What Is High Intensity Interval Training?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or Sprint Interval Training, is an elevated form of traditional interval training. Individuals perform repeated sessions of high-intensity, short-lasting exercise routine intervals. These intervals are intermingled with less intensive recovery periods. Known as a cardiovascular exercise, each high-intensity interval training session can last from 10 to 20 minutes in duration.

Maximum Exertion Levels

In terms of perceived exertion, the high intensity of the exercise workout routine can be measured at an effort level of 7 out of 10. Participants using MHR (max heart rate) as their guide, perform high-intensity workouts that allow them to exercise above 80% of their MHR.

Effective Exercise Routines

HIIT exercise routines can involve indoor activities including elliptical runners, stair climbers, stationary bikes or treadmills. Outdoor activities can include cycling or running. High-intensity work rates involve challenging exertion exercises that include short time duration sprints that can last between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Exercise to Recovery Ratio

The traditional high-intensity interval training workout session generally calls for a warm-up session lasting 5 to 10 minutes. After a complete body warm-up, the appropriate workout routine is based on a recovery ratio that equals one minute of exercise for every three minutes of active recovery.

Advanced HIIT workouts keep participants active throughout the recovery, which allows muscle groups to remove any accumulated metabolic waste. The removal of the metabolic waste can produce a significant higher level of energy for the next high-intensity exercise. Participants begin with a lower number of exercise intervals and work up to an advanced level of 10 to 12 high-intensity workouts.

Enhancing Cardiovascular Endurance

HIIT was designed specifically for individuals that have primary concerns about boosting their cardiovascular endurance, fitness and fat loss, without reducing any accumulated muscle mass. Full recovery between intervals generally takes approximately four minutes for each individual, but can be reduced significantly if the time of each intensity workout interval is shortened in length.

Achieving the Best Results

HIIT is an extreme physically demanding workout routine. For the best results, beginners need to build up their training program gradually without ever overdoing it. The desired goal is to work up to an anaerobic zone, which has been proven to dramatically increase endurance and burn fat. This is achieved by performing high-intensity intervals until feeling a burning sensation in the muscles. Even extreme athletes only sustain a high-level maximum intensity exercise of four or five minutes before needing to slow down and recover.

Woman on a Treadmill