High intensity interval training: Here’s how to do it the right way. |

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an effective way to burn fat and get in shape, but many people don’t know how to do it. The main issue is that some people (including me) don’t know how to stop their bodies from burning out. To read more about HIIT and low intensity cardio, listen to this episode of the podcast.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is a form of exercise that uses short bursts of intense activity followed by short periods of rest or light activity. HIIT routines are a great way to get in shape, lose weight, or increase your fitness level, but not everyone is aware of the right way to do it.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and improve fitness. But it takes work—and a lot of it. HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of intense exercise followed by short periods of rest. They boost metabolism, improve endurance and prevent muscle breakdown.

With these high-intensity training sessions, you’ll learn how to become in great shape.

The exercise of the world champion

Last week, I spent a few days with Georges St-Pierre, the UFC World Welterweight Champion, and his top-notch coaching staff of Firas Zahabi, Jon Chaimberg, and Phil Nurse.

While some may argue that I was fortunate enough to witness a sparring and conditioning session, my lungs may disagree.

Jon, GSP’s strength coach, led a bunch of us through a particularly challenging session one afternoon.

Try this one on for size if you believe you’re pushing your intervals hard.


The circuit is made up of

Finish with the following cycle of exercises after a strength training session:

  • 20 squats in the air
  • Each leg does 20 lunges.
  • 20 squat jumps
  • Each leg performs 20 split leaps.
  • 6 reps of burpees

It’s important to note that you’ll complete this circuit without stopping. Take around 2 minutes to recover at the end. It will not suffice. But that’s all you’re going to get. Then repeat the process a second time.

The sprints are a must.

Head to the treadmill if you’re out of breath. Set the treadmill to a 15 percent inclination and a speed of 6.0 mph to 7.0 mph, depending on your fitness level.

  • 20 seconds of sprinting…then… 10 seconds of rest

Note that you’ll get off the treadmill for a recovery interval before returning for the next sprint. Repeat for a total of eight times for a total of four minutes of workout.

The cab

Cry, do everything you can not to puke, call out for your mommy, get a cab, and have someone take you home at the end of your sprints.

You’ve completed the task. And you’ll be able to tell.

Mike Boyle’s message

Surprisingly, the day after Chaimberg gave me an excellent instruction in interval training, I received the following message from Mike Boyle, another world-class strength coach. (Wow, I’m connected, aren’t I?)

Interval training was the focus of Mike’s note. I think the cosmos is reaching out to me because I haven’t done intervals in a long. And here I was, thinking I was in decent shape. Now, due to Jon and Mike, I’m aware that there’s still some work to be done.

Take a look at what Mike has to say.

Every fat loss publication we read, I believe, touts the benefits of interval training for fat loss. In fact, the phrase HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is used so frequently that many people feel they understand what it means.

However, very few of the articles I’ve seen recommending HIIT provide any practical instructions about what to do or how to execute it.

I must admit that I came into this subject rather by accident. Two processes coincided to make me realize that I might be a fat loss specialist without even realizing it.

I read both Alwyn Cosgrove’s Afterburn and Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training as part of my typical professional reading routine. What struck me right away was how similar the fat-loss methods these specialists recommended appeared to the conditioning ones we employed.

I was also training members of the US Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team at the time I was reviewing these plans. All of the female athletes I dealt with seemed to be attempting to employ steady state cardio as a means of weight loss or maintenance.

I was adamantly opposed to this concept, believing that steady-state cardio would detract from the strength and power exercises we were performing in the gym. If you wanted to perform more work, my policy became “intervals only.”

This was not a fat-loss technique for me, but rather a “slowness prevention” one. But then something unexpected happened. Female athletes who were not allowed to conduct steady-state cardiovascular exercises became noticeably slimmer.

I didn’t recognize what I was doing until I read the above-mentioned guides and learned that I was doing exactly what the fat reduction specialists advised. We were on a high-intensity strength-training program with a lot of intervals.

