High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been gaining popularity in the last several years, thanks to programs like P90X and Insanity. Personal trainers have long touted this approach to fitness because it’s efficient (a 15-minute workout can often yield the same calorie burn as a 45-minute run), uses multiple muscle groups at once, and primes the body to conserve and burn fuel economically. HIIT classes are generally 45-60 minutes, depending on the studio you visit. Classes can range from as few as two people to as many as 40, and your interaction with the instructor will vary at each.
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It focuses on short bursts of all-out, very intense work followed by a short period of rest. True HIIT workouts are typically very short because you can’t maintain that level of output easily. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, sculpt and tone or improve your endurance, HIIT workouts are a fast-paced way to get the most out of your gym time.
Interval training workouts are also often lumped into HIIT, but they are slightly different. Interval training follows a similar workout style of a period of work followed by a period of rest, but the intensity is typically much lower than a HIIT workout.
The main difference between interval training and HIIT is the level of intensity. HIIT workouts are typically very intense and very short (less than 20 minutes long). Interval training follows the same format and challenges your body, but doesn’t leave you as gassed as a HIIT workout. Both give you a great workout by increasing your cardio endurance and muscle strength.
The benefits of HIIT and interval training HIIT are increased cardio ability, increased strength and a great workout from both HIITand interval training classes . Both styles of workout are designed to work the entire body in short, intense blasts, building rest into the workout to improve recovery time and allow the body to fuel up for the next round. It’s tremendously effective because it keeps the body guessing. Fuel reserves remain more readily available during and after HIIT (in many situations, for up to eight hours afterward), and it keeps your metabolism active.
Anyone can complete a HIIT workout. To do HIIT simply pick one activity to go all out for 20 seconds, then follow that with 20 seconds of rest — and repeat.
In order to get a full-body workout, HIIT works multiple muscle groups, while incorporating plyometrics and isometrics — in addition to bursts of cardio. Think jumping switch lunges, plyometric push-ups, high-knee runs, and burpees. Depending on the studio, you may also use equipment, such as kettlebells, jump ropes, free weights and boxes or steps. Part of the reason HIIT is so effective is its built-in variety.
The structure of a HIIT workout varies, with each session lasting a different period of time. In general, expect a period of work, followed by a period of rest, repeated across multiple sets with different moves for the duration of your workout. One of the most common HIIT formats is Tabata — which is 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, usually performed in sets of eight.
Dress in workout gear you can move and sweat in. Supportive waistbands are key, as is fabric that wicks sweat away from the body to keep you cool. When it comes to footwear, some HIIT classes are taught barefoot, but usually only if the floor is padded. A structured sneaker or flat CrossFit shoe works well. Just remember that your knees may be taking some impact and you may need to move quickly. Whatever is comfortable and supports your feet is perfect.
The cost of an interval training or HIIT class will vary depending on your location, but you can expect to pay between $10 and $35 per class. Drop-in classes will be more expensive than a membership to a local studio, but skip that all when you sign up for classes through the ClassPass app.