Everything you need to know to get started with interval training

Jun 19, 2015

I’m a fan of interval training. I always have been. I didn’t know it at the time, but back when I was a scrawny punk teenager, I utilized interval training everyday on the basketball court when I put myself through drill after drill after drill. (I also didn’t know it at the time, but drinking a gallon of sweet tea during the workout probably wasn’t the best choice for rehydration, either.)

HIIT is a form of interval training that alternates phases of maximum effort with phases of recover. It stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The key word here is intensity.

The main benefit of HIIT training, in my opinion, is that you can get a really good and effective workout in a short amount of time.

However, I constantly see people doing HIIT training wrong. Here are the guidelines:
* A true HIIT workout done correctly shouldn’t last longer than 20 minutes, and 5 minutes of that should be a proper warm up.
* During the high intensity phase, effort needs to be 100%. Maximum effort! Think of a full sprint.
* With maximum effort, you can’t go longer than 10-15 seconds. Think again of a sprint: you just can’t sprint at FULL speed for longer than that.
* Recovery phase is different depending on the individual. The goal with the recovery phase is to get your heart rate back to a point where it is still elevated but you are able to hold a conversation. You should feel ready to give maximum effort again after the recovery phase. 2 minutes is a good guideline to start with.
* Some exercises - correction, A LOT of exercises - don’t lend themselves to maximum effort. Planks. Jogging. Bicep Curls. These are NOT exercises you would use in a HIIT workout.
* Again, think sprinting. On a track, on an exercise bike, on a stair stepper, or even in a pool.

SAMPLE HIIT WORKOUT

Find a stretch of land that’s 50 - 100 meters long. Go over it and make sure there are no potholes, craters, or any other things that could trip you up.

Warm up with some light jogging, jumping jacks, high knees, and skipping.

Sprint that stretch for 10 seconds. Maximum effort! Reach your top speed - this is the maximum effort phase. Walk back to the starting point. This is the recovery phase.

Repeat for 10 minutes, alternating the sprints with the walks.

Ready to give it a try? Let me know how it goes!

–Steve


 

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