With that in mind, the focus of this post will be on how rather than why, as we’ve all heard the why before.

How do I go about doing HIIT?

To begin, we must first comprehend what interval training is. Interval training is, at its most basic level, a form of exercise that involves alternating periods of activity and relaxation.

The most difficult aspect of interval training may be learning how to use it. What percentage of my time do I spend working? How difficult should I make it? I’m not sure how long I should wait before doing it again.

Interval training has existed for many years. However, fitness aficionados all around the world have only recently become aware of its importance.

Interval training has even been given a new term in the literature due to its increasing popularity. Interval training, often known as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), is the latest craze in the fat reduction and conditioning professions.

You can, in fact, undertake low-intensity interval exercise. In fact, most people should begin with LIIT rather than HIIT. If you don’t put in the effort, HIIT may make you puke.

Background information on the study

Let’s briefly examine some study in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade. A recent study at McMaster University in Canada, dubbed the Gibala Study after main researcher Martin Gibala, compared 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with 90 to 120 minutes in the target heart rate zone.

The end product was fantastic. Both treatments resulted in the same increase in oxygen utilization in the subjects. What’s more incredible is that the 20-minute program only takes two minutes and 30 seconds to complete.

A second study, dubbed the Tabata study, demonstrates the tremendous effects of interval training once more. Tabata compared moderate-intensity endurance training at around 70% of maximum oxygen consumption to high-intensity intervals at 170 percent of maximum oxygen consumption.

Tabata used a one-of-a-kind protocol that consisted of seven to eight bouts of 20 seconds labor and 10 seconds rest. This was essentially a succession of 20-second intervals spread out across a four-minute period.

Again, the outcomes were nothing short of spectacular. The 20/10 protocol outperformed the steady state program in terms of VO2 max and anaerobic capacities.

The ACSM Journal’s September/October 2006 edition has more evidence showing the superiority of higher intensity training. “Running burns twice as many calories as walking,” according to Dr. David Swain.

This is fantastic news for people who desire to lose weight. I’m not a fan of running, but we can put another high-intensity (running) vs. low-intensity (walking) dispute to rest.

Make the calculations. According to Swain, a 136-pound individual walking for one mile will burn 50 calories, with the amount of calories burned increasing proportionally as the subject’s weight increases. In other words, a 163-pound person would weigh 20% more and burn 20% more calories as a result.

This translates to a 20 percent increase in calorie expenditure from 50 to 60. Swain continues, “Running at seven miles per hour burns twice as many calories as walking at four miles per hour.”

A runner would burn 100 calories in around eight and a half minutes, or about 11 calories per minute. A four-mile-per-hour walker would burn 50 calories in 15 minutes (the time it would take to walk a mile at four MPH). That equates to fewer than four calories burned every minute of exercise.

Please keep in mind that this is more of a testament to high-intensity work than low-intensity labor than it is to running. More intensity means more calories burned per minute.

Methods of interval training

Interval training can be done in two different ways.

The first is the tried-and-true Work-to-Rest strategy. This is the tried-and-true strategy that the majority of people are aware of. The Work to Rest approach employs a fixed time interval for the work phase and a fixed time interval for the rest period in the Work to Rest method. The athlete or customer is given a ratio and then rests for one, two, or three times the length of the work interval before repeating the next bout.

The main disadvantage of the Work to Rest approach is that it is based on random time. We have no notion what is going on inside the human body. We only make educated guesses. For many years, we’ve had to estimate because we didn’t have any other “measuring stick.”

Method based on heart rate

We no longer have to guess with the mass production of low-cost heart rate monitors. Interval training’s future lies in precise, low-cost heart rate monitors.

We no longer use time as a measure of recovery, as we did in the past with our rest-to-work ratios. We’ve moved on to physiology.

It’s crucial to realize that heart rate and intensity are inextricably linked. Although heart rate is not a perfect indicator of intensity or recovery, it is considerably superior to just selecting a time period to rest.

