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One of the first things a person will learn about me is that I am a gym rat, and that I spend more time at the gym than I probably need to or should. In general, I’m a person that gets bored pretty quickly, and I actually started working out in the first place to escape from the mountains of dull readings I had for class, and the barren wastelands that are my social media accounts. Even within my realm of fitness, falling into a monotonous workout regimen just doesn’t cut it for me. Out of all of the stimulating workout routines I have Googled, and maybe even tried, I have to say that none is as exciting, challenging and addictive as HIIT.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a type of interval training, involving short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low or moderate intensity exercise. The key element behind HIIT is that the burst of high intensity exercise requires maximum effort from your entire body, as opposed to just increasing your heart rate; it trains and conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic systems. In short, you are pushed beyond your limits of bodily comfort to make you feel like you’re on the verge of collapse. But fear not, your body will recover during the longer, low/moderate exercise intervals.



So, what does HIIT actually do to, and do for, your body?

  • You burn calories at a faster rate- Long, low/moderate intensity cardio exercise burns calories at a rate of 60 percent, and high intensity exercise burns at a rate of 35 percent. However, a HIIT workout actually increases the rate at which you burn calories, so a HIIT workout of the same duration as a low/moderate workout will end up burning more calories.
  • You boost your metabolism- Any high intensity training will increase your metabolic rate. HIIT studies have shown, though, that your metabolism will continue to function at that high rate for up to 24 hours after you’ve finished your workout.
  • You lose fat while maintaining the muscle you have- Compared to traditional constant-interval cardio exercise, HIIT appears to limit the muscle loss that can occur with weight loss.
  • Your body will be constantly challenged- HIIT’s quick-changing format offers even the most experienced exercisers a new challenge. The intervals are short so you will be working hard literally the entire time.

This is science!

Besides all of these refreshing things HIIT does for my body, I’ve also discovered just how much more convenient of a workout it is when compared to, say, running on the treadmill for an hour. Because HIIT is comprised of short intervals that are bursting with energy, your body gets fatigued fairly quickly. Thus, all you really need to do is about 15 minutes worth of exercising to get the same results as an hour-long run. Additionally, HIIT relies on basic exercises like running in place, jump rope, dips, jumping jack, mountain climbers, wall sits, lunges and high knees. Other than your appendages, you do not need any equipment for these exercises, which also means you can do this anywhere- your bedroom, backyard, kitchen, you name it! The Daily HIIT offers a bunch of sample exercises, video tutorials and tips to help you during your next HIIT workout.



Before you bolt to the gym to try this out, be sure to keep these considerations in mind:

  • HIIT is hard on your body, and you shouldn’t attempt it unless you’re already in fairly good shape. If need be, start with moderate exercise until your fitness level improves and then incorporate HIIT as a way to push yourself. Before starting HIIT, you should be able to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your estimated maximum heart rate without exhausting yourself.
  • HIIT can be as demanding as an ex who wants their favorite t-shirt back, so it’s important to gradually build up your training program so that you don’t overdo it.
  • Push yourself as hard as you can during the high intensity intervals until you feel a burning sensation in your muscles. That is the signal to return to your low/moderate intensity intervals.
  • If you legitimately feel like you’re body might implode on itself, then cool down immediately but do not just stop! Stopping abruptly can cause blood to pool in your extremities, leading to lightheadedness and/or faintness.

Good luck with your workouts, and remember to HIIT that!



Mount Holyoke College is a gender-inclusive, historically women's college in South Hadley, MA.
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