HIIT – that magical form of exercise, bundled up into a convenient 15-30 minute package, that uses little to no equipment and continues to burn calories for several hours afterward, as well as providing many other health benefits. Is it any wonder that HIIT workouts are becoming increasingly more popular as many of us find ourselves working from home?
So, what is this sorcery I talk of? Well, awareness of the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has been around since the 1970s. Peter Coe created training sessions for his son Sebastian Coe (winner of four Olympic medals), where he would repeatedly run 200 metre sprints followed by only 30 seconds of recovery between each one.
And that is essentially how it works. Short, hard bursts of repeated and concentrated exercise coupled with short rest periods put our bodies into an oxygen-deprived state. This in turn raises our resting metabolic rate, the body has to work hard to replace the oxygen and allows us to burn those pesky calories for up to 24 hours after exercise. You see? Magic.
The additional benefits of HIIT (if high-calorie burn is not motivation enough for you) make it the perfect exercise for those of us working remotely nowadays. Due to circumstance and the current global situation, many of us find ourselves becoming increasingly sedentary and generally unhealthy. All our situations are different obviously, but in my home/work situation there is not a great distance between my bedroom, office (read dining table), and kitchen, making it very hard for me to accomplish my 10000 steps each day. Can you relate?
Space, or lack of it is an issue. We don’t have to be like Seb though and fit in 200 metre sprints down the hallway. Think burpees, squats, push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks etc. And you don’t need weights or any bulky machinery either. If you happen to have some lying around, great, incorporate them but they are definitely not requirements.
I’ve heard it said that ‘time is money’. Well yes, it is and more than that, it is precious. When it comes to using our precious time, quality over quantity is a good mantra to have. Just 10 minutes of HIIT burns more calories than 30 minutes on a treadmill. Workouts are typically between 15 and 30 minutes in duration leaving plenty of time for the other important things in life.
Also, as it takes up such a small nugget of our time it is easier to motivate ourselves to do it.
Burn calories – did I already mention that?
Improve cardiovascular health – in those with good heart health and those with cardiovascular problems.
Reduce body fat.
Improve metabolic health – including blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol.
Improve mental health – The authors of a 2019 review suggest that HIIT can provide a host of benefits for those with mental illness, including reducing the severity of depression.
So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to start feeling the benefits? Of course, you are, don’t be scared. There are plenty of videos and apps out there offering workouts and advice whether you’re a beginner or a HIIT aficionado.
The Body Coach himself… it would be wrong to talk about HIIT and not mention Joe. This is a great 20-minute workout for beginners, particularly if you’ve been sedentary for a while. The visual countdown on screen is really motivational.
If you’re really short on time try this micro 9-minute workout from 8Fit. Another great one if you’re just getting started as it is low impact. Working out with videos is a great motivator, it’s like having your own personal cheerleader. But you could try making up your own routine, for example:
30 seconds : squats
15 seconds : rest
30 seconds : jumping jacks
15 seconds : rest
30 seconds : high knees
15 seconds : rest
30 seconds : arm circles
15 seconds : rest
Repeat all two more times.
If you don’t know the difference between a burpee and a squat, the Nike Training Club app has some great exercises and explanatory videos, you’re welcome.
Hooked yet? There are many inspirational figures out there with a whole plethora of videos and challenges for you to follow, these are some of my favourites.
If you want to incorporate some weights into your workout this is a good one to follow. Heather Robertson is the queen of home workouts. They range from 15 minutes to 1 hour in length. Subscribe to her YouTube channel to get access to her workout plans.
Alex Crockford, creator of the CrockFit app, shows you how to smash your home workouts.
His name is now synonymous with HIIT home workouts so he deserves another mention, yes, I refer to the one and only Joe Wickes. In this video he steps it up a notch whilst still keeping it short and sweet.
Many of us are not hitting the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week, let alone the 10000 steps a day (ahem). For many of us also the option of going to the gym is not viable and may not be for a while yet, that’s why HIIT at home is a good way to go.
Three HIIT workouts a week will ensure you really start feeling those benefits within a couple of weeks. If you already get out regularly to run or cycle try doing a HIIT workout on your rest days. Or even better, squeeze one in before your usual training to make the most of that calorific after-burn. Need some more motivation? Create a league with your friends/colleagues and see who can do the most burpees in 30 seconds!
As the name suggests it is an intense workout but it’s a short one. Make that time count.