Simply choose an acceptable recovery heart rate to apply the heart rate approach. We use 60% of the theoretical maximum heart rate in our scenario. The recovery is simply calculated by the time it takes to return to the recovery heart rate after a work interval of a particular time or distance has been finished.

The entire picture alters when HR response is used. In well-conditioned athletes and clients, early recuperation is frequently faster and shorter than anticipated. In fact, in the first few intervals, rest to work ratios may be less than 1-1.

Below is an example of a sample workout for a well-conditioned athlete or customer utilizing the heartrate approach.

  • Interval 1: Work for 60 seconds, then rest for 45 seconds.
  • Interval 2 – Work for 60 seconds and then rest for 60 seconds
  • Interval 3 – Work for 60 seconds, then rest for 75 seconds.
  • Interval 4 – Work for 60 seconds, then rest for 90 seconds.

*In a traditional 2-1, time-based program, the rest period for the first three intervals would have been too long, making them possibly less effective.

In a deconditioned athlete or customer, the opposite may be true. I’ve seen young, deconditioned athletes require rest intervals that are up to eight times longer than the work interval. In fact, after a 15-second gap, some athletes require two minutes of recuperation.

The rest durations in the heartrate technique increase longer over time. The first interval is between 1-.75 while the last interval is between 1 and 1.5.

The difficulty with formulas

At least 70% of the population does not fit into our outdated theoretical models. The 220 minus age method has two major flaws: it doesn’t apply to a large section of the population and it isn’t based on research.

Even the creator of the now-famous formula admits that his words were misinterpreted. The Heart Rate Reserve Method, often known as the Karvonen formula, is a more accurate method.

Formula Karvonen

RHR= THR Ex- (200-60) x.8 +60 = 172 (Max HR- Resting HR) x percent + RHR= THR Ex- (200-60) x.8 +60 = 172

The Karvonen formula is less arbitrary because it takes into account bigger indicators of fitness by include the resting heart rate. For determining recovery hearrates, however, the two-twenty-minus-age method will sufficient.

The fundamentals of interval training

The rest period as a proportion of the interval gets shorter as the interval gets longer. In other words, when viewed as a proportion of the interval, short intervals have a high muscle demand and will require lengthier pauses. A 2-1 rest to work ration is required for fifteen second intervals. For beginners, a three-to-one ratio is preferable.

Rest intervals are suggested (Work to Rest based)

15 seconds Beginners should set aside at least 45 seconds (3-1), while more advanced players should set aside 30 seconds (2-1). Rest from 1:00 to 1:30 (3-1 or 2-1) Rest from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (2-1 or 1-1)

Just keep in mind that as the intervals go longer, the interval recovery time may not need to be as long. In other words, a fifteen-second sprint may necessitate a 30-45-second rest period, whereas a two-minute interval may simply necessitate a two-minute rest period.

Intervals of aerobic activity?

The most significant advantage of interval training is that you may receive a fantastic aerobic workout without the boredom of protracted steady-state workouts. In fact, as the Gibala study indicated, including interval training into your workout can help you achieve better results in terms of fitness and fat loss.

The entire session is both aerobic and anaerobic if the heart rate is maintained above the theoretical 60 percent threshold established for aerobic exercise. This is why my athletes hardly ever engage in “traditional” aerobic training.

All of our aerobic training is a result of our anaerobic training. My athletes or clients can maintain a heart rate in the acceptable aerobic range for 15 to 20 minutes, but they barely put in three to five minutes of meaningful activity in certain circumstances.

Interval training modes

The stationary bike is our favourite technique of interval training, despite the fact that most people think of interval training as a track and field idea.

Despite my belief that running is the theoretically “optimal” way of training, the facts are unmistakable. The majority of Americans are not physically fit enough to run. In fact, studies show that 60% of people who start a running program will become hurt.

That is completely unacceptable in a fitness or personal training setting. Females are at an even higher risk due to the genetics of the female body (wider hips, narrower knees).

In her comments, physical therapist Diane Lee says it best: “You can’t run to get healthy.” To run, you must be physically fit.”

