Written by Andi Martin-Wagner | Photography by Paul Buceta
Want better results from your interval training? Here’s how to up your game.
Long sessions of steady state cardio are about as outdated as thigh masters. By now, you’ve probably discovered that if you want serious fat burning, high intensity interval training is where it’s at. But just because you’re working up a sweat during those sprints, doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of them.
The purpose of HIIT is to push your body into the anaerobic zone by working as hard as you can for short bursts of time, followed by quick bouts of rest. But unless you’re really getting out of your zone during the “all out” phases, you’re not getting the full benefits of this training style. In short, you should be working so hard that you desperately need every second of those heavenly rest periods. With so much effort being put forth, your HIIT workout can probably only last for 20 minutes or so, not including your warm up and oh-so-crucial cool down. If that has you second guessing your last HIIT workout, keep reading for more tips to make the next one your best ever.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
Monitoring your heart rate while you train is one of the most effective ways to guarantee you are working at the appropriate level. Regular cardiovascular training should be done in a range of 65-85% of your maximum heart rate. HIIT cardio should include intervals where you jump up into the 90% range for short periods of time, but then recover to around 65-70% before you start your next interval.
Look for the Signs
Take these cues from your body to know if you are working hard enough:
- You are unable to carry a conversation during work intervals.
- You are breathing hard and your pulse is racing.
- Your working muscles feel very fatigued.
- You are sore the next day. Not injured, but as if you had a good workout.
The rest intervals within a HIIT workout can be varied. Consider using a 1:1 ratio as a starting point for all out intervals. This means if you sprint for 1 minute, recover for 1 minute. Once your fitness improves, shoot for a 2:1 ratio (1 minute sprint/30 second recovery). You will notice as your fitness level improves, your heart rate will recover faster.
Lastly, HIIT workouts are very taxing on the body and therefore should be performed a maximum of three to four times per week. Be sure to incorporate lower intensity and rest days into your program to ensure full recovery, so you can hit your next session hard.