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Here's everything you need to know about HIIT, so you can make the most out of your time when working out.

At The Fitness Truck® we’re here to help everyone get the most out of health & fitness, whatever level you’re at. When it comes to working out, there is so much choice available that it can be very difficult to differentiate between fact or fad. We’ve put together our series of “workout widsom” to help debunk the myths out there, so you have all the information you need to try something new, or perhaps revisit an old favourite.  

What is HIIT?

To kick us off, we’ve put the spotlight on HIIT – short for High Intensity Interval Training. Gaining popularity through the 2010’s the idea behind the HIIT approach is to get the most effective workout in the least amount of time, which is a seemingly perfect fit for our increasingly busy lives. Workouts tend to be around 30mins long, meaning even those with jam-packed schedules start to run out of excuses! You can expect a HIIT session to be a combination of short bursts of high-energy exercises with periods of rest, or lower intensity activity. Why do it this way? Well, it uses serious amounts of energy which means you burn calories more quickly both during your workout and long after you finish.  

How does it work?

By working out in short bursts at 100% effort, you’re forcing your muscles to work anaerobically (without oxygen). When your muscles are starved of oxygen, your body produces lactic acid to help keep them working properly. When this lactic acid is produced, adrenaline comes with it, and this is what speeds up both the fat burn and muscle build that you’re looking for.

What are the benefits?

The obvious answer is that it can be a very effective way to get the most from a workout if you’ve only got a limited amount of time. The reality is that for most of us, staying active is something we have to consciously fit in to our day-to-day lives and it can be one of the first things we sacrifice when our diary gets too hectic. Choosing HIIT means you’re spending less time working out without having to compromise on the results.A decent HIIT workout doesn’t need any specialist equipment, it doesn’t need to be done in a gym or a studio and it doesn’t need to cost you a penny. There are plenty of exercises that use only body weight; as long as you can get a bit of clear floor space, you’re good to go!When done right, a HIIT session helps to increase your metabolism, so you continue to benefit post-workout. Do you ever find that about half an hour after a workout, you’re suddenly incredibly hungry? This is evidence that your metabolism has had a boost from all the work you’ve put in – just be careful to make sensible choices with your post-HIIT snacks so you don’t undo all your efforts. 

Are there any downsides?

The first point we’d make here is that these 30-minute workouts are designed to be intense. If you push too hard and your body can’t handle it, there’s a high risk of injury so it’s really important that you’re doing each exercise safely.Now let’s get technical; there have been a number of different studies conducted into the benefits HIIT can offer. When researchers talk about HIIT, they specifically mean intervals during which a person’s heart rate reaches at least 80 percent of its maximum capacity for between one to five minutes, with periods of rest or less intense exercise. Although smart watches and fitness trackers can definitely help here, it’s not easy (especially since you’re busy giving it 100% effort…right?) to know when you’ve reached that 80% or how long you’ve been there. Unfortunately, as with life there are no quick wins here, and the fat-burning powers of HIIT won’t help if combined with a poor diet. It’s much easier to see results when you reduce your calorie intake through sensible food choices, rather than trying to burn off excess calories you’ve consumed.Whilst you do continue to burn energy (and calories) well after you’ve finished your session, you need to be careful not to over-estimate the benefits you’re getting. It can be all too easy to fall into the “treat yo’self” mindset! This means that, although you worked hard, you may end up eating more food afterwards because you feel like you’ve earned it.  

How can I give it a go?

25 Min Home HIIT Workout – 30s on : 30s off. Complete 5 sets

  • Bodyweight Squats (Pulse for progression)
  • Press-ups (Decline for progression)
  • Bodyweight Lunges (jump for progression)
  • Crunches
  • Plank

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