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  • Lynn Peters

What is HIIT?

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a smart form of exercise to add to your training programme. You train intensely for a short period and then work at 50 percent effort for a longer period to recover and then repeat.


There are different ways to do this. My personal favorite is to run flat out for 10 seconds and then walk back to the starting position and repeat 10 times. I know, it sounds easy, right? No. By the time you get to your eighth sprint you are wondering why exactly you decided on 10 sprints and not 8!


The other exercise I do is Tabata training. You work hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times. Usually you will do the whole 4 minutes of the same exercise (such as push-ups) and then rest for a minute before going on to the next exercise and following the same timings. This can be done for 4 different exercises to give a good 20 minute workout.


Commonly patients tell me they do not have time for exercise due to work and family commitments but I think modifying the Tabata is a good way to combat this.


If you were to chose 4 exercises such as push-ups, squats, burpees and sit-ups you could alternate these.


You could do push-ups for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, do squats for 20 seconds, rest etc. 


You would do each exercise twice during the 4 minutes and then rest for 1 minute and then either repeat the same exercises or chose a different combination of four exercises to complete an additional tabata.

The important factor is to work different muscle groups with each exercise as ultimately you should aim for chest, quadriceps, glutes/ hamstrings, upper back or abdominals. This is why it is good to mix it up a bit. You can use the internet to search for tabatas.


The main thing with this type of exercise is the need to push yourself as hard as you can for the 20 second intervals. It is also quite hard to time yourself effectively (how can you push yourself hard whilst watching the clock?!) and I have found apps such as 'Seconds' to be effective.


Tabatas can be done every other morning if they are the modified short 10 minutes version. A full longer set should only be done once or twice a week. It is better to incorporate it into your training rather than limit your training to HIIT alone.


If you really feel this is too much then why not consider doing a set of exercises next time you sit to watch your favourite TV programs? During every 3 minute break you could do an exercise - front Squats during one break, push ups to failure during the next, the plank to failure during the next - it really could be that simple!


You do not become super fit overnight but with small, positive changes to your lifestyle you could become quite fit with relatively little time. If you already have a good fitness level, HIIT could be just what you need if you have had a stressful day and need some well deserved endorphins!

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