How to Perform High Intensity Interval Training

by Updated March 17, 2010

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a great way to take your workout to a new level. It is a way to perform your cardiovascular training quickly and effectively to boost your metabolism for up to 18 hours while burning fat and getting toned.

Step One – Set Up Your Intervals

If you are just starting out with intervals, you should keep your intervals longer until your body has become accustomed to them. An example would be to alternate 60 seconds of a higher intensity with two minutes of a low to moderate intensity recovery period. By starting slowly, you will let your body adjust and slowly gain endurance. Working too hard right off the bat can increase your risk of injury and is dangerous when your body is not prepared for it. Shorten your intervals every two weeks to keep your workout progressing. Try not to go over 20 minutes total as a general rule.  

Step Two – Choose Your Intensity

When you begin your high intensity portion of the intervals, ideally you are aiming for as fast a speed as you can manage followed by a moderately paced speed where you can catch your breath without having to stop altogether. As a beginner, you may not be able to go faster than jogging for the first few weeks; however, if you stick to your program, you will see results very quickly. Increase your speed every two weeks. Try doing it the opposite week you adjust the times on your intervals, so that you body does not have a chance to become too familiar with anything. The more unexpected the exercise, the more calories and fat you are going to burn.

Step Three – Maintain a Routine

In order for HIIT to benefit you, whether that’s becoming a faster runner, being able to run for longer or burning fat, you will need to incorporate it into your exercise routine. Give yourself at least two days to recover but no more than three days off in a row. HIIT burns a lot of energy and it will take your body a few days to restock your supplies so that you can continue to work at such high intensities.

Step Four – Keep Alternating

In order for your body to continue to make progress, you are going to have to keep changing up the program.  Remember, you can always change the length of time of the intervals to different ratios and same with the speeds. Try alternating 2 minutes of sprinting with 45 seconds of recovery once you really get good at it.  



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