Any piece of equipment can be used for interval training. However, a dual-action bike like the Schwinn AirDyne, in my opinion, is the most practical option.

According to Alwyn Cosgrove, a performance enhancement expert, the bike provides for “maximum metabolic disturbance with minimal muscular disruption.” In other words, you can work out on a stationary bike and not damage yourself.

Fit people can choose any mode they like. The bike, on the other hand, is the greatest and safest option. The elliptical trainers, in my opinion, are the worst option.

Another well-known training specialist, Charles Staley, has a concept he calls the 180 Principle, which I believe he coined. Staley recommends doing the polar opposite of what everyone else in the gym is doing. I agree with you.

The two most common types of training in a gym appear to be walking on a treadmill and using an elliptical trainer. My conclusion, which is backed up by Staley’s 180 Principle, is that neither is particularly useful.

In-depth look of interval training modalities


  • The most effective strategy, but also the one most likely to result in harm.
  • Shuttle runs have a strong muscular effort (acceleration and deceleration) as well as a high metabolic requirement (running to a line and back).
  • Running is a subjective term. A 30 second straight run is substantially easier than a 30 second shuttle.
  • Because of the repetitive acceleration and deceleration, shuttle runs cause more muscular soreness.
  • Running is impossible for the ordinary gym-goer because it necessitates a fairly wide area.

Running on a treadmill

  • In terms of effectiveness and, sadly, injury potential, it’s a close second to ground-based running.
  • Getting on and off a moving treadmill is an athletic skill that can be dangerous if done incorrectly. As a result, treadmill interval running is unlikely to be appropriate for the typical personal training client.
  • The speed of a treadmill might be misleading. For example, a speed of 10 miles per hour is only six minutes each mile, yet it feels incredibly quick. For a well-conditioned athlete, though, 10 MPH is not a challenging speed for intervals.
  • Interval treadmills of good quality should have a top speed of 15 miles per hour.
  • To begin treadmill running, practice getting on and off a moving treadmill (the author bears no responsibility for those who are flung to the ground while attempting this). Do not do this in a typical gym where the treadmills are crammed in like sardines. You must have enough space to fall down without colliding with something immovable).

Other disadvantages of using a treadmill

  • The hamstrings may be under-trained due to a lack of actual dynamic hip extension.
  • The belt moves when you run on a treadmill, yet you stay airborne. Running times on the treadmill do not convert well to running on the ground. It’s possible that this is due to a lack of ground contact time.

Advice on the treadmill

  • Based on the passage of time. At 7 MPH and a 5% inclination, try 15 seconds on and 45 seconds off. Reduce the speed and raise the gradient for further safety.
  • based on heart rate ( max HR of 200 used for example). Simply relax until your heartrate returns to 120 beats per minute after a 15-second run at 7/5. Rest is rest; if you walk or exercise, your heart rate will steadily decrease.

Bike that remains stationary

  • The HR is higher on dual action bikes like the Airdyne. This is due to the arms and legs working together. The AirDyne is the most cost-effective choice available. They are the ideal interval tool because they do not require any belt or knob adjustments while interval training, despite the fact that they do require periodic maintenance. The fan is a flexible resistance device. This means that the harder you push, the greater the resistance you will encounter. Purchase and install windscreens if you have large fan AirDynes (insert photo and link). The huge fan AirDynes are disliked by most sportsmen and clients since they are unable to build up a sweat without a windscreen.
  • This is, without a doubt, the best “safe” tool.
  • Requires a certain level of skill.
  • There is a low risk of overuse damage.

Bike suggestions for stationary use

  • Time suggestions are the same as for the treadmill. Set the top display on the AirDyne to Level. A 15-second sprint should be level 12-15 for a well-conditioned athlete. Do not push yourself too hard, as this will severely limit your capacity to repeat more periods. Female competitors in good shape will be at Level 8-10 for 15 seconds. Levels should be adjusted up or down depending on fitness level and body size. The bike will be easier for larger athletes or clientele. AirDynes with large fans (older versions) will have slightly different work levels than smaller fan AirDynes ( insert photo and link).


