There are a number of benefits to intense workouts at home; health and fitness being just two of the rewards. Regular physical activity can build strength, boost immunity, improve posture, and can also lead to weight loss, which further lowers the risk for chronic illnesses and disease.
How To Break Workout Plateau
However, regular exercise employing the same repeated workout can lead to what fitness experts call workout plateaus. A workout plateau happens when our body gets used to the rigor of the workout and could signal that you need to increase your exercise intensity level.
Changing up your workout and gradually increasing the intensity is the key to seeing results consistently. A good intense workout is one that uses your whole body and keeps your heart rate at 70% of your maximum recommended rate for your age. This simply means that an intense workout is one that would make it difficult for you to carry on a conversation without having to catch your breath.
For comparison, a moderate workout may only register about 50-60% maximum heart rate.
Benefits Of High Intensity Interval Training
You may have heard the term HIIT being used by fitness gurus. HIIT is more than just a string of letters. It refers to an intense type of workout that incorporates high intensity exercises like doing sprints and jumps or even running or cycling with very short rests in between.
Typically, a HIIT workout will require you to perform at a maximum energy level and do an active rest afterward. While in the active rest phase, you do lower-intensity moves like walking or swaying your arms to keep your heart rate raised but not extended.
HIIT workouts can also be incorporated with weights and resistance bands to further build muscle. Which can help in burning more calories even when you’re done with the exercise.
A 20-minute HIIT workout is much better than running at a steady pace for an hour in terms of caloric expenditure, meaning you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
If you are looking into doing HIIT workouts as a way to challenge yourself, it is important to keep in mind that these exercises are intended to be performed at a maximum energy level, so be prepared to sweat.
For those who are new to exercising or for people with heart conditions, it is best to consult your doctor first before going into any type of exercise routine, but especially one involving extreme exertion.
HIIT Beginner Workouts
Beginners should aim to ease themselves into a HIIT program workout. These are intense workouts and are going to push the cardiovascular demand to the highest possible limit. With this in mind, it’s important to choose exercises that can be done competently and effectively.
The best intense workouts should include short bursts with longer rests.
For example, in a situation where a beginner is working out, the right approach is to have 40 seconds of rest and 20 seconds of 100% effort. You rotate through this until you hit a set limit (i.e. 10 minutes of working out).
The reason for having the longer rest is to make sure the body has time to catch up with the intense burst. This includes getting oxygen into the body and ensuring the muscles are ready for another burst. If this is not planned properly, it’s easy to get tired to the point of not being able to do another burst.
The best exercises for beginner would include sprints and/or cycling.
This means you would sprint for 20 seconds and then rest for 40 seconds. This can be done on a treadmill or outdoors depending on what is available to you. The goal is to make sure for the 20 seconds, you are going all-out with the sprinting. Continue to do this for 10 minutes.
Watch This HIIT Sprint Workouts Video
If you are going to be cycling, the best approach is to do the same thing. This means 20 seconds of hard pedaling and then 40 seconds of resting.
Watch This HIIT Cycling Workout Video
This is going to ensure the body has a chance to recuperate during the 40 seconds of rest and you can then lean into another burst when it’s time to get started on the next part of the HIIT session for beginners.
HIIT Workout For Intermediate Level
As an intermediate, you are going to have a lot more experience to lean on. This is useful when it comes to a HIIT workout at home as you can get more creative with your strategy. This also lets you test the body and pushes it to the next level as you look to get stronger, fitter, and healthier.
In general, the best approach for intermediate athletes is to go for a balanced approach when it comes to rest. This includes having a 20-second burst and then 20 seconds of rest. You will continue to rotate through this for 10-12 minutes or as long as it takes for you to get tired.
The reason for the shorter rest is to make sure you are pushing harder and keeping the heart rate up. This is not the same as being a beginner and you are going to have the chance to go harder than someone that is just getting started.
With this in mind, good exercises for intermediate individuals can include jumping jacks or skipping rope.
Jumping jacks are great because it is a HIIT full body workout and it is more about how hard you push yourself. Make sure to maintain the 20-second bursts and 20 seconds of rest. As long as you are doing this, you are going to maximize the value you get from the HIIT session.
Watch This Jumping Jacks Video
The same goes for someone that is going to look at skipping rope. A jump rope is a powerful cardiovascular tool because it is going to help work on your legs while also getting the heart beating.
The goal here is to maximize your output with the bursts. You are going to skip rope as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds.
Watch This HIIT With Jump Rope Video
Advanced HIIT Workouts
This is when you are going to be pushing things to the hardest level possible. Experts are going to be settling in at the advanced level and this is when you are going to see how hard the body can push when you get started. It takes some time to get to this level but you are also going to burn a tremendous amount of calories when going through these sessions.
For this type of workout, you are going to be looking at active resting phases. This means you are going to have 30 seconds of all-out intensity and then 30 seconds of light intensity. At no point are you going to come to a dead stop during the workout session.
The reason for doing this is to make sure the body is always moving. As an advanced individual, you are not going to require the same type of rest as a beginner would.
The best exercises for an advanced individual would involve weighted movements. This can include weighted burpees or box jumps.
The goal is to not only get the heart beating but also build muscle at the same time. You are going to get a lot more value for your time under tension with this approach.
Keeping this in mind, you are going to get started by adding a bit of weight and then launching into an all-out intense burst. In this case, it will last for 30 seconds. Once you are done, you are going to slow down to a more gradual pace for 30 seconds.
With the burpees example, you would go all-out and then you would slow down to one burpee per 5-6 seconds. It’s just about speed.
Watch This Weighted Dumbbell Burpees Video
The same goes for box jumps as you ramp up the intensity.
Watch This Box Jump Cardio Workout Video
Continue to go through this and you are going to maximize these intense workout sessions.
Some Precautions During Exercise
HIIT exercises require you to perform at a maximum intensity level to be highly effective. Loads of energy is needed for you to successfully finish one HIIT routine.
For days when you feel you lack energy, you can probably skip HIIT and substitute with a lower-intensity routine. Recovery days are also vital in HIIT. While doing HIIT exercises every day can help you lose weight faster, it can also make you lose muscle mass.
Allow yourself to recover from HIIT by doing low-intensity workouts or by only lifting weights for that session. By doing so, you are not just losing fat, you’re building muscle, as well.
High-intensity Interval Training is an intense type of workout that can truly challenge even the fittest and the strongest. It is an effective way to lose fat and helps you fight off life-threatening illnesses.
HIIT exercises are also versatile and can be done in the gym, at home, or with running or cycling. Don’t let its name intimidate you, HIIT can be adapted even for beginners.
So go ahead, challenge yourself and do a HIIT workout today!