Kick Off Your Year With This Simple (But Devastating) HIIT Workout
Walk into any gym right now and you will find a significant portion of classes dedicated to HIIT – or high intensity interval – training. Like capsule collections are to fashion, HIIT training is to fitness – it’s everywhere.
And for good reason. HIIT workouts are known to be a fast and highly effective means of training. Studies have shown that a 30-minute HIIT session can reap the same benefits as a 45-60-minute session performed at a lower intensity. As PT and GQ’s Monday Motivation expert Janis Blums explains, this added bang for your buck is increasingly popular for those of us leading a busy lifestyle, which in 2019, was more or less all of us.
However, this does not mean HIIT training is the best option every day of the week. In fact, Blums adds that too many of us fall into the trap of thinking ‘more is better’, ie the harder we work, the fitter and stronger we will become. While this is true to some extent, the key, instead, is working smarter not necessarily harder. For proof, we need look at professional athletes. How often do they train at the same intensity in which they will perform? Answer – rarely, as it’s simply not realistic or desirable to put your body through that amount of stress.
So today’s HIIT workout comes with an important disclaimer from Blums: if you don’t recover properly after your session you could be undoing all your hard work.
Because, notes Blums, “the true value of exercise comes from knowing exactly which training styles will relieve stress, which will increase stress and how will our body respond to both”. To help us understand the benefits of each training style, Blums offers the following commentary.
Recovery / stress-relieving training
"Training methods that are stress relieving and have an immediate positive impact upon our immune response are generally those that would be seen as ‘recovery’ in nature, ie slow jog, gentle swim, yoga or a brisk walk. Each of these will down regulate our nervous system and provide a parasympathetic recovery response, allowing the body to adapt and grow from any stress it has recently been exposed to.”
Resilience / stress-inducing training
"Other forms of training that require higher heart rates and more physical exertion start to become stressful rather than stress relieving, much like HIIT. They may leave us with a great sense of satisfaction and relief when it’s finally over but the increased heart rate, energy uptake and heightened sympathetic neural response will create fatigue and requires at least a day or two of recovery if we are to reap the positive adaptations from such a workout.
"Without sufficient recovery between these workouts, the body may get stuck in a state of chronic stress and this can lead to inflammation, pain, disease, decay and degradation within the body."
How often should I train HIIT?
Janis Blums: Given that HIIT requires us to reach 80-95 percent of our maximal heart rate, it is regarded as a highly stressful form of training and should only be programmed between 1-3 times per week depending on your overall fitness, sleep duration and quality and other daily stress factors. Use the days in between HIIT sessions to perform your foundational strength and recovery training instead and you will continue to see positive results and growth on all fronts.”
Are there any injury concerns to HIIT training?
Janis Blums: "HIIT is not a training method that should be introduced to the novice gym goer until they have reached a basic level of strength and conditioning. However, if you are new to training or have had some time off and want to give this a go then you may just go easy with it. HIIT requires near maximal effort within every interval of work and this can rapidly increase the acidity of the blood within a novice and this can make them feel rather nauseous and ill.
"Secondly, most movements within a HIIT workout are full body exercises that require good coordination, balance, strength, stability, mobility, flexibility and lactic tolerance so HIIT workouts are not a time for practicing your movement potential but rather testing them much like a race or match day in sports. So it’s vital that you have practiced all the components of the HIIT workout before attempting them within the workout."
Today’s workout overview
9 movements across 5 intervals. Run through each five intervals of one movement before moving on to the next movement. Intervals will be performed at the following work : rest interval.
The 40 seconds of rest will give you slightly more time to recover from the longer work interval as well as time to prepare for the start of the next exercise as soon as the 40 seconds is up. Remember it is vital that you ‘earn your rest’ in this workout. Push hard for the 20 or 40 seconds required and focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing in your rest intervals to aid recovery.
Janis's HIIT Workout
1 – Shuttle runs. Perform a shuttle run over 20m touching the baselines at either end each lap.
2 – Dumbbell thrusters. Perform a squat-to-press with a light to moderate pair of dumbbells.
3 – Face melter. Start in a plank position with your feet elevated on a box. While holding this position, bring one foot then the other to the floor and then return them to the box and repeat. It should feel like an elevated mountain climber.
4 – Ski-erg. Add a jump with each stroke to really get the heart rate up.
5 – Burpees. Make sure you can perform a squat and pushup effectively before performing burpees.
6 – TRX split leaps. Start in a lunge position and with each rep jump and switch legs from front to rear. This will get the lactate flowing so the last 40-second set will burn.
7 – Assault bike. Go your hardest and do your best to recover before the next set.
8 – Rope Gorilla Slams. Hold onto the rope in each hand and launch overhead before slamming it down to the floor and finishing in a low squat position.
9 – High knees. Sprint on the spot with knees high; be sure to use the arms to drive the legs.
See the condensed workout below:
Exercise Sets Time
Shuttle runs 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
Dumbbell thrusters 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
Face melter 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
Ski-erg 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
Burpees 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
TRX split leaps 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
Assault bike 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
Rope Gorilla Slams 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1
High knees 5 20:20 x 4, 40:40 x 1