Over the last decade, interval training has been believed to be the best workout for most people. As the go-to fitness routine, interval training improves strength and endurance over moderate-intensity steady-state cardiovascular exercise. Study after study has shown that interval training, particularly high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the gold standard for rapid results in speed, strength and endurance, be it from running, cycling, weight training or using cardio machines at your gym.
High intensity interval training is defined as alternating between high and low intensity exercises or between high intensity exercise and a short period of rest. Try running up a flight of stairs and walking back down. That’s HIIT.
High-intensity interval training is all the rage for total body fitness. Think home workout videos like Insanity, CrossFit and other boot camp-style classes. People have seen amazing results from this approach and by the way, this approach is not just for advanced fitness. Just getting started? This may be the best approach to try.
Physiologically, this workout approach makes sense because it’s impossible to sustain maximal intensities during exercise for a long period of time, simply because of how our bodies use fuel. Oxygen is really the molecule that makes the magic. The supply and demand of it in and out of the body is what determines how much maximal intensity you will achieve and for how long. Your body cannot get oxygen where it needs to go fast enough. Think this is inefficient? Well, that’s why HIIT is the ticket. The flow of how oxygen enters and exits the body allows for us to produce short bursts of speed or high energy.
There’s a simple method to try HIIT for just 20-30 minutes. The format is simple, designed and tested by researchers from the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. Enter”10-20-30”, an interval-training concept which resulted in remarkable advances in fitness.
The researchers used 18 moderately-trained runners for a seven-week program of 10-20-30 training and found that they were able to improve performance on a 1,500-meter run by 23 seconds and almost by a minute on a 5-km run—and this despite a 50 percent reduction in their typical amount of training time.
Studies that date back to 2007 show that even patients who’ve experienced heart failure achieved greater cardiovascular benefits from aerobic interval training.
So how do you do this 10-20-30 thing? Pick a cardio exercise where you can watch a timer. Warm up for a few minutes, then perform 10 seconds at a high-intensity effort. From there, follow up with 20 seconds at moderate-intensity effort, then go for another 30 seconds at an easy comfortable effort level. You’ll notice it takes one minute to complete each cycle. Work this pattern for 5 consecutive minutes and feel free to take a 2-minute recovery break between each 5-minute cycle. Try to complete 3-4 blocks of these 5-minute rounds. That’s all there is too it.
For anyone yearning for a simple workout approach but doesn’t know where to start, HIIT is for you. Try it.