Push Yourself, but Stay Safe
“This type of exercise isn’t for everyone,” Miele-Pascoe says. For example, it’s not for you if you have heart problems, she says. Ask your doctor first if you’re not active now.
Once you’ve got the green light to hit the HIIT, heed these expert tips.
Take it slow. “Don’t attempt exercises that you haven’t built up to,” Miele-Pascoe says. You need to learn the moves and manage how intense you make it. “Be mindful of how much to push yourself and when to refrain.”
Let your body recover. “Because your body’s working harder, it needs more time in between workouts for muscles to heal,” says Lance Dalleck, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Western State Colorado University. Dalleck recommends taking at least 48 hours off between sessions.
Don’t overdo. Two HIIT sessions a week is plenty, in addition to your other workouts. “It’s easy to get carried away with interval training,” Dalleck says. “But actually, we’ve found that simply adding 1 day a week of interval training to a moderate-intensity program yielded better gains in fitness than doing moderate-intensity exercise alone.”
Use tools. You could wear a heart monitor so you know whether you’re on track. Devices like that help you have more effective, safer workouts, Dalleck says.
4 HIIT Workouts
1. HIIT on a Bike
Cycling is a low-impact way to get your heart rate racing. Miele-Pasco recommends this pedal pusher:
- Begin riding at a comfortable level.
- Ride at this speed for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
- Boost the intensity. Then pedal as fast as you can for 45 seconds.
- Go back to your first speed.
Try to go for 20 minutes. Gradually increase your time and intensity. Don’t have a stationary bike? Hit up a local track.
2. Tabata Squats
The Tabata method is named after a Japanese researcher who found that exercising in high-intensity bursts improves how your body burns energy. Young shares this squat set:
- Stand with your feet a little wider than your hips. With your chest lifted, squat until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor, arms raised in front of you as you sink down. Keep your weight on your heels.
- Do as many of these body-weight squats as you can for 20 seconds.
- Rest for 10 seconds.
- Repeat 8 times.