What are HIIT workouts and how do you do them?
Have you ever achieved a PB (personal best) doing AMRAP (as many reps as possible) then been hit with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the next day? The fitness world sure loves an acronym, but there’s one in particular we think you should get to know: HIIT.
What is HIIT training? HIIT stands for high-intensity impact training (which technically makes adding the word ‘training’ at the end unnecessary!) If you’re ready to put a rocket under your exercise routine and achieve your fitness goals, HIIT is the workout style you’ve been looking for. As a great believer in quality over quantity and maximum results in minimum time, Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi champions HIIT fitness in his workouts on Centr.
If you’re ready to find out how to do HIIT, read on!
What is HIIT?
HIIT provides exactly what the name suggests – exercise at a high intensity that combines work phases and rest (or active recovery) phases.
During the work phase, you train as hard as you can through the prescribed exercise. You then catch your breath and rest your muscles during the rest phase. Knowing that another rest phase is always just around the corner helps you to push yourself even harder.
The length of work and rest phases in HIIT workouts range between 20 and 60 seconds and can differ between workouts – as a beginner you may work for 20 seconds then rest for 40 seconds, but as you get fitter it may flip to working for 40 seconds and resting for 20 seconds.
The same principles apply to HIIT with weights, sometimes called HIRT – high-intensity resistance training. (This also means we can have lots of fun with quips like “HIIT you where it HIRTs”!)
What kind of exercises make up a HIIT training program? The beauty of this style is that HIIT exercises can be anything, from burpees to weighted bicep curls and everything in between. In our 6-week workout program Centr Fusion (designed for beginner to intermediate level intensity) you can even take on a hybrid style of boxing-infused HIIT with trainer Michael Olajide Jr.
New to fitness or want to challenge your body? You can do HIIT at any fitness level.
The benefits of HIIT
If you’re looking for an effective cardio workout, HIIT is your friend. HIIT will push you to your maximum work rate to build cardiovascular endurance and burn calories – plus, you’ll continue to burn energy even after you’ve finished training.
“But does HIIT build muscle?” we hear you ask. Why yes, the benefits don’t end with increased cardiovascular capacity. HIIT workouts engage and challenge big muscle groups to build muscle endurance and strength.
If muscle-building is your goal but a busy lifestyle and lack of sleep is restricting muscle protein synthesis (your body’s muscle-building process), HIIT can step in to fill the breach. New research suggests that HIIT can cancel out the effects of lack of sleep on muscle mass, helping you to maintain your gains.
The other big bonus of HIIT is that it’s designed to fit in around your schedule – you don’t need a big space, lots of equipment, or to turn up at a set time each day. You can do your HIIT workouts at the gym or at home. Plus workouts don’t need to be long to get results. If you’ve only got 20 minutes to move your body between work or life commitments? Perfect, that’s all you need for a HIIT circuit!
Can I do HIIT as a beginner?
HIIT workouts for beginners are definitely on the cards. In fact, HIIT is perfect for anyone, because the intensity can be scaled for your current level of fitness. We all have our own limits of ‘high’ intensity, which means each workout is individual to the person doing it.
In Centr workouts and programs you’ll often see on-screen modifications or voice-over tips to help you cater for any limitations and still get the most out of every workout. Success is not about performing the most difficult variation of an exercise, but raising your heart rate, heating up your muscles and challenging your body to perform at its peak through each work phase.
Can you do low-impact HIIT workouts?
Low-impact HIIT workouts are known as HILIT – high-intensity low-impact training. HILIT gets you working at your highest intensity with full-body movements but reduces the load and force of these movements to have a lower impact on your joints.
Where HIIT can involve jumping or plyometric movements such as jump squats, with HILIT you never have both feet off the ground. Take a burpee, for example: in a HILIT workout, instead of jumping your legs back and forward, you would step out one leg at a time.
But just because it’s low-impact doesn’t mean it’s easy! You’ll still get the heart-pumping, fat-burning, cardio-boosting benefits of HIIT workouts, just without the stress on your joints.
HILIT makes effective high-intensity exercise more accessible for those who may have joint pain, a bad back, are recovering from injury, or need to minimize the risk of injury. It’s also a good entry point to fitness for those who are new to exercise.
In Centr Unleashed, trainers Luke Zocchi and Ashley Joi give you the best of both worlds – mixing HIIT and HILIT movements into highly effective no-equipment workouts to unleash your full potential.
A free bodyweight HIIT workout from Chris Hemsworth’s team
Looking for an example of a HIIT workout? Try this 10-minute bodyweight session with Centr trainers Luke and Ashley now – no equipment required.
Make sure you warm up before taking on this workout, and cool down afterward.
You can get access to HIIT workout programs Centr 6 and Centr 6: Phase II (both of which deliver a daily full-body HIIT workout with weights), the 6-week bodyweight HIIT workout program Centr Unleashed, and countless other workouts by signing up for your free trial at Centr.com.
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