So, you’ve heard about interval training and are interested in giving it a try. Maybe you heard that you can work out less and get better results. Maybe you’ve heard that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) outperforms steady-state cardio in terms of fat loss. You want to work out efficiently. Don’t want to waste your time doing long workouts that give you less in terms of results. You want to leverage science to make your routine as efficient as possible!
Well, you’re on the right track. Studies are consistently confirming the benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. Whether you’re looking for fat loss or cardiovascular fitness HIIT might be a magic bullet solution.
Why interval training?
One of the main selling points of HIIT workouts is how short they can be. An hour-long workout can seem impossible to fit into a busy day, but HIIT promises to deliver results in workouts as short as 7 minutes. In less time than it takes to prepare your morning coffee you could be making real improvements to your health.
High Intensity Interval training is also backed by lots of studies. Unlike a lot of fitness trends, science is on HIIT’s side. When there are so many workout theories and options knowing that studies are showing concrete, measurable benefits can be a deciding factor.
Why heart rate training?
Once you’re sold on HIIT workouts it’s time to just get started. Still, like most things, that can seem easier said than done. How do you know that you’re working hard enough? What types of workout routines should you be following? How long should your workouts last? How do you measure your performance and progress?
The best companion for HIIT workouts is Heart Rate Training. Heart rate training gives you tools to objectively measure your intensity and effort. Rather than guessing and hoping that you’re putting in enough work to reap the benefits of HIIT workouts, heart rate training gives your accurate measures that are specific to your body, your fitness, and your health.
What are your goals?
The best way to measure your goals is to first identify them. The more specific you can be when you are creating your goals the easier it is to plan for and track your progress. Want to lose weight? Set small, achievable weight loss goals and create a reasonable timeframe to achieve them. Want to improve your health? Try setting measurable goals like lowering your resting heart rate or improving your heart rate variability scores.
Other measurable goals include improving your running distance or race times, improving your performance at other sports, or achieving workout minute or calorie burn goals.
How do you calculate your heart rate?
It’s important to know a few key numbers when you’re starting out with HIIT style workouts. Even though your fitness app will probably calculate these for you it’s important to understand what they mean. First, it’s important to get to know your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is essentially how frequently your heart beats when you are completely at rest. This gives you a baseline to measure your intensity from. Most people find that their resting heart rate falls between 50 and 100 beats per minute. There are a lot of factors that determine your resting heart rate ranging from your age, gender, and fitness level.
If you are using heart rate zones in your workout monitoring you will want your heart rate to reach above 90% of your maximum heart rate during your ‘work’ intervals.
In FITIV Pulse this zone is called the RED LINE zone. During your work intervals you should feel as if you are exerting yourself at maximum intensity. During your rest intervals you should be resting enough to feel able to continue for your next work period. If this involved being completely at rest, then do so. It is more important to reach higher intensities during your work periods than to maintain any sort of intensity during your rest periods.
You also need to know your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the highest possible heart rate value that you can achieve. This number represent your heart at 100% intensity. The closer you get to your maximum heart rate the more intensely you are working out.
In order to keep an eye on your heart rate values you need to have a heart rate monitor and a way of tracking an observing your heart rate both in-workout and after your workouts are finished. Various heart rate monitors including electrode chest straps and smart watches are available at different price points to help track these values.
How do you improve?
Like any other workout plan you can’t expect to see results too quickly. It takes time for your body and mind to adapt to any new routine. HIIT workouts are certainly no exception to this rule. Still, there are a few ways to make sure that you are making progress even before you start seeing those concrete improvements.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you really need to stay consistent. A single workout can only do so much. It is important to not push yourself too hard when starting any new routine. If you’re too intense right out of the gate you could end up with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) that can keep you benched when you should be working out. Keep yourself working out at a level and duration that you can manage. While HIIT workouts are supposed to be challenging, if you find that you can’t work out for day afterwards you may want to slow down or shorten those workouts. Consistency is more important than intensity, so when you’re forced to choose between the two remember that any workout is better than none.
As you continue working out using the HIIT technique you may find your workouts are feeling easier and easier. If that is the case make sure that you’re constantly ramping up your effort. HIIT workouts won’t work for you if you’re not working hard enough during those bursts of intensity. The secret to getting fit with HIIT is to work as hard as possible during those bouts of intensity, so make sure that as your workouts get easier you’re working harder. Keeping track of your heart rate can show you when you need to start upping your game. Choose more challenging moves, replace modifications with traditional techniques, and make use of explosive movements to keep you in the right zone.
Even if your heart rate is on track during your workouts you may still find that they are getting easier over time. To maximize both the cardio and weight-control benefits of HIIT workouts try adding a few minutes to your routine. If you’re pressed for time, consider adding more resistance. Ankle or wrist weights can give you a bit of much-needed resistance. Also, try swapping out moves for more intense bodyweight exercises or bring weights into the mix. A kettlebell can be a great, intuitive, and easy to use addition to your HIIT routine.
Ready to get started?
Sick of learning and ready to get started? Download FITIV Pulse, connect it with your preferred heart rate monitor, and get started now.