In interval training, you switch from strenuous workouts to recovery breaks. The ratio of the lengths of exertion to recovery depends on your general condition. As a general rule, beginners’ breaks are at least twice as long as the strenuous phases.
During the breaks you continue to exercise, but at a much lower intensity. The short recovery time is not enough to completely replenish the body's energy reserves before the next workout. This is what makes interval training effective: you burn lots of calories and boost your stamina at the same time.
HIIT – high-intensity interval training
There are many different ways of pushing the body to its peak with interval training – the main thing is that it is strenuous. HIIT – or high-intensity interval training – is one form of interval training. In the intensive phase of HIIT, you should aim to push yourself to your limits. This means that on a scale of 1 (completely relaxed) to 10 (extremely strenuous), you should aim for levels 8 to 9. Am I really not allowed to give in when it gets tough? No, because:
HIIT can be performed either indoors on a treadmill or bicycle, or just as well outdoors while running, cycling or swimming. People who prefer strength training spend the intensive phases doing full-body exercises. The best known method for this is Tabata training, which are exercises using your own body weight. These include push-ups, burpees, box jumps or jumping jacks.
This is why HIIT is effective
The quick switch from workout to recovery shortens the training time to 20-30 minutes, making it easier to build sport into your everyday routine. How about adding a short interval run during your lunch break, for example?
The body’s high oxygen consumption during the intensive training phases stimulates the cardiovascular system and boosts stamina. In addition, the body is busily burning fat – not only during the workouts but also after. Since the body needs energy after training to return to normal, body fat continues to be burned even after you’ve finished exercising.
A possible HIIT workout
First warm up at a moderate pace for at least ten minutes. This could be with a skipping rope or on the treadmill, in combination with squats or balance exercises – creativity is called for! The important thing is to exercise several muscle groups and joints before starting training.
- Example for beginners: exercise 8 x 15 seconds at high intensity and take an active pause for 45 seconds between each interval.
- Example for the more advanced: exercise 8 x 45 seconds at high intensity and take an active pause for 60 seconds between each interval.
At the end of a demanding workout like this, cool down with a gentle run of at least five minutes.
Is there anything I need to note before training?
As the name HIIT implies, the exercises exert great demands on the body. This means that not only is the preparation phase longer, but the recovery phase too. For this reason, it is best to schedule maximum two HIIT units per week and to warm up sufficiently before training.