Just before the new year, the ACSM published its annual list of fitness trend predictions. The list itself was rather predictable, citing yoga, exercise for weight loss, and group training amongst some of the “rising” trends in 2015. But the one item that really stuck out as having some weight was HIIT training.
High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT as it is more commonly referred to, should be the second most popular fitness trend of the year. It was a big deal a few years back, and apparently it’s going to see a resurgence.
What is it exactly? The ACSM describes HIIT as “short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.”
That’s what makes HIIT so desirable — that 30 minute timeframe. It’s hard to include time in a list of workout excuses when it only requires 30 minutes. HIIT requires less time, but demands more of you during that time. You blast through circuits with little to no rest between moves or machines. It’s also a total body workout; because you never stop moving, and you’re doing strength training and not solely focused on strength or cardio exercises, you get the best of both worlds in one quick, tidy (very sweaty) session.
Making time for an hour or longer at the gym, and managing a schedule of cardio versus strength sessions, can be cumbersome at best. With HIIT workouts, you get it all squared away at once. Whose jam-packed, always-busy schedule couldn’t use that? HIIT really is the schedule relief we’ve all needed at the gym.
Or not at the gym, for that matter. Another great benefit of HIIT workouts is that it doesn’t require that you be in any one place. At home, the park, the gym, a hotel room… it honestly doesn’t matter. As long as you can dedicate that half hour to just getting the job done, then HIIT goes anywhere you do. That means you don’t have to just sit at your kid’s soccer practice or sack out on the couch during a Gilmore Girls marathon… you can use that time and that space to complete a legitimate, meaningful workout.
A lot of resources exist for getting your HIIT on! Everything from gym classes to books, DVDs, and more are available. These are often free or cheap (eliminating the cost excuse!).
Jessica Smith’s 2012 book Thin In 10 is one example. The resourceful book, co-authored by Liz Neporent, is hinged on HIIT principles and introduces those throughout its approachable fitness instruction. One of Jessica’s HIIT workouts includes a five-minute warm-up, something as simple as marching in place. You’ll do a series of exercises, and in each set you go all in with maximum effort for about 20-30 minutes, with active rest between moves. Lateral burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knee marches, and squats are some of the moves you’ll do over two or three sets.
No equipment, no trainer, no certain place to be, and no brainer… HIIT workouts just make sense. Women’s Health Magazine likens HIIT training to a nice BOGO deal, combining cardio and strength training in to one fast-blast workout.