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A Deeper Look At HIIT

With the world slowed down and more people building out home gyms. There is a chance they may come to find they have less time to workout. With less time this means the intensity of the workouts need to change.

High Intensity Interval Training may be just what these people need.

High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a tried and true style of working out. HIIT is a great way to improve your body's cardio respiratory system while blasting away body fat.

HIIT is usually but not always alternating bursts of hard fast exercise with a rest between sets.

It is also a great way to get in a lot of work in a little bit of time.

It is recommended that you get 150 minutes of physical activity a week.

When programming a HIIT workout keep in mind. It is recommended that you do HIIT for 45-60 minutes total of your week. That is less than half of your total recommended minutes of physical activity in a week.

This tells us that even though HIIT is good for you, too much can be a bad thing. Your body will eventually start to break down and you will not be able to recover like you should.

There are plenty of ways we can get in HIIT style training. Let’s take a look at what we can do for HIIT protocols.

Timed Sets:

This is the most common style of HIIT on the market. Most people will call them Tabata's (we will go over Tabata's later). Every gym uses this for group exercise classes and personal trainers use this style all the time. Timed sets are intervals of short bursts of work followed by a rest period. You can use this style to increase strength or boost your conditioning.

Timed sets for strength you will want to use a 1:3 to 1:5 work rest ratio. An example of this is sets of 15 seconds of work followed by 75 second or rest. You will want to use heavy weights.

Timed sets for conditioning will be sets that flip the ratio, a 3:1 or 1:1 is pretty typical. A timed set of 45 seconds of work with 15 seconds of rest is what you will see in most gyms. You will want to use light weights or bodyweight movements.

Density sessions:

Density sessions or what is now known as an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). This is a timed workout where you are trying to get as many rounds in as you can in a set amount of time. Typically you will try to set up a workout where you can get 5 rounds in roughly 20 minutes.

These workouts will be programmed as full body workouts trying to hit every muscle group and most of the movement patterns. You will want to keep the reps between 8-15 total reps for each movement. This is a rest as you need protocol.


These are the unknown killers of HIIT training. Complexes will leave you breathing heavy and with a great burn.

Complexes are done as a certain amount of sets for a certain amount of reps. You will also need to time yourself because the amount of time it takes to finish a set is, how long you will rest.

A complex is anywhere from 3-5 movements done one after another without pause. You will try to pick movements that will move into the next. An example is roman deadlift to row to squat thrusts to renegade row. You will not move to the movement until all reps of the current movement are completed.

Last thing and this is where people usually get confused. When you pick up the weight you will not change it out between exercises. When you start you will hold the same weights the entire set. Be sure to think before you pick up the weight, the weight you will need is the one that you can finish all reps with the weakest movement.


This is the most misused and misunderstood HIIT protocol out there. A lot of people think timed sets are Tabata's, they are not.

What is a true Tabata?

A Tabata is an 8 round 4 minute workout. It consists of 20 seconds all out work followed by 10 seconds of active recovery rest. It is only performed on a spin style bike.

Nothing more nothing less.

High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to get in an amazing workout in a short amount of time. From timed sets to complexes there are more than one way to get in your HIIT workout. HIIT is great, it is easy to over do it. With a well rounded strength program HIIT could be what takes your fitness over the top.

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