HIIT: An Effective 20-30 Minute Workout
One of the misconceptions about exercise is that to be a fit, healthy adult, you must exercise for three hours every day and live off of protein shakes.
As a teacher, you don’t have three hours to exercise. You’re so busy grading papers, sending emails, and shaping young minds that it’s often tempting to let exercise take a permanent back seat.
Luckily, you don’t need to spend hours exercising every day. You just need 20-30 minutes, or even less, with a HIIT workout.
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts usually have at least two intervals: a work interval and a rest interval. The work portion is often extremely intense and requires you to push as hard as you can, and the rest allows your body and heart rate to recover before the next round.
Benefits of HIIT
If you’re aiming to scrunch down your workout time, then HIIT is your best bet. One study found that HIIT had the same effectiveness as a moderate physical activity training program but required 40% less time.
High-intensity training has a multitude of benefits. Studies show that HIIT burns 25-30% more calories than weight training, running, and/or biking. HIIT also increases your metabolic rate: so even when you aren’t exercising, you’re still burning calories.
HIIT exercises are also a great way to burn fat fast and gain muscle. Studies have found that people who perform HIIT workouts 3 times a week for 20 minutes per workout lose weight (about 4.4 lbs in 12 weeks) without making dietary changes. HIIT is the most effective exercise for fat loss for overweight people and the most effective for muscle gain for those who were less active at the start. (However, if you are looking to gain large amounts of muscle, weight training is still the way to go!)
Numerous studies have found that HIIT workouts can reduce blood sugar, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Finally, HIIT is versatile for either a home or gym workout. And, there are so many varieties of HIIT workouts, it’s nearly impossible to get bored. It’s a win-win!
HIIT Workout styles
Even though the theme is the same (high intensity) there’s a shocking number of different styles of HIIT workouts. Mix it up and try them all out.
Tabata Training began when a researcher (Dr. Izumi Tabata) studied two sets of athletes: a moderate and a high-intensity group. Dr. Tabata found that when the two were compared, the high-intensity group not only saw superior improvement in their cardiovascular system but also saw a 28% improvement in their muscular system.
Thus, Tabata training was born.
The model is simple. With each exercise, you go as hard as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10, and repeat 8 rounds. In total, each exercise takes 4 minutes.
For a beginner, I would recommend splitting the 8 rounds into two sets of four rounds with a longer break in between. I suggest starting with 4 exercises and working your way up to 6 or 7.
The great thing about Tabata is its flexibility. Pick just about any exercise you want and see great results.
Sample Tabata Training Workout:
- Lunges (4 minutes)
- Burpees (4 minutes)
- Crunches (4 minutes)
- Squats (4 minutes)
EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)
EMOM workouts are stylized quite differently than Tabata Training. In EMOM workouts, you have a minute to perform a pre-determined number of reps and then the remainder of that minute to rest.
This is a nice change to Tabata because of the motivation to push harder to get a longer rest. The sooner you complete the required number of reps, the longer you rest before the minute is up.
Again, EMOM is flexible. You decide how many exercises and how many minutes. You can do EMOM with or without weights.
Sample EMOM Workout:
10 Bicep Curls (1 minute)
15 Pushups (1 minute)
12 Overhead Press (1 minute)
15 Crunches (1 minute)
Do a total of 3 rounds.
AMRAP stands for ‘As Many Reps as Possible’ and is synonymous with ‘circuit’. If you are familiar with CrossFit, then you’re familiar with an AMRAP workout.
Even in AMRAP workouts, there’s some variety. You can set a timer for 12-20 minutes and complete as many rounds of a set of exercises as possible. Or you can pick an exercise, set a timer for a minute, do as many reps as you can, rest for a minute, and then do the same thing for another exercise.
Sample AMRAP workout:
Deadlifts (1 minute)
Step Ups with weight (1 minute)
Goblet Squats (1 minute)
Burpees (1 minute)
Kettlebell Swings (1 minute)
Do a total of three rounds
Tabata Training, EMOM, and AMRAP are just the beginning. There are tons of other HIIT workout styles, such as complexes, ladders, 10-20-30, and more!
And if you don’t like any of these styles, you can make your own. HIIT workouts are based on a work interval followed by a rest interval. Duration, degree of intensity, number of repetitions, and exercises are variables you can adjust to customize your workout.
Stay safe and get the most out of a HIIT workout with these tips:
- Warm-up: Like any other exercise, you can hurt yourself if you don’t warm your muscles and stretch. Consider taking a 2–3-minute jog before jumping into a HIIT workout.
- Ease into it: Especially if you are just starting out or restarting to exercise. Start slow and build up. These workouts are hard by design, but they aren’t supposed to result in burnout in a few days. Adjust to meet your current needs.
- Use the rest time: The rest time needs to be used. Many benefits from high-intensity training come from allowing your heart rate to drop before elevating it again.
- Set goals and track progress: In my experience, you usually see gains and improvements faster if you keep track of your workouts. This also helps you develop workout plans. You can look back and see what worked and what didn’t and make adjustments.
The Take Home
HIIT is fast, fun, and one of the most effective workouts out there. They’re the perfect workout for anyone looking to save time!
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