Is there a “best” way to do HIIT? No, there isn’t. And that’s good news! Here’s how to find your perfect HIIT equipment set-up… or do it with no equipment at all!
HIIT, or “high-intensity interval training” is a term for workouts that involve short periods of intense exercise performed for time, alternated with lower intensity recovery periods. It’s a great way to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, and it can provide all the same fitness, health, and weight-loss benefits of longer-duration cardio.
That’s WHY to do it. WHAT to do for HIIT cardio is a question our V Shred personal trainers get every day, especially in regard to our popular programs Fat Loss Extreme For Men, Fat Loss Extreme For Women, Toned in 90, and Move — all of which contain HIIT workouts.
Is the elliptical better than a bike? How about sprints? Plyometrics? Or a rowing machine? The answer: it doesn’t really matter what you do… as long as you can safely do it intensely!
Here’s why: The adaptations from this style of cardio aren’t just specific to a body part like your legs or arms. They’re systemic, which means they involve a lot of different systems and organs — from your lungs to your heart, capillaries, and sure, your muscles, too.
This means that you can experience the benefits of high-intensity interval cardio on whatever equipment works best for your body, your injury history, and your equipment set up. It can work even if you have no equipment at all!
The key to making HIIT effective is how hard you push yourself!
How To Know You’re Going “Hard Enough” In HIIT
There is really one thing you need to master when doing HIIT. That is getting your heart rate up high enough for these short sessions to be effective!
The most reliable way to do this is to wear a heart rate monitor. During the short bursts of high-intensity exercise, try to get your heart rate into 70-90 percent of your maximum heart rate and 55-65 percent during the rest periods.
Here is an easy formula for figuring out your max heart rate:
220 – (your age) = Maximum heart rate
Then just apply the percentages. Example: If you are 30 years old, 85% would be 161 beats per minute–right in the HIIT sweet spot. Training at 55% would be 101 beats per minute, which might feel more pleasant, but it’s not high enough to be HIIT.
If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you can use your breathing or the so-called “talk test” as a guide. This is not quite as reliable, but works in a pinch.
If you can chit-chat at the end of a high-intensity interval, you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. You should be struggling those last few seconds and need every second of “recovery” if you are performing HIIT correctly.
Equipment Options for HIIT
Bottom line: an effective HIIT session has less to do with what type of equipment you use and more about how hard you push yourself! If you can safely push the intensity for 20-30 seconds, that’s the real key in high-intensity training.
But here are a few guidelines that may help you decide what equipment (or not) to use for your HIIT cardio sessions.
- If all you have is a stationary bike, great! Crank up that resistance and use it!
- If running or sprinting hurts your knees but an elliptical doesn’t, go with the elliptical.
- If your heart rate soars when going up steps, jump on a step mill or find some steps and get to work!
- If you don’t like cardio machines, grab some battle ropes or a jump rope.
And if you don’t have access to any equipment, try doing plyometrics, perform run/jog intervals in your neighborhood, or find a small hill and perform hill sprints.
You could even just hit play on one of our follow-along bodyweight workouts, like the ones in many of our ready to download programs.
So yes, you’ve got options— not excuses!!
The Best Supplements for HIIT Training
Since HIIT is all about being able to push and maintain intensity, the best supplements for this style of training are ones that are going to give you energy, but also help fight fatigue. A solid pre-workout does both.
Suppose you need a little push to have the energy and stamina to make it through a tough HIIT session. In that case, you may want to try mixing up some Sculpt Nation PRE about 15-30 minutes before you get started!
The ingredients in PRE will help give you energy without jitters and can even assist in revving up your metabolism so you can burn even more fat while you break a sweat! If you’re new to pre-workouts, you can start out with just a half-dose to determine your tolerance.
Do you feel like HIIT is too advanced for your fitness level? Or are you struggling to figure out what type of cardio and training approach will work best for you and your body? We have a team of coaches who are helping thousands of people around the world solve that exact problem every day. Click HERE for more information or email email@example.com, and we’ll get you hooked up with one of our expert trainers!