How To Start Interval Training The Right Way

By David

January 6, 2014   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

If you are looking to get better aerobic results in less time for your trainee, then high intensity interval training (HIIT) is the thing for you. With this scientifically proven method, you will melt fat fast, boost fitness level, and get into the best shape of their life without it taking up much time.

HIIT defined

High intensity interval training involves performing quick intervals of high-energy exercise challenging bursts of activity intermingled with  fixed periods of low intensity boots or complete rest.

With HIIT, you will be pushing your trainee to the limit, whether it’s running, cycling or whatever, for brief stretches of times, followed by boots of recovery.

An old practice

HIIT is not a new idea. It was first developed decades ago by track coaches to train runners. At the time, it was known as “Fartlek”, which is a Swedish word for speed (fart) and play (lek).

But now, it has crossed over to the fitness industry and has been adapted for adults of most ability levels. You can use high intensity interval training as you see fit, running, swimming, bodyweight training, even
walking if you alternate a slow walk and a speed walk.
Yes, it sounds too simple to be effective, but countless studies have proven the benefits of this powerful method of training.

What is it good for?

Studies comparing HIIT to other forms of training, mainly continuous steady state exercise, have shown that HIIT is far more effective at burning body fat, boosting performance, and a host of other health benefits, regardless of requiring less time to complete and no equipment at all (unless you want to).

In addition, high intensity interval training is the exact thing you need when you are working with clients. This method is fun and easy to implement can help you clients get real results, fast.

A blubber-burning beast

High intensity interval training is the most efficient program to date for burning away stubborn body in a short period of time, to the extent that there is literally no reason to opt for long moderate-intensity cardio sessions unless you’re an endurance athlete or desire the physique of a marathoner.

In fact, numerous studies have proved its awesome fat-burning powers. Subject following a 20-minute HIIT program, involving  8-second sprints, followed by 12 seconds of rest, shed six times more body fat than the group who opted for a steady 40-minute cardio program, according to an Australian study. And that’s not all.

Enter the EPOC

The calorie-burning craze triggered by HIIT does not end when the workout is over, but it will last throughout the rest of the day through what’s known as the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

In fact, you could burn off as much as a 100-extra calorie over the 24 hours following an HIIT workout, according to a 2001 study at East Tennessee State University. In other words, you burn off more calories while you’re doing nothing thanks to high intensity interval training.

Not only that, the metabolism boost can also play a crucial role in improving the mechanisms by which muscle cells impede fat storage and promote fat burning.

Muscle building

HIIT training is hands down the most effective way to lose fat without causing the body to catabolize muscle tissue.

Studies have shown that long endurance activities, such a marathon running, can lead to muscle catabolism, which is the breakdown and loss of muscle tissue, lasting even days after the workout is over.

This will not take place during a HIIT training routine. In fact, when coupled with the beta-alanine supplements, intense intervals has been shown to create an anabolic effect, which helps you put on the muscle—even in the absence of weightlifting while following a six-week HIIT program— according to a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Outdo the competition

HIIT training simulates real-life sports – start-and-stop motions with intervals of high burst efforts, followed by light jogging or rest. Therefore, if you play sports, even for recreation, HIIT training will help you get good at the game.

This type of training will boost your VO2 max, leading to an increase in the amount of oxygen your body can use in during exercise, thus helping your overall aerobic capacity to reach whole new levels.

In addition, your lactate threshold will also get a boost thanks to HIIT training, thus you’ll be able to push further and harder with less fatigue.

The results: you’ll be in better shape and be able to out-compete and out-do the guys on the playing court, whether it’s Tennis, Baseball, Basketball, or any other sports of your choosing.

Short & convenient

HIIT is ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want to get in shape for a fast-approaching event or to fit in a workout during a hectic and busy day. A study at McMaster University in Hamilton concluded that HIIT workouts can provide the same cardiovascular and muscular benefits to prolonged endurance training, despite requiring much less time to do.

HIIT training is also very convenient and you can almost do it anywhere with any piece of equipment—or without any equipment at all. The HIIT variations are virtually limitless.  You can use it with weights, jump rope, strength bands, with your body weight. You just have to show up and take the first step.

Starting your HIIT

Starting high intensity interval training can be tricky—especially if you don’t know how to proceed. But fret no more. I’m providing you with all the necessary tools to make out of you an interval-training aficionado in no-time. You just need to follow the instructions right most of the time. And most importantly, stay within your fitness skill.

