High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great way to burn a lot of calories and increase your metabolic rate in a short amount of time. Let's breakdown this buzzword and see what it's all about.

The origins of HIIT training date back to 1912. Since then, the best Olympic runners have utilized HIIT workouts in their training routines. The grandfathers of HIIT training, Saltin and Astrand wrote their first publication in 1959, and all of the HIIT and interval techniques since then has borrowed from their original research.

What is HIIT?

HIIT usually involves short bursts of high intensity interval training, working at intensities of up to 100% of maximal capacity, alternated with lower intensity intervals or a complete stop. Saltin and Astrand introduced HIIT workouts using a 30 minute interval workout routine, alternating sets of 15 seconds on, with 15 seconds off (“on” was at 100% effort). Most common protocols are 1:1/1:2/1:3 work-to-rest ratios. A simple example would be to sprint on a treadmill at your maximum effort for 30 seconds and walk at an easy pace for 30 seconds/60 seconds/90 seconds.  

How to HIIT:

 Shown on this page (In the column on the right hand side) are are 6 HIIT exercises you can do at home without equipment – anything that will skyrocket your heart rate for short intervals.

6 Benefits of HIIT:

  1. Do (HI)IT anywhere.
    HIIT is one of the most popular methods of training in the fitness industry. It can be done anywhere using your own bodyweight or as part of your fitness routine.

  2. Burn that fat.
    During the HIIT you burn more fat than during your average steady state cardio session.  HIIT allows you to turn on certain metabolic processes that will tap right into the fat cells and use them to fuel your workout. Also HIIT is one of the best ways to increase your cardiovascular capacity if you are preparing for a fitness challenge or training for a sport, or if you just want to keep your heart healthy.
  3. Efficient
    In 30min or less you can perform your HIIT workout which will leave you burning calories for hours after - if done right. It’s the ideal training for a busy schedule. 
  4. Keeps your heart healthy.
    There is a common misconception amongst the general public that high intensity training is for athletes and super-fit gym-goers. Did you know that they even use HIIT in cardiac rehab centres and a number of studies have shown tremendous benefits. For example, Bartels, Bourne & Dwyer (2010) summarized that improving cardiovascular function and increasing VO2max are major goals of patients with cardiovascular disease, which is why some cardiac rehabilitation centres are beginning to include interval training for heart disease patients (always follow your Doctors' advice).  
  5. Keeps you Toned and Young! 
    HIIT elevates your HGH (human growth hormone) up to 10 times in the initial phase on the workout which helps to keep and build lean muscle mass, which in return keeps your metabolism high. This means you’ll burn more calories going about your daily activities. HGH also slows down the aging process and keeps you younger. 
  6. Challenging
    HIIT has been gaining a lot of popularity in the last few years due to its time efficiency and fat burning effectiveness compared to steady state cardio (SSC). However there is definitely a place for SSC and lower intensity intervals. If you are a beginner you can use SSC to build your cardiovascular endurance and progress with some lower intensity interval to get a hang of it. When you build your aerobic system it will have a direct affect on the recovery rate during your HIIT. 

All of these wonderful benefits are your body’s way of adapting to the imposed demands, and if you do it right, you will adapt quickly, become leaner, and increase your fitness level.  HIIT will definitely keep your metabolism on its toes, and the trick is to constantly challenge your body by increasing the overall intensity of you workout  i.e. doing more reps in the same amount of time, increasing the number of"effort" intervals.   Don’t be stuck doing the same old routine, adaptation is the enemy.

Spice it up with HIIT and see your body transform.

Just be sure you follow these guidelines:

Form and safety!  

When pushing past your limit it’s easy to overlook your form. Your form is super key to an effective and safe workout. By properly performing an exercise, not only will you be able to recruit the right muscles, but you’ll also minimize the risk of injury. So don’t get sloppy, especially when getting tired. If you’re a beginner, stick to easier exercises and perfect your form before increasing your intensity. If you’re not sure whether you have the right form you can always hire a personal trainer. You will save a lot of time and potential injuries.


To rip all of the wonderful benefits, like burning extra calories and improving your cardiovascular performance, you’ll need to go all out! You want to push hard and build lots of lactic acid, that’s when you feel your muscles burning. This way not only will you burn more fat during your training session, it will also allow you to burn calories long after your workout is finished, sometimes up to 36 hours post workout! Keep in mind that your high intensity is relative to your present level of fitness. For some people power walking on slight incline can be enough to get them huffing and puffing. Make sure you listen to your body. Being out of breath is usually a good sign that you are hitting the right intensity.

Rest and Recovery! 

Your rest should be equivalent to your intensity. A general rule of thumb is the higher the intensity the longer is the rest.  Make sure you have enough rest to go all out; not giving yourself enough rest and not pushing it to your limits afterwards defeats the whole purpose of HIIT. (It is called High Intensity for a reason!). When training like this, your body will need properly recovery. For example you might train every second day, or two days on, one day off.  On your days off, make sure to refuel with nutrient dense foods and get the right amount of sleep. Otherwise your energy and the intensity of your workout will be impaired.