Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HIIT + Tabata: The Basics of Interval Training

HIIT and Tabata. When I first asked a friend what this made her think of this was her response:
She was frantically scrambling her mind, trying to find a solution. The craving, the urge was almost overwhelming... all consuming. Tabata had never felt so on edge. Glancing around she tried to take it all in, wondering where her feet had taken her while her mind was otherwise occupied. Where would it come from? When? And from whom? The next hit would take her out. She'd never survive.
When I first read that I was shocked because [1] I did not know she was this creative! and [2] although I'm not sure what she thought HIIT and Tabata are, she kind of got it right without knowing it.

HIIT and Tabata are two of the most popular forms of interval training. Pretty much that means that you work for a predetermined amount of time and rest for a predetermined amount of time (usually rest period is shorter than working period).

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. This method is pretty simple whereas you work for longer than you rest for but it's up to you how long the work/rest periods are. A common ratio is 50s of work and 10s of rest.

Tabata was originally designed for figure skaters by Professor Izumi Tabata. Pretty much, you work as hard as you can with good form for 20s and then rest for 10s and repeat for a total of 8 rounds/4 minutes.

The great thing about interval training is that it is a very effective way of getting your heart rate up, pushing your body physically and the work out will be a lot quicker than the average workout. Some studies have even shown that switching from steady state training to interval training increases resting metabolic rate (ie. improves fat burning) and lowers insulin resistance.

So, now that you really, really want to try out interval training, what are your next steps? I recommend trying Tabata first. It's fast and very simple. There are lots of apps out there for interval timers but if you're working out at home there is a free, handy Tabata timer available online here. Once you have your timer ready, pick an exercise. You can sprint/run, do jumping jacks, burpees or big resistance movements like squats, lunges or pushups. Make sure to use proper form for whatever exercise you're doing and you're good to go!

My at-home work outs are usually done Tabata style and over the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the routines with you to help give you ideas for your own workouts.

If you've done some type of interval training in the past what did you think? And if you go try it out on your next workout make sure to come back and leave me a comment with your thoughts on it!

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