How Long Should A HIIT Workout Be?
How Long Should A HIIT Workout Be?
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been training forever, you have probably heard of a HIIT workout.
High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT, has become a popular type of workout. It can be very effective to help you reach your fitness goals BUT, like many things health-related, there can be some confusion about how a HIIT cardio workout should be done and whether a short workout is effective.
I’m going to help clear up some of this confusion, covering questions like ‘how long should a HIIT workout be?’ and ‘how often should you do them?’ —so keep reading for my answers!
What is a HIIT workout?
As mentioned, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, which is a workout style that features short intervals of high-intensity cardio followed by a rest period. Because your body is working at a high intensity, your heart rate increases and your ability to burn calories increases. Plus, if you are truly reaching the desired intensity, the increased fat-burning potential can continue even after the workout is done.
While the name High-Intensity Interval Training might sound overwhelming or scary, it basically means you will be alternating between tough work periods and rest or easier work periods. The important thing to remember here is that ‘hard work’ is relative — you will be pushing yourself to an intensity that is hard for you. I’ll explain this in more detail later on.
What is the difference between LISS and HIIT?
Low-Intensity Steady State or LISS cardio is a form of cardio where you maintain the same pace for a set period of time. This could be an activity such as walking on a treadmill, hiking, cycling, swimming or rowing.
The main difference between LISS and HIIT is the intensity. With LISS, the aim is to exercise at a steady, consistent pace — maintaining the intensity for the whole training session.
With HIIT, the workouts tend to be shorter but the intensity of the workout should be much higher.
What are the benefits of HIIT cardio?
There are two reasons why people love a HIIT cardio workout — it can help to burn more calories and it can produce something called the ‘afterburn’ effect.
In basic terms, after you finish a HIIT workout, you can continue burning fat. Your body works harder to deliver more oxygen to your muscles, which means you are burning calories for longer.
How long should a HIIT workout be?
Typically, a HIIT workout should be done within 15-20 minutes, not including a warm up and cool down. If the workout is going for longer, you may not be pushing yourself to the intended intensity — and potentially not giving yourself the chance to reap the most benefits.
The goal of high-intensity training is to elevate your heart rate into a zone that is close to that of your maximum heart rate during the work periods. This relates back to what I was saying earlier regarding an intensity that is hard for you. Your target heart rate zone is a personal guideline, so getting close to your maximum heart rate may be something to work towards — initially, you might aim to get your heart rate within the lower end of the target heart rate zone as a starting point.
HIIT workouts can also be tailored by varying the work-to-rest ratios. For example, beginners may use a 1:2 ratio, training all-out for 60 seconds and then resting for twice as long. People who have been doing HIIT for longer may transition to a 1:1 ratio; that is, training at high intensity for 60 seconds and resting for 60 seconds before repeating.
As you progress with HIIT training, you may choose to begin shortening the ‘work’ periods slightly — for example, going from 60 seconds to 45 seconds. Shorter work periods means you can reach a higher intensity (thanks to your increased fitness level) because you don’t have to sustain the work period for as long. Just remember you want to progress to a tougher work-to-rest ratio, so you should reduce the length of your rest too.
What are some examples of HIIT cardio?
There can be different styles for a HIIT workout. Tabata workouts are really popular because they can be done in a short time period.
Treadmill sprints are one of the most common ways to do a HIIT workout but if you don’t have access to a treadmill, you can simply head to a park and do sprints on the grass. There are lots of ways to get your HIIT workout routine in place.
How important are rest periods during a HIIT workout?
The focus of high-intensity workouts is the intensity. You should be giving your all and really elevating your heart rate during the work period, then taking a rest break. Chances are you will feel so tired that you savour every second of that rest period.
The rest periods are also when your body prepares itself for the next work period, so don’t skip them!
How often should you do a HIIT workout?
You might already be sold on the positive effects of high-intensity workouts. Maybe you’re tempted to increase the number of workouts you’re doing in this style, especially because it is a short workout. Before you start adding HIIT to each day of your workout planner, keep in mind that your body needs recovery time, especially after such an intense workout.
Just like any form of training, if you are not getting sufficient rest you can put yourself at risk of overtraining or an injury. Because HIIT requires so much of your body, make sure you are having a break of a day or two between each session as well.
Including HIIT in your routine
If you’re following my BBG program, HIIT might already be part of your routine. Because your body really has to work hard, HIIT may not be the best option for a beginner — but it does give you a goal to work towards!
While HIIT workouts are short on time, they can have benefits for your body long after you finish the workout. Don’t be scared to try this style of workout, ladies! Mixing your workouts up can help you to avoid a plateau and it keeps training interesting!
Love, Kayla xx
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.