Reader’s Request: “HIIT Me Baby…

One more time!

My cardiooooo is killin’ meeee

I must confess I need a new routine

(new routine)”

Ok I’ll stop now. But you should have seen the dance moves 😉

For today’s reader’s request, I thought it would be fun to focus on HIIT training, because they thing is, a LOT of people know what it is, but finding a way to incorporate it into your schedule and use if effectively can be the tricky part.

A quick HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) review:

HIIT training consists of short blasts of maximum effort, followed by recovery periods. You can perform HIIT on a variety of cardio equipment at the gym, or through plyometrics at home (such as jumping). HIIT training has been shown to quickly burn fat (shrink fat cells) more quickly than low-intensity cardio and increases aerobic and anaerobic endurance.


Anaerobic Energy System

    Anaerobic literally means "Without oxygen." The anaerobic energy system is what provides energy in all out efforts of up to 1 minute. For the first ~10-15 seconds, the phosphate pool is used up and after that, glycolysis and lactic acid are involved in the effort.

    During 10-15 second bursts, there is a very small amount of lactic acid produced and rest periods of 30 seconds to a minute will provide complete recovery of the Adenosine Triphosphate-Creatine Phosphate (ATP-CP) system. During efforts of more than 10-15 seconds, a large amount of lactic acid is produced and such efforts are extremely taxing on both the athlete’s muscles and their Central Nervous System (CNS).

 Aerobic Energy System

    Aerobic literally means "with oxygen." This energy system is utilized during prolonged exercise over a period of at least 3-4 minutes. As long as there is enough oxygen to provide energy, the fatigue that you experience will remain at a low level.

    This is the reason why many track and field athletes train at higher altitudes where there is less oxygen. By training at high altitudes, they can increase the number of red blood cells which will help them to perform for a longer period of time with little to no fatigue throughout.


HIIT training also has a high afterburn effect, so you burn more calories throughout the day.

Bella is a HUGE fan of HIIT!

(Sorry for the poor video quality- it was taken via iPhone at the dog park)

She loves to sprint with the big dogs, recover and repeat 🙂

Around 4 years ago, when I first learned the glory of HIIT, my trainer made the mistake of failing to tell me how often to incorporate it into my routine. So naturally, I did it every day. My body was sore and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting stronger. A quick Google search let me know that HIIT should NOT be done every day, but rather a few times (max) each week.

-Frequency: HIIT only needs to be done 2-3 times a week, on non-consecutive days. While cardio can be performed every day, it’s important to remember that we’re using our heart to maximum capacity. Our heart is the most important muscle in our body, and just like our biceps and other muscles we train, it needs time to rest and recover, too. By allowing ourselves to rest in between HIIT training days with lower-intensity or steady state cardio days, we allow higher fitness gains to occur. HIIT training will make you a stronger, faster athlete and also makes regular cardio sessions feel much easier.

-Mode: As I said before, HIIT can be done in a variety of ways: on the spin bike, treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, running on the track, jump-roping or through plyometric moves (like burpees, vertical jumps, anything that will get the heart rate up very quickly). A fun way to change up your HIIT routine is through exploring a different mode, or checking out a HIIT-based DVD, such as TurboFire.


Bonus: you can do it anywhere 🙂

-Intensity: The idea behind HIIT is that you want to go balls to the wall for a short burst (30 seconds to 1 minute) and recover. Lather, rinse, repeat. My favorite interval set is 30 seconds on, 1 minute 30 seconds off, but find the best set that works for you. You may find that you like 45 seconds on, 2 minutes off, 30 seconds on, 2 minutes off, etc—play around and see what set you like best. If you get to the point where a certain set starts to feel easy, try increasing the amount of “go” time, or decreasing the amount of recovery time.

-Duration: HIIT workouts are SHORT workouts! 15-20 minutes of work is all you need. As with all workouts, make sure to sandwich the HIIT part in between a warm-up, cool down and juicy stretch session.

Some more tips:

-Wearing a heart rate monitor is an excellent tool for HIIT training. This way, you can make sure your heart rate has come down before going for the next interval set. You may find that you need more time to recover in between sprints, which is totally cool. A heart rate monitor can be your guide. If you don’t have one, go by the “talk test.” If you can fully speak a sentence after recovering (without gasping for breath), you’re ready to go again.

-If you’re going at HIIT training al fresco or without cardio equipment to use the clock, investing in an interval timer can be worth your while. You can set it to vibrate, beep mode and clip it to your tank or sports bra.

I love the Gymboss (pink!) interval timer 🙂

jump rope

-Haven’t tried HIIT before? Make sure to talk with a doc or trainer in your area to see if it’s a good *fit* for you 🙂

Hope this helped a little!

Off to do the work thang 🙂

See ya later friends.



