Get leaner and healthier faster with HIIT!

For many, cardio is merely a necessary evil in the quest to a fitter lifestyle. So why not choose a form of cardio that delivers twice the bang for its buck!?

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is one of my favourite forms of cardio for a number of reasons, and it plays a big part in my workout routine.
Here’s why:

1. Boosts your Vo2.
2. Burns more fat and calories in less time.
3. Improves your overall health.
4. Fights off fatigue
5. Allows you to continue burning calories, even after your workout is complete a.k.a the afterburn (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC)
6. Increasingly, studies have shown this type of workout trumps steady-state cardio in which you maintain a constant heart rate throughout the activity.

In order to reap the full benefits of HIIT (hormonal release, EPOC, increased fatty oxidation, improved insulin sensitivity, etc.), it is essential that you are performing it correctly. This means that you need to be operating at a high enough intensity during your “work” intervals (between 85%-95% of your maximum heart rate).

Use this equation to work out your max heart rate:

220 – [Your age] = Maximum heart rate (This is the average maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise.)  For example 220 – 26 = 194

It’s also important to utilise HIIT in a way that prevents you from reaching plateaus. A great way to do this is by using progressive overload (gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency or time)

Here are some examples of how to use progressive overload:

  • Increase the intensity of your work interval
  • Increase the duration of your work interval
  • Decrease the duration of your rest interval
  • Increase the number of intervals performed
  • Increase the  intensity and decrease the duration
  • Increase the duration and decrease the intensity

Essentially, you want to change up the way you perform the activity or progressively overload your workouts using one (or more) of the above variables whenever you start to feel too comfortable. It’s important to keep your body guessing so that you can continually progress towards your goals.

Since HIIT is such an intense form of exercise, there are a few key components to consider before you begin – If you are not mindful you may increase the risk or injury, burnout and overtraining.


To reduce risk of injury and maximise results use these pointers before you begin:


Ease in

You need to have a basic level of aerobic fitness before you start adding interval training. Anyone who has done at least one month of cardio work for approximately 20 minutes three to four times per week has a minimum level of cardio fitness. If you are at this point, you can progressively include a intervals into your workout. Gradually increase the volume, intensity, frequency or time (progressive overload) as you get more comfortable.

Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy

If you hate running or cycling, then sprint intervals may not be your best choice. If you dislike a particular type of training, then chances are you won’t stick with it for long. Choose a HIIT mode you will continue to enjoy.


Select an exercise where:

  • You utilise the larger muscle groups, like your legs, as this helps increase your heart rate faster
  • You’re able to reach top speed and also be able to slow down just as quickly


Ensure that you fuel up

If your goal is to burn body fat, it’s easy to overlook a proper meal before a cardio workout, but that’s a big mistake! In order to see results and perform to the best of your ability you need to eat! If you are unable to have a meal before your workout, or you don’t have the time to wait 1-2 hours after eating, try having a protein shake or energy bar 30 mins before you begin.


Listen to your body

If your energy levels are low or you’re having an off day, don’t push yourself! Rather try a lower intensity form of exercise or take a rest day. Exhaustion can be a sign of illness, burnout and overtraining, so just trust your body and get in some downtime.

My go-to form of HIIT are sprints done on a treadmill.

for example:
– 30 seconds sprint at 16 kmph.
– 30 seconds rest (I jump my feet to the sides of the treadmill).
– Repeat for 15 mins.

Do you have a love or hate relationship with cardio? Do you have any questions about HIIT? Let me know in the comments below!

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