HIIT or miss?

by Khushboo on February 27, 2012

After my post last week on Body for Life workouts, I got a comment about whether my workouts are shorter:

Overall, I am in the gym more days of the week, but I spend less time in the gym per session.  Before BFL, I used to spend at least 50 minutes in the gym, because anything less felt like an incomplete workout.  Heck less than a year ago, I trained to run (and finally did) 16km on the treadmill.  However over the last 5 weeks that I’ve been following BFL, I can be in out of the gym within 35 minutes and still feel like I gave it my all.

Despite my initial doubts about only doing 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week, I am convinced it works because of the High Intensity Training (HIIT) employed in BFL:

HIIT training raises your metabolism to a high level, and keeps it there long after the workout is over.  Unlike longer, steady-state sessions of cardio, the effects of HIIT are most apparent after the workout: during the following 24 hours, your body expends more energy recovering, thus increasing your resting metabolic rate and overall calorie burn.

The specific kind of HIIT used in the program is known as the High Point Technique, and can be performed on any kind of cardio machine (I stick with the treadmill or arc trainer).  It involves 4 repeated sets of high and low intensity intervals, and follows a specific structure based on RPE (rate of perceived exertion).  Over the 20 minutes you repeatedly take yourself to a point where you are breathing very hard, and then reduce the intensity to recover before repeating the process.  Minutes 18-19 is referred to as your high point, where you max out.  Here is a sample way to complete the HIIT workout on the treadmill:

Speeds will vary according to fitness levels

While we each have our own ‘high point’ (a.k.a. a level 10), a true high point is one where’s there’s no question whether you could have given a single ounce more of energy.  Although I have no desire to continue the HIIT workouts for even a minute over 20, I normally follow the sessions up with a 10-15 minutes cool-down of moderate-intensity cardio.

The BFL technique of HIIT is probably the most challenging cardio I’ve done, but it’s also the most satisfying.  Each of the 20-minute cardio sessions are hard work but if it means sleeping a bit extra in the morning, and then feeling both sensational and accomplished after I’ve finished the workout, they are definitely a “hit”!

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Parita @ myinnershakti February 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for sharing some more info. HIIT is no joke! I did a 30ish minute workout this weekend that had me more tired than any hour long steady cardio work. And I’m still feeling it today! Happy Monday (night), K!

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

I can imagine- 20 minutes of HIIT is as exhausting (if not more) than a 40 minute steady state run…funny how that works!

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Hansa February 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Love the pic. The little girl reminds me of you when you were younger and the pretty young runner sure looks like you now. Great post!!!

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

Lol…thanks..I think? hahaha

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Karina February 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Can’t wait to start BFL – you’ve really convinced me its a great program and will really look forward to shorter workouts!!

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

It’ll make a great change from Insanity :) !

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Tessa at Amazing Assett February 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Thank you for the info on this! HIIT is so so hard, and no joke at all! I used to do it every.single.day and realized oh wait, I am hurting my body so much!

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

Wow every single day is hardcore…part of me is relieved BFL only calls for it thrice a week!

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Jenna@HealthyTrends February 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I love this post! I use to think I had to be in the gym for over an hour to be productive, but then I realized if I gave it my all for 30 minutes every day then it was just as beneficial. And can I say that the picture gets me every time I see it!! So true, and so me! I feel like I’m an Olympian when I run but I know I look like that little girl!! Thanks so much for the info

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

Hahah especially when I’m running at RPE 10, I feel like Pheobe from that episode of FRIENDS when she goes running!

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Ali Mc February 27, 2012 at 11:40 pm

This makes complete sense. You know where I struggle is, as someone trying to increase my endurance and a runner who’s goal this year is to run a full marathon I am always doing cardio – and “wasted miles” so to speak. I also want to get strong and increase my muscle mass but I don’t really know how to do both?!!?!? so complicated. Maybe after I complete a marathon I’ll just focus on having cardio as interval work for my heart only.

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

I think you’re sensible in waiting to finish the marathon before upping your weight lifting- it’s difficult to burn the candle on both ends!

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Alexandra February 28, 2012 at 12:07 am

This was SO informative girl! I used to do HIIIT waaaaaay too much a few years ago and it wreaked havoc on my body. I don’t think I ever gave myself adequate rest ya know? That being said, I sure do love it every once in awhile though, it’s the best sweat maker EVA!! :D

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

I don’t know if I could physically (or mentally) handle daily HIIT sessions! And I’m glad I’m not the only fan of sweat :D

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Alyse February 28, 2012 at 1:35 am

Thanks for sharing the sample plan! This may be a dumb question but…do you have any tricks for getting used to adjusting the treadmill speeds so often? Like do you bring a printout of your plan, or do you have it committed to memory?