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  1. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on June 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I’ve never done an HIIT workout before – they look so tiring! But I’ve been struggling to find time to workout lately with my work schedule, so maybe I should consider HIIT…

  2. Marie on June 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks SO much for this post; it came at just the right time!!! I usually love working out, however this week I’ve been lacking the motivation & energy and didn’t know why. I’ve been doing four times a week, in addition to 4-5 HIIT workouts on the treadmill. I’ll definitely be scaling back from now on!

  3. Annie@stronghealthyfit on June 16, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Reading your blog is inspiring and enabling me to change up my workouts, which were in a serious rut! Thank you thank you 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 1:17 am

      glad it helped a little!

  4. Ellie@fitforthesoul on June 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I loooove HIIT type of training and that’s usually the kind I always do–with weights/bodyweight/plyo style. So effective in every sense of the word 😀 Have you tried the TABATA routine? And I have the same pink gymboss woowhooo!

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 1:16 am

      i haven’t but know a few friends that love it! i may have to give it a whirl 🙂

  5. SmileCrave on June 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Love HIIT work outs!!! Just so ya know, there’s an APP on Iphone for HIIT training, you can make your own timers!! It’s awesome! (Gymboss has one… some are free!) 🙂 xoxo Hope you and your itty bitty are doing well… i’m just sdja;soitaw;ejnta;sdah;w so excited for you LOL!!! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 1:16 am

      the itty bitty… so cute 🙂

  6. Lisa on June 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Bella is so funny. She thinks she’s a big dog. My little ones do that too; they have no clue.

  7. Vivianne on June 16, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I have never tried HIIT but you talk about it all the time. I’m going to the gym tomorrow with my friend… I think I’ll try this!!

  8. alicia on June 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I downloaded an HIIT app and can set it for 5 min warm up then whatever time on and whatever time off, then how many rounds I want to do. I did jump roping in my front yard with my kids and they loved it!!! They loved trying to keep active until the timer went off. A great way to get you and the kids active!

  9. Meghan @ StruggleMuffins on June 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I love HIIT – took me a little while to get into because I’ve always been a low, slow and steady cardio kinda girl but now that I’ve experienced the magic of HIIT, I’m never going to turn my back on it. Question: did you notice a change in appetite when you started doing it? I know you said you were doing it every day at first, so that can obvs affect things, but was just curious. I just recently added a teeny bit more HIIT and more Zumba to my already running-and-power yoga-packed routine and have been a hungry hungry hippo.

  10. Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) on June 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I just clicked on the video and now Rocky is randomly barking under his breath, haha! He wants to do HIIT with Bella!

  11. Caroline @ Everyday-Caroline on June 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks for the great post! I love HIITS but never really knew the actual benefits of them! I always struggle to put them into my weekly workout routine!

  12. Avery on June 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I love love love my heart rate monitor. It is so enlightening to see what my heart is actually doing, rather than going by my perceived effort. I do interval training quite a bit, and actually realized I was doing too much of it. I hardly ever had a workout of completely steady state cardio, which meant my body never actually got time to recover and build stamina. Despite running 5 days a week, I was actually getting slower and my runs felt harder. Once I finally saw what my heart rate was doing, I could make an effort to slow down on most of my runs and push myself with intervals just a couple times a week.

  13. Tracy C. on June 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I love the video of Bella doing HIIT!

  14. Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen on June 17, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Love HIIT for days that I’m short on time, but really want to get in a sweaty workout! Can you do a post in the future on stretching? I always hear people (myself included) say “I’m a bad stretcher” or “I never know how long or when (before? after? both?) I should be doing it for” or “I don’t stretch.” I’d love to hear a trainer’s perspective and I think lots of other bad stretchers would find it useful.

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 1:13 am

      stretch after, 15-30 seconds each muscle group 🙂
      i was thinking of doing a stretch video to give some examples

  15. Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) on June 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    LOVE HIIT. If fact, the last couple of months, the only cardio I have done is short HIIT and plyo bursts b/w sets of strength moves. Haven’t done steady state in forever and don’t miss it at all.

  16. Kelley on June 18, 2011 at 7:26 am

    If you love HIIT like I do, try I couldn’t do HIIT without it.

  17. Ashley Hamilton on March 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Well I guess that explains why I felt lazy today. I just started doing intervals and I did them two days in a row and now today my legs are feeling so tired. Probably because I hit them with two intense workouts with no recovery day.

    • Fitnessista on March 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      ZING. exactly right. rest up, girlfriend

  18. Julie M on May 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Just did my first HIIT workout with a jump rope (I’ve done it on the elliptical and treadmill before) and holy moly am I feeling the burn….

    • Fitnessista on May 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

      and your body will be burning extra throughout the day, too!

  19. Fitness Friday – HIIT it! | My Healthy Happy Home on December 28, 2013 at 10:06 am

    […] incorporating more HIIT training into my workouts lately.  You can find more helpful information here and here’s a few more awesome workouts in case you want to try […]

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