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The Ultimate HIIT Workout – Burn Calories Fast

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and it is one of the most popular forms of training around. Perhaps popular is a bit strong, many people perform HIIT workouts, we’re not sure how many actually enjoy it though! That’s because HIIT is incredibly difficult, yet the results can be spectacular. This article will teach you how to create your own incredible HIIT workout, allowing you to burn calories and improve your fitness in double-quick time.

What is HIIT?

While classes that are described as HIIT have never been popular, very few of them would actually qualify as a true HIIT session. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, with the high intensity part being crucial.

Traditional HIIT sessions are short in duration (20-30 minutes max) as the longer they continue, the harder it is to maintain the intensity required. Sessions are also interval based, meaning that you exercise at near-maximum intensity for 10-20 seconds, and then rest for 10-20 seconds (these times can differ depending on what form of HIIT you are following).

Many so-called HIIT classes often last an hour and are designed to suit a variety of different fitness levels. This means that a new gym goer will be expected to perform the same workout as someone who may have been exercising for 20 years.

This is not an attack on classes by the way, but it is important to differentiate true HIIT from HIIT-style workouts.

Traditional HIIT requires a high level of fitness and mobility to perform. You need coordination, strength, and the ability to train at maximum intensity. This is important, because if you are not fit enough to perform your movements at maximum intensity, then the benefits associated with HIIT will not be forthcoming.

Does that mean that a new gym goer wouldn’t get good results from a HIIT class? No, it just means that there may be better options out there to start off with. HIIT has its place in everyone’s training journey, but it is not at the start.

What are the Benefits of HIIT?

Sessions are short and sharp, meaning that they can save you time. You can burn as many calories during a session (and afterwards) as you would during a longer duration low intensity run. There also appear to be fat-loss benefits, with HIIT sessions being shown to burn more calories than regular exercise.

There may be cognitive benefits too, with HIIT sessions being shown to “elicit short term brain improvements” according to one study. Though it should be noted that any form of aerobic exercise would also provide these cognitive benefits.

How to Create Your Own HIIT Workout

The first thing you will want to do is to decide what form of HIIT you want to follow. There are a number of different protocols:

  • Tabata – The most famous HIIT routine. Exercise at max intensity for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this continuously for 8 cycles (4 minutes). Repeat this four times per week.
  • Vollaard – This method was made famous by the BBC when Michael Mosely used it in 2012. It’s ten minutes of continuous cycling, with 2 (or 3) 20 second all-out sprints. This is probably the most suitable HIIT method for beginners.
  • Peter Coe – This is an incredibly simple (yet difficult) form of HIIT, developed by Seb Coe’s dad. The idea is to run 200m as fast as possible. Rest for 30 seconds, and then repeat it. Not great for beginners, as sprinting is quite challenging. Could be adapted to the Cross-Trainer or exercise bike though.
  • Gym HIIT – This is not a scientific protocol like the other three. But it is very popular. The idea is to pick an exercise (burpees, squats, mountain climbers, etc) and use them rather than running or biking for HIIT. Usually, it is 20-30 seconds of max intensity followed by 10-20 seconds of rest.

Which HIIT Protocol Should I Follow?

If you are a complete beginner, then the Vollaard protocol would be your best bet. It will still be very difficult to do, but it is a little less strenuous than the others. Start by just cycling for ten minutes straight. When you are fit enough to manage that you can add in one, two, or eventually three 20-second max intensity intervals. It may sound easy, but it really isn’t. It’s a superb workout.

If you are a runner, then the Peter Coe protocol is a good shout. It works really well (Seb Coe can attest to this) but doesn’t suit non-runners as running at high speeds is very technical and could lead to injury if performed incorrectly. Runners should have no issues here.

Tabata and Gym HIIT are best for well trained gym goers. Remember though, you should not be combining HIIT with other exercises. If you are finishing your HIIT protocol and fancy a set of deadlifts, then you aren’t exercising hard enough in the HIIT section.

Final Thoughts

Most articles about the Ultimate HIIT workout will offer a huge variety of creative and exciting exercises and variations to follow. In comparison, this article may seem rather dull. However, the reason people want to do HIIT is to:

  • Burn fat
  • Improve fitness
  • Save time

In which case, the protocols mentioned above will do this better than any fancy made-up workout. Sometimes being boring gets better results!

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