All the Components of a Successful HIIT Workout

HIIT workouts are a great alternative to spending an hour or more at the gym. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a quick way to get both strength training and cardio into a workout. It increases your body’s need for oxygen during the workout and forces the body to use more effort post-workout to return those oxygen levels to normal (that’s why it burns calories even after the workout). A HIIT workout requires you to push yourself harder than you would, say, jogging on a treadmill, but the workout is quicker. Here’s everything you need to include in a successful HIIT workout.

HIIT workout

HIIT workouts are even more effective than going for a run. | criene/Getty Images

A quick warmup

You shouldn’t step right into your HIIT workout. Try to get your body ready for what’s to come by doing something simple that will get your heart rate up, such as brisk walking for three to five minutes. You may want to do a few simple stretches as well. A HIIT workout might be quick, but your muscles will definitely feel the burn by the time you’re done, so make sure to warm them up a bit.

At least 15 minutes of exercise, but not more than 30

The point of a HIIT workout is to give your absolute most. That means you’ll be extremely tired after a short while, so it’s important to listen to your body and not push it too hard. If you’re new to HIIT workouts, aim for only about 15 minutes. You can work your way up as your stamina gets higher, but don’t totally overwork yourself the first time.

Quick rest periods

You need to make sure you’re giving yourself rest periods between workouts. This is what allows your body to recover in between your intense efforts, which helps you see the entire workout through and not get too fatigued halfway in. Try to work out for at least one minute, and give your all. Then, reward yourself with a 30-second rest period before moving on to the next exercise.

Strength workouts

The HIIT you choose to do needs to include some kind of strength workout. Lunges, squats, and sit ups are good strength workouts that will still get your blood pumping. The point is to send your muscles into overdrive and increase the amount of oxygen your body needs. This gets your body to work harder. You can feel free to use dumb bells during your workout, but they aren’t necessary. The no-equipment HIIT workouts can be just as effective and done anywhere. Planks are also a great workout to include, since they work your entire body and can take up a full minute of exercise.

Cardio workouts

Your body definitely needs to get its heart rate up in order to see the optimal results. Jumping rope is a great exercise to include in a HIIT workout because it works your leg muscles and increases your heart rate the same way running would. Buy a jump rope with weighted handles to give your arms a workout, too. Other cardio workouts you can include are jumping jacks, mountain climbers, sprints, and burpees. Most cardio exercises work other muscles, too, and getting that double whammy into your workout is important.

Remember to give 100% effort

The only way to see a successful HIIT workout is to work as hard as you can. If you’re not giving 100%, it defeats the point of the exercise. Using up your body’s oxygen means that during the recovery period, your body must work harder to get those oxygen levels back to normal. This means you still burn calories long after the workout. The HIIT workout is a great alternative to spending a lot of time at the gym, and it’s just as beneficial — if not more — than those longer, more dragged out workouts.

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