What is a HIIT Workout & Are They For You?

How to make the most out of your HIIT Workouts – Let it burn!

People love HIIT workouts because in a short amount of time, you can burn fat, build lean body mass, and increase your cardio capacity and endurance. In fact, a recent study found that those doing HIIT workouts lost 30% more fat than those doing moderate intensity workouts. But…it’s important to do them properly. 

Cat Kom, founder and trainer at Studio SWEAT onDemand, loves HIIT training, so she’s here to share some info and tips for success.

What is a HIIT workout?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. A typical HIIT workout alternates between high intensity moves for a couple of minutes, and then a lower intensity active recovery period. In the high intensity drills, your heart rate should spike to 80-90% of your max, and then drop down to 60-70% during recovery. For example, you may do squat jumps for 60 seconds, and then recover on your back doing bicycles.

You can find HIIT workouts of all kinds like cycling, bodyweight blasts, running, and weight lifting. Check out our HIIT Playlist on Studio SWEAT onDemand!

7 Tips to Maximize your HIIT Workout:
    1. Start small. You don’t need to go big right away. If HIIT training is new to you, start with 10-20 minute workouts. Work up your duration. Similarly, gradually increase your intensity. For example, instead of squat jumps, do a power squat instead.
    2. Dynamic warmups. Prepare your muscles and your heart because you’re about to go all-out in your workout. A warmup may or may not be included in your class, so if you’re doing one online that doesn’t have a warmup, hit pause and do one on your own.
    3. Hydrate. Water is a source of energy for exercise and will power you through your workout. You don’t want to cramp, have a dry mouth, or overheat, so be sure to hydrate before and during your workout.
    4. To eat or not to eat? This one you’ve got to answer for yourself. Some can and some can’t eat before intense exercise. If Cat eats, it needs to be at least two hours before a workout, but her husband could crush a burrito just before a class (not sayin’ you should do that).
      If you do eat, oats are a great source of fuel, or any other fast-acting carbs like rice cakes or an english muffin. This will help properly store glycogen in your muscles so you’re fueled up and ready to go.
    5. Recovery matters. Outside your workout and during your workout, it’s critical to give your body recovery time. In fact, during a HIIT workout, the active recovery is just as important as the intense bouts. So take that moment to decrease your heart rate.
      Outside the HIIT workout, incorporate LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) workouts, as well as strength and mobility, so when you are doing HIIT classes, your body is ready to go.By the way, if you don’t incorporate alternatives, your body may plateau or even take a step backwards (Speaking of, did you know walking backwards is really good for mobility? Give it a try.)
      Sleep is also an important component of recovery, so be sure you’re getting plenty of ZZZs.
    6. Make it yours. If a high impact move like a tuck jump isn’t in your wheelhouse, that’s ok. You can still make it an explosive move like a squat with a powerful knee raise. Modifications are important, so use them when you need ‘em. Listen to your body.
    7. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Well, that’s the whole goal of HIIT training, yeah? Push hard out of your comfort zone to get to the next level.

How often you do HIIT workouts depends on a few things: 

  • What else is in your fitness routine? 
  • What does your typical week look like?
  • What’s your fitness level?

You want to be sure you’re getting in a variety of fitness modalities like strength and mobility training, so generally if you’re at an intermediate to advanced fitness level, you can do HIIT about 4 times per week. If you’re a beginner or novice, 2 times a week is a great way to start. You’ll have a gradual ramp-up while keeping momentum, so that each HIIT workout doesn’t seem like the first time. 

HIIT workouts can also be great if you’re doing specificity training like for a marathon (or 5k) where you could try running HIIT classes, or try HIIT cycling classes when preparing for a century ride. 

Whatever HIIT you do next, remember to HIIT it hard. And for a wide variety of HIIT training options, check out a Free Trial over on Studio SWEAT onDemand! Download the app, or if you happen to live in southern California, visit us in our San Diego studio.