I think I’d have a hard time remembering all that (and not falling off the treadmill as I tried to read / adjust / keep running at the same time!

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:59 am

Not a dumb question at all! Initially I had it saved on my iTouch so I could glance on it during my run! Now the speeds are somewhat down to memory but I change the speeds up according to the day (i.e. reduce it if I’m not feeling it or increase it if I’m blasted with energy on a particular morning!)

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Brittany February 28, 2012 at 3:39 am

I love that last picture..I die every time I see it.

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm

It makes my day too!

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Pooja Mirpuri February 28, 2012 at 3:48 am

Hello,

Thanks for explaining this more. Do you think a spinning class achieves the results of HIIT?
x

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

To some extent yes but spin classes are more along the lines of interval training in the notion that it’s not steady state, i.e. hill climbs, seated flats, sprints, standing hills etc. However HIIT training is full blown out 95% of your max HR effort followed by brief recovery, repeated for a few more times…technically you shouldn’t physically be able to do more than 25 minutes of HIIT if your maxing out. Hope that makes sense!

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fashiongal86 March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

ooooh ok, yes it does :)

thanks
xx

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jojo February 28, 2012 at 3:53 am

I did few intervals last week, just like the chart you posted above.
YEAH, I got worked!! I was thinking that “if this 25 minutes didn’t feel like enough exercise, I’ll just run extra 20 minutes or mild running….” yeah. didn’t do that. More like couldn’t do it.
When you really give all you have during the “high intensity” run, you are exhausted after the whole set!
I love the photo you posted in the end, because that’s how I feel too when I’m running! ;)

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

On the first week, I was slightly ambitious with my cardio plans…yeah clearly I hadn’t had a proper taste of HIIT!

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sprint2thetable February 28, 2012 at 4:28 am

I am really loving HIIT workouts and tabata-style stuff lately. I don’t have 2 hours to spend in the gym and I like that these can work up a good sweat in no time!

That last pic is soooo me. :)

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I need to try out tabata- I keep reading about it!

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Sig February 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

I LOVE HIIT :D It’s pretty awesome to get a killer workout in anything from 10-30 minutes! It was actually the main reason why Ioved the BFL plan so much when I did it last year, cardio DONE in no time! That way I focused more on the weights part :D

Hahah and yep – that pic is me to a tee. Coz then I trip and fall and it’s not pretty at all.

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I still find it crazy how quick the cardio sessions are- I think I am going to stick with them even after the 12 weeks are over!

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onehealthymunchkin February 28, 2012 at 8:16 am

HAHA ok at first I didn’t read the chart properly and I thought it was in miles per hour and I was like “Woah, Khushboo, you BEAST!” Haha! :P

I like to do one run per week that incorporates HIIT. But I never really follow a plan. I want to try yours next time!

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Khushboo Thadani February 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Haha if I was running those speeds in miles per hour, I probably wouldn’t be blogging…I’d be training for the Olympics :) !

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honeywhatscooking February 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

this sounds so intense.. it’s good you go everyday for a shorter duration. btw.. i’m back in the US.. and i was so sad leaving india. i’m going to do a non-biased post on my experience. in terms of safety, what have you heard? mumbai is safer or delhi? I’ve heard mumbai is safer.

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Khushboo Thadani February 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

I have heard that Mumbai is much safer than Delhi! I don’t know how true this is but apparently it’s unsafe for girls to take cabs alone in Delhi? I can take cabs here even at 8/9pm without worrying about my safety. Looking forward to reading your post!

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honeywhatscooking March 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm

that’s what I’ve heard about Delhi. i don’t know why, i’m glad i had my husband with me and my niece this way we could hang out a bit later.

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Healthiful Balance February 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I’ve heard so many awesome things about HIIT! :)

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Khushboo Thadani February 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

I’m a fan !

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Tara February 29, 2012 at 5:06 am

I don’t do much HIIT on the treadmill – but my track workouts are kinda like HIIT! I do it on the elliptical to cross train though and it kills!

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Khushboo Thadani February 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

I haven’t tried HIIT on the elliptical but I bet it’s killer…perhaps tomorrow’s workout!

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com February 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

Ha! That last photo had me laughing so hard :)

I am into yoga these days and hopefully I can drag my b**t back into the gym soonish!

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Khushboo Thadani March 1, 2012 at 11:07 am

My hamstrings are so tight right now- I could def do with some yoga in my life!

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turtlespdrunner February 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Huge fan of HIIT here, but I usually do my HIIT workouts on the bike. I don’t trust my injury prone legs to do HIIT on the concrete without getting injured!!

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Khushboo Thadani March 1, 2012 at 11:08 am

I’m glad to know that it can be done on the bike- I’m still yet to try it!

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