By: Will Sunner and Bruce Burke

When we think of exercising, we too often think in terms of modalities; running, weightlifting, biking, etc. What we really should be focusing on is the protocol we use to implement these different modalities. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective, time-efficient protocols one can use to get/stay lean and improve their fitness.

A HIIT program consists of high intensity exercise followed by a rest interval. The most important component of a HIIT program is the work-to-rest ratio, which is determined based on your work capacity. High intensity work should range from 80%-100% of maximal exertion and can last anywhere from 6 seconds to 4 minutes. Rest periods can consist of passive recovery (i.e. very little movement/light stretching) or active recovery (i.e. bodyweight exercises).

In comparison to steady state endurance exercise, studies (Perry et al. 2008) have shown that fat oxidation, or fat burning, is significantly higher after 6 weeks of HIIT training. Another study (Talanian et al. 2007), showed similar results, but in an even shorter time frame. Studies have also shown that HIIT’s positive effect on EPOC makes it an even more powerful fat burner compared to steady state training.

Another benefit of HIIT training is its versatility. Since the tools and exercise options are endless, you can perform HIIT training anytime, anywhere. Below are a few examples of what you can use to develop a HIIT program:

  • Bodyweight exercises (i.e. push-ups, squat jumps, lunge variations, etc.)
  • Resistance bands
  • Medicine balls
  • Battle ropes
  • Dumbbells or Kettlebells
  • Cardiovascular equipment (i.e. treadmill, bike, rower, etc.)
  • Running and cycling (incorporate sprints)

HIIT programs clearly provide more bang for your exercise buck. Why spend 60+ minutes exercising when you can get better results from 30 minutes? Don’t misunderstand us…steady state exercise (jogging, cycling, etc.) has many benefits, particularly for our mental health. A long run in the country is often just what the doctor ordered! But when it comes to time-efficiency and effectiveness, you can’t beat HIIT training.