High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

One of the hottest things in fitness right now is HIIT or high intensity interval training. Basically, this means exercising in short bursts of intense exercise (usually somewhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes) with a similar amount of rest. These types of work-outs are usually shorter in duration than a typical workout, lasting for a total of 15 to 30 minutes.

Who Does This Training?

Typically, interval training has been exclusively performed by athletes. Runners, basketball players, and soccer players used these workouts to improve their endurance and speed, and used interval training to enhance performance in competition. For a long time, it was thought that the average person didn’t need to engage in anything so strenuous because moderate activity elicits plenty of benefits. However, HIIT has begun to hit the mainstream and people are starting to talk.

The most popular HIIT workout on the market is Insanity. It is an at-home video program which requires no equipment. You just use your body weight and engage in jumping, kick-boxing, and plyometrics in intense intervals with little rest.

Does it Work?

Interesting question. So far, the evidence says that yes, this type of workout can be very effective in aiding in weight loss and can actually give you some of the same heart benefits as moderate exercise. The New York Times has a nice article this morning about a study done at McMaster University investigating the effects of interval training on cardiac patients. The training was done in 1 minute intervals on a cycle  at 90% of the patients heart rate max and they were given 1 minute to rest after each interval. They worked out for 20 miuntes per day, several times per week. Amazingly, the HIIT patients had similar, if not better improvements in cardiac function and vascular following the workout. There is also some research suggesting that HIIT is effective in reducing insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients as well. However, there is one thing I do want to ask you before you decide to start HIIT.

Are you actually going to do it?

Almost any form of exercise is beneficial, but it will only improve your life if you actually do it! HIIT is intense, especially if you get a commercial program like Insanity. After a long hard day, are you more likely to take a walk around the block, or work out at your heart rate max? The most important thing for your health is actually exercising, so if you find HIIT enjoyable, awesome! Get started! But, if not, there are other ways to improve your health and your heart.

Have you ever tried Insanity? How long did you stick with it?


5 responses to this post.

  1. have you checked out bodyrock.tv? the site has some amazing HIIT workouts x


  2. Posted by Wade on February 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I love HIIT! I haven’t tried Insanity yet, but I just might in the future. I’ll keep you posted!


  3. I really, really recently just started interval training because I’ve heard about it before, but I recently read a NYTimes article about it that made me actually want to do it. It’s really good, so far! I like the fact that you can burn just as many calories and ‘feel the burn’ but do it in half the time.

    I think you bring up an awesome point… whether or not someone who, after a long day at work, is actually going to go to the gym (or home) and do this. Considering I don’t have a ‘real person’ job (I’m in school), I can’t say for certain that I would keep this up once I do have a job. Depending on how long it takes to get from work to home in rush-hour traffic, this might be really hard.

    On the other hand, I think it might be doable simply because it IS your same work out but in half the time. I think that is something that would make me see it through, because instead of staying at the gym for an hour, I could stay for maybe half or 40 minutes, and still have time for dinner/friends/chilling at home.

    Great post, and thanks for sharing about Insanity! I had never heard of it, but now I want to try it!


    • I love doing this type of training, but I ran in college and I’m pretty used to it. I taught my mom how to do it and she loves it, but my sister who’s never exercised can’t stand the idea of running so hard! If it works for you, then awesome! Let me know how Insanity goes!
      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. Posted by Susie Phadke on April 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Sara! Just found your blog, and I would love to read more. I just finished the full circuit of Insanity, and loved it! I did it with my roommates, though, and I had a sticker-tracker + peer pressure to keep me motivated. I’ve jumped back into half-marathon training, and felt like I was able to enter at 90 minute long run with no problem, racing at the same fitness level I was at before I started Insanity. (Before Insanity, I had been racing half-marathons about every month, and during Insanity, I did about 1 run a week, usually a 60+ run on the weekends.) Although I didn’t lose a ton of weight, I definitely lost inches, and I felt MUCH stronger. I teach and often squat at students’ desks, and after Insanity, my knees felt no pain from standing up or squatting.


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