Get more results in less time: High-intensity interval training

October 13, 2013 

Most people’s primary motivation for working out involves weight loss. The original school of thought for optimal results was performing a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at a moderate intensity three to five times a week in conjunction with resistance training two to three times per week. But in today’s world, most of us simply don’t have that much time to commit to the gym. The good news is we may not have to.

A multitude of recent research studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has the potential to be just as effective for burning fat, increasing strength and improving cardiovascular endurance.

Researchers from the city of Eugene’s FitCity Wellness Center completed a 10-week study. Twenty-one people participated in HIIT three times per week with workouts finishing in just under 30 minutes. The results? Participants showed reductions in body weight, body fat percentage and circumference measurements. Another study published in The European Applied Journal of Physiology showed metabolism to be in an elevated state for up to 16 hours following intense exercise. And from a fitness perspective, the Journal of Applied Physiology did a study measuring the cardiovascular response of a high-intensity program and found endurance actually doubled in the high intensity group.

Now this isn’t at all to suggest we should completely eliminate longer workouts, especially if your goals are endurance-based. However, considering how precious time is in today’s society, isn’t it wise to incorporate short, intense workouts into the mix? So the question is, how does it work?

In a nutshell, HIIT workouts typically involve total body strength and conditioning exercises performed in a quick, all-out intensity for 20 seconds all followed by a 10-second recovery. This cycle is repeated for a total of four minutes, and HIIT workouts usually last between 20 and 25 minutes (5-6 cycles), not including the warm-up or cool-down. The goal is to work as quickly as possible but without compromising form.

And on that note, because of the intense nature and speed of the workout, it’s recommended to incorporate only exercises that primarily use body weight, resistance tubing or a medicine ball (5-10 percent of body weight). This will ensure better form and minimize the risk of injury. HIIT workouts should be self-paced and adjusted to your fitness level. If you are just starting an exercise program, I recommend at least 12 weeks of aerobic base conditioning, muscular endurance training and mastering the exercise technique before adding HIIT to your routine.

Now that you’re ready, try this challenging circuit that is guaranteed to get your heart pumping and your muscles burning for more!

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 15 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

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