Last year, after some back issues and my transition from a 9-5er to freelancer, my exercise regime took a bit of a back seat. As I became more inactive behind my laptop and more lethargic, my goal this year was to step up my exercise again, gain back some strength and increase my endurance levels.
Although I’ve always been physically active from a dancer in my younger years, to a pretty regular gym-goer and keen walker, with a good level of strength training, I’m sure like many of you; I have a problem with spending HOURS in the gym.
For the time poor, and those wanting a trimmer and more toned physique, HIIT training has been a powerful form of exercise for me and helped shed some ‘working from home’ inches, but it also keeps my mind alert, helps relieve stress and it’s perfect for my overall wellbeing.
What is HIIT training?
HIIT consists of low to moderate intensity intervals, alternated with high-intensity intervals like running as fast as you can for 1 minute, then walking for 2 minutes then repeating this cycle for 15-minutes.
You can apply HIIT to running, cycling or more strength based exercises like squats and press ups. This form of training is considered much more effective than normal cardio because of the increase of both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more fat in the process.
As part of a balanced diet and exercise programme HIIT training holds a whole host of benefits as highlighted below.
Forget about the number staring at you on the scales. It’s not a good indicator of your bone density, frame or muscle mass and will only frustrate you when you fluctuate. Interval training can help you achieve a good shape for you and your body type.
Include weights alongside your HIIT training like kettlebell training and you’ll be slipping into the jeans hidden in the back of your wardrobe in no time.
It’s perfect for the time poor
Research shows you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training, carried out three times a week, than running on the treadmill for an hour.
HIIT training can be completed in a mere 15-30 minutes, depending on what stage you are in your HIIT training programme.
It speeds up your metabolism
HIIT stimulates the production of your human growth hormone (HGH) during the 24 hours after your workout when the intense exertion revs up your body’s repair cycle. HGH also slows down the aging process, so not only will you be burning calories and fat after your HIIT session, but you’ll also stay looking younger for longer too!
You’ll increase endurance
According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just two weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training. Ultimately, you’ll feel stronger and healthier.
Fuel yourself correctly pre and post training
Because of the energy exerted during HIIT training, it’s important you include a small, high energy snack like my Raw Hazelnut, Chia, and Coconut Energy Bites or a shot of Pip & Nut before training.
I also incorporate green tea before and during my HIIT workout. Green tea is not only packed full of antioxidants and nutrients but helps improve performance and increase endurance by boosting the metabolic rate and increasing the fat burning process.
My go-to green tea is Twinings, who have an innovative new range of steamed green teas. Made using a centuries-old Chinese method of steaming the green tea leaves – that gives a purer, more delicate taste than a standard green tea, it’s perfect for those who find other green teas a little bitter like I do.
They’re also super handy for slipping into my gym or handbag as each teabag is individually foil-wrapped to lock in the flavour for extra freshness. It’s ideal as a plant-based caffeine boost before you hit the gym.
Make your usual green tea, let it cool and place into your gym water bottle to sip during rest moments in the training. Try Twinings steamed green tea with smooth lemon which gives a lovely fresh edge. Post-exercise, I love to kick back with their Garden mint or jasmine green tea blends.
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*There are many HIIT programmes online, but do speak to a professional fitness trainer for a programme right for you and always consult a doctor before starting any intensive form of exercise training like HIIT.