The secret to successful HIIT

The secret to successful HIIT and why you should be doing it too

Not all cardio is created equal.

The secret to successful HIIT

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is the new buzz word about town, despite it dating back to the 80s.

What is it?

It’s a time-saving, fat-busting workout, which alternates between intense bursts of activity and less-intense periods of recovery.

HIIT is considered to be more effective than LISS (low intensity steady state training, like distance running or cycling) because you are able to increase both the aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning fat (two weeks of HIIT training gives you the same improvement in aerobic capacity as 6-8 weeks of endurance/LISS training).

Our team works with actors who often have only a few weeks to get ready for a role or a stunt (or to get their body ready for the red carpet…) and we find HIIT is a ‘game changer’ in this regard. Quick and effective!

Why do HIIT?

1. It boosts your VO2 max (the measure of pace/power/endurance). A few weeks of HIIT will boost your VO2 max because it recruits 80% more muscle tissue than the 20-40% for LISS.

2. It burns more calories than continuous LISS, and sometimes for up to 24 hours afterwards.

3. It increases your metabolism. By boosting the production of cell proteins that we need for maintaining body function, HIIT can slow down ageing.

4. To help lose weight, but not muscle. LISS cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, where HIIT allows you to preserve the muscles while ensuring the weight loss comes from fat stores (up to 9 times the fat loss – gulp!)

5. To improve your muscles – you have two main groups of muscle fibres (slow, and fast twitch). Slow twitch is great for endurance, but you won’t notice a visible difference, whereas the larger fast twitch fibres are used for more powerful movements (and HIIT is an effective way of transforming fibres from slow to fast).

6. There’s no equipment necessary, and you can do it anywhere!

7. It doesn’t take long to do a HIIT workout, and there’s no need to overdo it (three times a week is as good as daily).

How long should my time intervals be?

Each physiotherapist may give you a different time interval which ‘worked for me’, but the PhysioEdge team have found 4-6 rounds of 30-second intervals with 2-4 minute recovery works best.

The most important point, however, is that you need the recovery time in order to do the next burst at maximum intensity. If you aren’t doing the bursts at your maximum intensity, you aren’t gaining the benefits in full. You need to have recovered to around 70% of your max heart rate before you continue the next burst.

Email to find out the HIIT formula that we use with our celebrity patients to get them stunt or ‘red carpet’ ready.

This article originally featured on the Get The Edge blog. 

The author is the founder of the ‘magic’ PhysioEdge magnesium massage gel, designed for muscle performance and recovery (