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The Benefits of HIIT Workouts

HIIT workouts continue to gain popularity for their many benefits and relative ease to do at home with minimal equipment. One of the many draws to these workouts is that they are very time efficient, which makes it easier to fit into busy schedules. They help to increase resting metabolic rate which allows you to burn calories for longer after your work out is done. They also help to reduce body fat, decrease heart rate and blood pressure.

HIIT workouts improve cardiovascular fitness. These workouts align with the American Heart

Association standards to help improve cardiovascular health (150 minutes per week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise - or a combination of both). Which is important for everyone, but especially for women who are in post-menopause, when the risk of heart disease increases. Coincidentally, HIIT workouts have also been recommended as the best weight loss fitness plan for women after menopause.


So what is a HIIT workout or training?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It is short burst of intense exercise, with alternating low intensity recovery periods. The high intensity interval should be vigorous, to the point where you would have difficulties holding a conversation. The recover periods should be just that, an active form of movement that allows you to almost completely catch your breath for the next interval.


Each round can be the same exercise form, or you can change all of the exercises for every round. Your interval length with depend on your fitness and starting level. You can start with 30 seconds high intensity, with a 60 second recovery period. Repeating this 4-6 times, for a total of 2 sets as you are beginning. Then as you advance, you may choose to progress to 30 second intervals high/low or increase your repetitions to 8 times for up to 3-4 sets. This also may vary day to day based on how you feel and your other fitness activities (insert cycle synching here!).


To create your own HIIT workout for a beginner level, start by picking 4 high intensity exercises from the list below, and then 4 from the low intensity column. You can use the same 1-2 exercises for all repetitions if that feels more comfortable for you. Using the stop watch feature or timer on your phone (there are also a lot of timer apps out there – I use Seconds), start with the high intensity for 30 seconds. After that interval, immediately begin the low intensity exercise for 60 seconds. Continue alternating until you have completed your list. Rest for 2 minutes, and then repeat your previous list or choose new

exercises. Make sure that you keep the balance the same, 4 high intensity and 4 lower intensity exercises. Work up to 6-8 exercises, repeating up to 4 repetitions.

You can add weights (kettle bell swings, lunges with overhead press), increase jumping (broad jump with backwards shuffle, split squats) and even increase the length of high intensity intervals to make your workout harder as you feel more comfortable and your fitness level progresses.


High Intensity

Low Intensity

Jogging in place

Alternating step back lunge (focus on form)

Quick air squats

Slow controlled squat

Jumping Jacks

Bicep Curl (if no weights add over head arm raise)

High knees

Walking in place

Speed Skaters

Standing step out toe taps

Burpees (step back or full jumping depending on level)

High marching

Mountain Climbers

Wide stance, slow lateral squats


If you don’t feel comfortable starting with your own workout, you can start with jogging intervals or on a stationary bike. Always warm up first with walking at a quick speed if you choose that exercise form. You can maintain walking, adding a light jog for 15 seconds or if you are already jogging for fitness, switch between jogging and sprinting. After the high intensity interval (light jog or sprint) return to walking or jogging for 1-2 minutes. Repeat that pattern for 10 minutes initially, and then progress to up to 20 minutes as you feel comfortable. If you have access to a stationary bike, warm up at a slow to moderate speed first. When you are ready to add the intervals, pedal as hard and fast as possible for 30

seconds, and then slow to an easy pace for 2 minutes. Repeat this pattern for 15 minutes initially and then work up to 30 minutes.


Stay Safe!

Make sure that you pick an activity that you feel comfortable with. This can be walk/jog, biking or exercise movements (squat/lunge etc). If it is something that you like and feel confident with, it will help you to be more successful. Keep work periods under 30 seconds, especially when you are beginning. Longer high intensity periods are harder to sustain at the level require to count as a HIIT workout. Balance your high intensity with long enough rest breaks to be ready for the next interval or round. If you have joint point, consider starting in the water or on a stationary bike. Start slow, with just a few cycles a week and at least one full rest day to ensure that you do not flare up any pre-existing pain or create new injuries.

And have fun! Use the variations to make this a workout you enjoy!

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