High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a fantastic way to get in shape, gain speed, and burn calories. Most HIIT exercises focus on short (10-60 seconds) bursts of maximum effort speed, followed by several minutes of active recovery.
Active recovery is simply fast walking or jogging.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
- Your cardiovascular system becomes stronger
- More oxygen-rich blood is being pumped through your body
- Your muscles are more efficiently using the oxygen-rich blood
- You are constantly changing your heart rate, which burns a lot of calories
- Your running stride becomes more efficient
- The connection between your muscles and nervous system improves
- Your reflexes become faster
However, with that being said there are a few cautionary measures to take. Prior to beginning any type of HIIT exercises, make sure you have a good, solid base of mileage and speed work. If you have a shaky stride and weak posture/core, HIIT can lead to injury. You should be able to run 3-4 days per week, for at least 30 minutes in duration. If you have never done speed work, follow the beginners training plan for a few weeks.
HIIT for beginners:
Start out by warming up (fast walking or jogging for 3-5 minutes). Depending on where you are (sidewalk, track, or treadmill) there will be some different options.
You can either sprint for distance (100 meters) or time (10-60 seconds). When sprinting, this needs to be at your maximum effort (8-10 on the RPE scale).
Follow with 2-3 minutes of easy jogging or fast walking.
Repeat 4-5 times. As you continue to do intervals, it will become easier to add more repetitions.
HIIT for the advanced:
Measure out 100 meters (I do this on the sidewalk in front of my house, or go to the high school track). Begin with a warm up (5 minutes easy jogging).
Sprint 100 meters, and focus on sprinting the last 60-80 meters with maximum effort. This should be a 9-10 on the RPE scale.
Jog for about 2-3 minutes between each set.
Repeat several times (try to aim for 6). Once you can successfully do 6 repeats, add another, and then another, and another (you get the picture).
Another way to change up the intensity is to sprint for longer (200 meters) distances. Keep the active recovery to 2-3 minutes.
For best results, aim to incorporate one to two HIIT exercises in each week. Make sure to spread them out during the week, with at least 5 days in between each session.