I have been taking it easy on the distance running lately and have been focusing on my total-body strength with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Why? Because I want my outside to reflect how I feel inside: strong. Running alone is not going to get me to that place. It has only taken me four years to figure that out.
Instead of running mile after mile after mile, I’ve reduced runs to three per week: two during the work week and one long run on the weekend. Five to six days out of the week, I’ve been doing strength work—HIIT-style. And a couple days during the week, I ride my bike.
But I’ve also changed the way I run and ride. I’ve added high-intensity intervals where I go all out for a short burst and then back off during a rest period, and repeat for a certain amount of time. For example, I have about 30 minutes to run on my lunch hour during the week. My old routine had me run easy for a mile, run at or below half-marathon pace for a mile and then running easy for a mile. My new HIIT routine changes up that middle mile. Instead of running at a moderate pace, I sprint for 30 seconds then run easy for 30 seconds until I get a mile. Or, I sprint for a minute and run easy for a minute.
“It sounds too simple to be effective,” writes Charlotte Andersen on Shape.com, “but science doesn’t stretch the truth.” In her article, “8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT),” there are four benefits that especially stand out to me:
Efficiency of HIIT Training Routines
“Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour,” writes Andersen. This is a huge benefit for me. As a working parent of an active 5-year-old boy, I don’t have large chunks of time in my day to devote to working out (even though, I’d love it if I did).
HIIT Training Burns More Fat
Um. Yes, please. HIIT keeps your body burning fat longer after you finish your work out. Studies show HIIT workouts also increase your metabolism!
Get a Healthier Heart from HIIT Training
The intensity level required for HIIT has you “…pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is going to jump out of your chest).” You will feel a great sense of accomplishment after a short, but intense workout. In fact, I feel more proud after a short HIIT routine than a long run because the HIIT workout was so much harder!
With HIIT Training, You Lose Weight, Not Muscle
Andersen points out that steady-state cardio has been shown to cause muscle loss along with fat loss, but weight training and HIIT has been shown to help people keep their muscles “ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores.”
Click the link, “8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT),” to read all of Andersen’s benefits on Shape.com.
Below, check out some great HIIT workouts. Be consistent (it’s easy to since the workouts are so time-efficient) and you’ll be seeing results quickly!
HIIT Bodyweight Workout from Shape.com: No equipment required with squats, lunges, planks, push ups, squat jumps (!) and more, plus lots of pictures and instructions so you know you are doing it right.
HIIT Aerobic Workouts from Bodyhack.com: Fit these into your running routine to burn fat (plus, over time you’ll get faster). Check out the other HIIT workouts on the page, too!
A 6-Week HIIT Workout Plan from TrainerJosh.com: ACE-certified personal trainer Josh Schlottman, CSCS, writes about sprinters’ bodies and marathoners’ bodies, and why they look so different, then gives you a cardio HIIT routine to try for six weeks.
8-Week “HIIT-for-Fat-Burning” Program at Bodybuilding.com: Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., gives a very detailed 8-week routine to “…take you from HIIT beginner to HIIT stud in 8 short weeks.” There are four phases, and the routines are also available in PDFs for easy printing.