The recipe for HITT success

As with any other thing in life, to succeed , you need a clear recipe to follow. The rules you need to abide by to get the results you are after. The good news is that interval-training rules are simple and easy to follow. However, jumping into this training method while breaking the rules can spell disaster on your optimum health plans. In fact, expect injuries and/or painful burnouts if you think that you are above the rules. Interval training is a merciless form of training. A beast. And if you disrespect it , be ready to suffer the dire consequences.

Without further ado, here is the step-by-step pattern of success.

1.    Warm-up right
2.    Perform your first interval at moderate effort for 30 to 90 seconds. The length, of course, depends on the workout and your fitness needs and goals.
3.    Take your first recovery boot and get mentally ready for the next rounds.
4.    Repeat the process six to eight times.
5.    Finish the workout with a decent cool-down.

And here you have it. If you abide by this simple pattern, then success is bound to follow.

Warming up

The proper warm-up is the backbone of any exercise you do, whether it’s running, weight lifting, or even Yoga. In fact, if you skip the warm-up, you’re flirting with disaster as the risks of injury and burnouts are high when your body is pushed to full throttle without the proper prep. This is especially true when it comes to interval training in which intensity is the name of the game.

To warm up right for your interval training sessions, jog slowly for 5 minutes to raise your heart rate and body temperature. After that, depending on the workout on schedule, perform dynamic body movements such push-ups, squats and other bodyweight exercise to get the blood flowing and your body firing on all cylinders.  After that, make a clear picture in your mind of what you are going to do, and go for it.

HIIT Workouts Variations

Maybe the best thing about interval training is that you can accustom this training method to fit with any training goal you have. Nevertheless, if you are looking for ideas to get you started on the right path without much second-guessing, then here are the workout variations you need for total success.

The 100M sprints

The100m sprints are the perfect beginners’ gateway into interval training. Nevertheless, you need to be warned, sprints are not for the faint-hearted; they will push your body and mind to the ultimate limit, but they are worth it. Sprinting builds speed and killer lower body strength, it sheds mad calories, and it’s convenient and does take that much time to complete.

Start your sprint session with the proper warm-up, then go for your first sprint at a challenging pace. Take at least a full minute to recover, then go at full burst on your next sprint. Repeat the process eight to ten times and finish it up with a decent cool-down. Make sure to stretch your lower body as well.

Treadmill Intervals

If sprinting on the track is not option, then a treadmill comes in handy. This piece of machinery can help you stay in top-shape all year around, and it treadmill workouts don’t have to be complicated in order to be effective. Just the simplest sprinting workout can have phenomenal results.

On a treadmill, after a decent warm-up, do eight to 10 intervals, sprinting for 30 seconds and recovering for one full minute. You can make the workout more challenging by either increasing the time you spent sprinting, or upping the gradient to simulate hill running. That depends on your fitness skill and training goals. Finish the workout with a 5-minute cool-down jog at 60 percent of your 5K pace.

The Tabata protocol

Another effective form of high intensity interval training is the Tabata protocol. Developed by Dr Izumi Tabata in the 90’s, this method has been proved to induce phenomenal results, whether when it comes to fat lass or boosting fitness.

The Tabata protocol involves doing 20 seconds of full burst work followed by 10 seconds of rest for each of the prescribed exercises. After going through the whole circuit, rest for one to two minutes and repeat the entire circuit. Shoot for three rounds of the circuit.

You can design your own Tabata protocol routines, but here is one to try out:

After a 10-minute warm-up of jogging and bodyweight movements, go for your first 400m sprint at a moderate pace, then do as many military push-ups as possible in 20 seconds. After that, go for your second sprint at a challenging pace, then perform as many burpees as you can.

Go for your last sprint for this round at your maximum pace, do as many jumping squats as you can. Repeat the routine three times and record your reps and timing. Cool down with plenty of deep breathing and deep stretches to release any tension and acidic build-ups.

CrossFit inspired WOD

This workout is only for the elite and will push your mind and body to the breaking point without any doubt. It’s high interval intensity training to the limit. That is why CrossFit training workouts have become so popular; they are intense and deliver quick results.

For 45-seconds per exercise with 15-second break between each exercise, do the following.

•    Burpees
•    Jumping Jacks
•    Deadlift at bodyweight
•    Lunge jumps
•    Medicine ball slams
•    Back squat at bodyweight
•    Mountain Climbers

After finishing the set, rest for two minute and repeat the cycle three times to five times. Be warned, this is intense.

Written on 1/6/2014 by David Dack. David Dack is fitness author and enthusiast. He is a regular contributor to some of the major fitness magazines and online publications. For more tips and training guidelines go to his blog RunnerBlueprint. Quick download: You can get David’s EBook ‘Running for Weight Loss’ for Free, just click HERE. You can also follow David on Twitter: @DavidDack

Photo Credit: Sangudo


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