High intensity interval training is a popular and well-known method of training (remember that Joe Wicks guy?)


However, due to its popularity the term has come pretty diluted and most trainers (or insta professionals), flog their workouts as “HIIT workouts”

So, What Is It Exactly?

HIIT is a form of interval training.


Interval training is a mode of training that involves selective work and rest periods, originally designed to train different energy systems.


Essentially, interval training is a manipulation of the time variables in training


HIIT involves working at short periods of high intensity followed by longer in comparison rest periods.


Sounds obvious, but the reason that the work periods are short in HIIT (>30s), is due to the fact that you simply can’t (or shouldn’t be able to) sustain that high work rate for an extended period of time.


That is the point of HIIT.


If you’re following a “HIIT” workout that doesn’t have you heart rate soaring for the work period, then it’s probably not HIIT.


When online training my clients, I make sure that the work required for the HIIT component of a workout is communicated clearly.

Using HIIT

Unless you’re training for performance, you’re probably not using HIIT to train specific energy systems.


You’re most likely using HIIT as it’s been labelled as a quick and effective way to get fit, and burn fat whilst maintaining muscle mass


Which is fine


As part of a supportive diet, HIIT can definitely help you achieve those things, if you use it correctly.


I prefer to add in short 10-minute bouts of HIIT, at the end of workouts with clients. If you want me to design you an effective programme, you can contact me here

EPOC Busted?

Let’s quickly touch on EPOC


EPOC = Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption


EPOC has been touted as big theory to why HIIT is so effective and is constantly given as the underlying reason to its widespread use


EPOC is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (homeostasis).


Essentially when you work out, you achieve an “oxygen debt” which results in the continuing burning of calories after your workout is finished, to repay that debt.


The theory with HIIT is that EPOC is higher due to the intense nature of the workouts, therefore you continue to burn more calories afterwards.


However, research seems to indicate that EPOC levels can vary greatly between individuals (1) and are pretty much the same with HIIT and steady state cardio (2,3,4)

The True Power of HIIT

The power of HIIT lies in the fact that is extremely time efficient, especially in an age where no-one seems to have any time


However, if you’re 20-minute HIIT workout isn’t actually a HIIT workout, then it’s just a short workout.


All HIIT is a TYPE of interval training


Not all interval training is HIIT


If you (like most other people), are using HIIT as it’s time efficient and you’d rather do a 20-minute HIIT workout than a long run; then make sure that those 20 minutes are effective.


Basic HIIT Examples

If you want a great HIIT workout, I’d suggest using the Air Assault bike. You can check out my Air Assault protocol here


15s sprints – 45s rest x 10 sets


20s row – 40s rest x 10 sets


30s KB Swings – 60s rest x 10 sets


It's Probably Not HIIT Checklist

Are you Smiling the whole time?


Yes – It’s probably not HIIT


Are your movements slow?


Yes – It’s probably not HIIT


Is your heart rate below 80% (minimum) of your max?


Yes – it’s probably not HIIT

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