HIIT Training Variations

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) aims to improve athletic performance with short, intense training sessions. There are two famous methods that come from studies done on the subject. The first study was done in 1996 on the Tabata method. This is the topic of my previous post.

The second well known HIIT method is called the Little Method and is based on a study conducted in 2009. This method uses 60 seconds of intense exercise followed by 75 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated eight to twelve times. The Tabata method on the other hand uses 20 seconds of intense exercise with 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated eight times.

The benefits of HIIT training found through the two studies mentioned here are quite impressive. Aerobic and anaerobic performances are both improved. If you try out these methods you will certainly feel a difference even from your first session to your second session. By the fourth or fifth session you will be quite amazed at how much easier the training is (but it is still not easy!).

HIIT training requires you to work hard, so I recommend doing it with a partner to help push you. If you can’t do it with a partner, then you should measure your output somehow. For example, if you are doing sprints, try to make sure you are covering the same amount of ground for each repetition. I know this extremely tough, but it will ensure you are giving full effort even when you feel like you are going to die.

I have seen people get very creative with HIIT training. This has inspired me to try out some of their recommendations and come up with a few routines of my own. The reasoning for doing this is twofold. First, doing sprints on a stationary bike or running gets boring. Why not mix it up a bit. Second, if sprints on the ground and on a bike are great then other types of exercises are probably pretty good too (although I don’t know of any studies looking into this yet).

You can do HIIT training with any type of exercise you want. I should warn you that this type of training is for healthy and active people who have a good fitness base already. The training is severely intense. I am not joking. Think about how much it would hurt to run as fast as you can for twenty seconds, rest for ten seconds and then do it again seven more times! It is every bit as difficult as you think and a bit more. It is ok though. You feel awesome after completing it.

I have tried HIIT training with a combination of bodyweight exercises. I started by doing a routine of push-ups, air squats, burpees and pull-ups. I decided to do it Tabata style but knew I would need to extend the time to get the full benefit. I went for 50 seconds of exercise and 20 of rest. It was difficult, but it was good.

Another method is to set a number of repetitions to complete for each exercise. Let’s say you want to do 100 of each exercise. You will start with by doing as many, say, push-ups as possible. Once you can’t do anymore, switch to the next exercise, squats for instance. Do as many as you can and then switch again. The only tough part here is keeping track of what number you are on. Well…the exercise is tough too.

I have also gotten crazy using the TRX suspension trainer for HIIT training. The ability of the TRX to switch quickly between exercises makes it really great for doing HIIT. I do recommend making sure that your form is perfect for each exercise you will be doing on the TRX suspension trainer before actually doing a HIIT session. This will minimize your chance of injury.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Remember to warm up and cool down properly. Come up with your own HIIT routine and reap the benefits.