Learn how to take advantage of HIIT training with these expert insights. Katelyn Swallow writes.

How to reap the benefits of HIIT training



No surprises here. High-intensity interval training comprises short bursts of activity where the heart rate sky-rockets followed by equally short periods of rest or ‘active recovery’. Made popular by its reputation for producing significant fat loss and fitness results in a limited amount of time, it has been pounced upon by modern fitness franchises.

“Short bursts of high intensity trigger the heart and lungs to increase their efficiency in oxygen uptake at a faster rate than endurance training, which in turn increases your fitness and translates to better overall health,” says Phillips.

“I’m a fan of HIIT for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s so adaptable; any fitness level can do it, beginners with a modified version of course, and it works for most workout types: from strength training to fitness, to weight loss, to athletic conditioning.

“Secondly, it’s one of the most time- efficient ways to train, which is perfect in this time-poor world. It means that a 20-min session CAN get you great results. You can do it indoors or outdoors, with equipment or just your body weight.”

HIIT’s variety of formats means it's also enjoyable, aiding long-term motivation.

“The flow of the workout means you get ample rest breaks, so it’s not as mentally taxing. And it certainly gets those exercise happy endorphins pumping,” adds Phillips.

That said, higher intensities are not as beneficial to those already suffering from elevated cortisol levels, anxiety or stress.

“More nurturing workouts such as yoga and Pilates can help train your mind to connect with your breathing and teach you how to regulate the stress- promoting thoughts that can consume us,” says Phillips. “For lung busters, steady-state cardio such as running or walking can turn into a moving meditation, especially if you start to use mantra words or music to manage your stress.”

Use it:

“Many trainers adopt the super-short 10- or 20-second intervals; but in my experience, especially with the general population, these short blasts are done either at a lower, less effective intensity, or the all-out 110 per cent effort increases the risk of injury,” says Phillips.

Phillips suggests opting for work intervals of 30 seconds–four minutes for beginner to moderate fitness levels.