If you're short on time but want to stay committed to your workout routine, HIIT and Tabata workouts may be the right fit for you. In terms of results, these workouts give you the most bang for your buck and require minimal time out of your busy day. And, you can perform them at home with or without additional equipment like resistance bands or dumbbells. Read on to learn more about HIIT and Tabata training and how they can add value to your at-home workouts.
High-intensity interval training, commonly known as HIIT, has been around since the early 1900s. It's a favorite among athletes and fitness lovers who want to improve endurance and get the most out of their workout. Since 2014 HIIT has maintained the status as a top-ranking fitness trend, and with good reason. It is fun, fast, and easy to incorporate into your busy life.
HIIT combines both short periods of intense exercises that require maximum effort and lower intensity exercise (or rest). During the high-intensity phase, you work as hard as you can, at a level that you couldn't sustain for an extended period. Those high-intensity exercises are followed by brief rest-periods that allow your body to recover. It's possible to complete a full-body HIIT workout in just a few minutes.
But what makes HIIT so effective at burning calories? That's all down to something called EPOC (excessive post-oxygen consumption) or the afterburn effect. As you work to the point of breathlessness during a high-intensity workout, your body demands more oxygen, thereby increasing the rate at which we burn calories (our metabolism). And the need to return oxygen levels to normal levels continues even when you're resting or working at a lower intensity. This afterburn effect remains long after you've finished your workout and can last all day.
The basic components of a HIIT workout include:
· Warmup - For approximately 3 to 10 minutes, warm up with an exercise that gets your body moving and starts to increase your heart rate. Try active stretching, jogging on the spot, walking in place, etc.
- Strength and cardio exercises – HIIT workouts need to include strength exercises (with or without weights) that work your muscles and cardio exercises, either high or low impact, that increase your heart rate. The choice of exercises is up to you. To help keep your routine fresh, switch up your exercises as you get more adept at doing them.
- Intervals – While ranges vary, optimal interval times for a HIIT workout have been noted as 1-2 min of intense exercise followed by 1-3 minutes of rest or low-intensity exercise. But it all depends on your fitness level and your goals. Beginners may want to start with longer rest periods and progress from there. When you’ve finished one round of exercises, repeat for a total of 3 or 4 rounds.
- Effort – HIIT workouts can range from 5-25 minutes. They are most effective if kept below 30 minutes. Work at 100% capacity during the high-intensity phase.
- Cooldown – Don't forget to stretch those muscles; you've earned it!
HIIT workouts are incredibly flexible and easily adaptable to your fitness level. There are many ways to perform a HIIT workout, so research routines and experiment with intervals to find what works for you.
While Tabata might sound like a mysterious, new-age exercise, it's actually a type of HIIT workout. Founded by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996, Tabata has become increasingly popular over the last few years and is extremely effective at burning calories and improving overall fitness.
Because Tabata is a form of HIIT, it embodies the same general concept – high-intensity exercise followed by a period of rest. But the main difference is in the execution and recovery period. Tabata workouts follow a specific protocol. Intervals are completed in 4-minute increments of 8 rounds that include 20 seconds of high-intensity work followed by 10 seconds of recovery.
Tabata workouts generally last for 20 minutes, but they can be performed in even shorter intervals like HIIT. Here's what a Tabata workout consists of:
- Warmup – Whether it's Tabata or any other program, always begin with a warmup to get your body ready for the work ahead.
- Effort – Tabata workouts can range from 4 – 20 minutes. They can be as simple as one interval that lasts four minutes or 5 intervals that total 20 minutes.
- Exercises – You can perform just one exercise for your 4-minute interval or combine activities. For optimal impact, integrate strength and cardio exercises. Because of Tabata’s quick pace though, you’ll probably want to stick to bodyweight, compound movements, and cardio exercises. Like HIIT, the exercises you include are up to you.
- Intervals – Each 4-minute interval includes 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.
- Cooldown – Just like your warmup, the cooldown is an integral part of your workout. Use the time to stretch and reconnect with your body.
Benefits of HIIT and Tabata Training
These workouts are equally powerful and an excellent option for those with busy lifestyles. So, if you don't have an hour to spend on training, don't worry. HIIT and Tabata burn as much or more than prolonged, continuous low to medium -intensity exercises like cycling, jogging, or weightlifting. They make it possible for you to sneak in a quick workout as part of your morning routine, at the end of the workday, or anytime you have a few minutes to spare. Aside from their time-saving qualities, what other benefits can you expect from HIIT and Tabata training? The answer is a lot; HIIT and Tabata can:
- Increase fat loss
- Increase metabolism
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Raise endorphins (our natural feel-good hormones) and boost mood
- Strengthen and tone muscles
- Improve endurance
- Decrease blood pressure
You can enjoy a HIIT or Tabata workout 2-3 times a week. But don't overdo it by training daily. Your body needs time to rest and recover from these demanding workouts. In between sessions, opt for a different type of activity such as Pilates, yoga, or low-intensity cardio, etc. Or give yourself a day off.
Tip: For both HIIT and Tabata, use a timer to make sure you complete the exercises in the allotted time.
Are you ready to try a HIIT or Tabata workout? If so, prepare yourself to sweat, burn a ton of calories, get your heart pumping, and shake up your workout routine. HIIT and Tabata are where it's at for short workouts that deliver maximum benefits.