a class at the gym. It’s a style of working out or an attitude that you bring into every workout to keep the intensity high, your heart rate up, and your recovery consistent. The most obvious benefit is the increased efficiency of burning calories but you will also see overall improvements to your endurance and cardiovascular health.