  • After the AirDyne, slideboards offer the best “bang for the buck.” However, there is a skill requirement in a fitness scenario. Clients must be told that they may trip and fall, potentially injuring themselves. This may seem obvious, but make sure to tell the client that the board is slick. I can’t tell you how many clients have said to me after stepping on a slideboard, “This is slippery.” Remember the old adage about not making assumptions.
  • The added benefits of a standing position and hip ab and adductor work are provided by the slideboard.
  • Groups can also benefit from slideboards. Extra booties are all that is required; no adjustments are required. For each board, we order four pairs.
  • Despite “experts,” it’s safe. Some so-called specialists have questioned the impact of the slideboard on the knees, however this hypothesis is based solely on anecdotal information from a few writers.

Ellipticals and Climbers

  • The key to climbing with any gear is to keep your hands and arms off of it. This is quite important. Simply put on a heartrate monitor and keep your hands off to observe your heart rate rise. If a client complains about a lack of balance, slow the machine down and work on it, but don’t let them hold on.
  • The StepMill is the least popular, but it is also the most effective, as Staley demonstrates out. Consider it from a different perspective. It’s probably not excellent if it’s popular.
  • The StepMill is more difficult to abuse than traditional stairclimbers. Many people increase the speed while letting their arms perform most of the work. Keep your hands off the rails, as previously stated.
  • Because it is the most convenient, the elliptical machine is the most popular. This is simply the result of human nature at action. Make it difficult for your clients to use an elliptical trainer. Allow them to do it on their off days if they insist.

Interval exercise may enhance fitness more effectively than steady-state activities, according to new research. The key now is not so much what to do as it is how to accomplish it. Get a hearrate monitor and begin to work for maximum effect.

One word of caution. Deconditioned customers may require three to a month of consistent work to prepare for intervals. This is fine.

Interval training should not be used to kill a beginner. Begin with a solid strength training regimen and some steady-state cardio. In my opinion, the only good application for steady state work is to prepare an athlete or client for the upcoming intervals.

Better eating, moving, and living.



It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle strategies that are specific to you.




To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

  1. Human Skeletal Muscle Aging Is Reversed by Resistance Exercise.” Alan Hubbard, Simon Melov, Mark Tarnopolsky, Kenneth Beckman, Krysta Felkey, Simon Melov, Mark Tarnopolsky, Kenneth Beckman, Kenneth Beckman, Kenneth Beckman, Kenneth Beckman, Kenneth doi:10.1371/journal.pone.00465. PLoS ONE 2(5): e465.
  2. “Short-Term Sprint Interval Versus Traditional Endurance Training: Similar Initial Adaptations in Human Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Performance,” Journal of Physiology, September 2006, Vol 575, Issue 3.
  3. Effects of high-intensity intermittent training and moderate-intensity endurance training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. I. Tabata, K. Nishimura, M. Kouzaki, Y. Hirai, F. Ogita, M. Miyachi, and K. Yamamoto. National Institute of Fitness and Sports, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, Department of Physiology and Biomechanics
  4. ACSM Health and Fitness Journal, September/October. David Swain, M.D. What Should We Prescribe: Moderate or Vigorous Intensity Exercise?

It seems like most people use high intensity interval training to just get through their workouts. They reach that state of fatigue, where they’re too tired and sore to really push themselves. They let their pace slow down, so they can rest or grab a drink or something to eat. What happens then? They burn fewer calories, and the workout doesn’t help them lose weight.. Read more about high intensity interval training workouts and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the correct way to do HIIT?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It is a type of exercise that alternates between periods of short, intense anaerobic work and less intense recovery periods.

How do I know if I am doing HIIT correctly?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It is a training method that alternates between periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods.

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  • how to structure a hiit workout
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About Vaibhav Sharda

Vaibhav Sharda

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