Whether you're training for a race, Fitness Test, or you just want to get in better shape this year, high intensity interval training (HIIT) may be the perfect workout for you.
HIIT is a type of cardio that involves alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with brief periods of rest or low-intensity activity.
HIIT has been shown to be more effective than traditional aerobic exercise when it comes to burning fat and calories, and it can be done in as little as 10 minutes per day!
In this article, we'll discuss what HIIT is, how often you should do HIIT workouts, and some HIIT workouts for beginners.
What is High Intensity Interval Training?
HIIT is a type of cardio that involves short, high-intensity bursts of activity followed by brief periods of rest.
HIIT workouts are typically much shorter than traditional endurance exercises like running or biking, but they are far more intense. It's this elevated level of intensity that is key for experiencing the benefits of HIIT.
It’s important to note that due to the increased intensity of HIIT workouts, they are shorter in duration, making them more time-efficient than traditional workouts. In other words, you’ll get many of the same benefits of traditional workouts in a fraction of the time.
Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT training has many benefits for your body and mental wellbeing, all of which can directly improve your results on testing day for the ACFT.
HIIT workouts can improve cardiovascular health, boost metabolism, build muscle mass, strengthen the heart and lungs, reduce inflammation levels, and promote brain health.
Let's dive a little deeper regarding the benefits of HIIT.
Increased Calorie Burning
As HIIT is an intense form of exercise, it burns more calories in a shorter amount of time and boosts your metabolism for hours after the workout.
One study found that in a comparison between weight training, aerobics, and HIIT, the latter burned more calories in less time than the former options. 
Increased EPOC (Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption)
Continuing with the point above, after a HIIT workout, your metabolic rate will be increased for a few hours. This is known as excess post-oxygen consumption.
When you exercise, your body goes into an oxygen deficit. After you finish exercising, your body has to work to repay that oxygen debt. This means extra work and extra calories burned.
The greater the oxygen debt, the more calories that are burned.
HIIT has been shown to be effective in improving BOTH aerobic and anaerobic performance.
Aerobic performance is the body's ability to use oxygen during exercise. HIIT increases your endurance and allows you to perform at higher levels for longer periods of time.
Anaerobic performance is the body's ability to produce energy in short bursts, such as sprinting 100m or lifting a heavy object.
Both of these types of performance are going to be critical during different fitness tests and competitions.
HIIT is also particularly useful for burning fat in those stubborn areas where you want to see the results most: belly, butt and thighs. And the science backs this up.
One meta-analysis of 39 studies found that HIIT was incredibly effective at decreasing fat-mass deposits, especially abdominal and visceral fat mass. 
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
HIIT training has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity which can help decrease symptoms associated with type-II diabetes or help to prevent it from developing in the first place.
Time Efficient Workouts
HIIT workouts are also great for people who have limited time, busy schedules and like to get things done quickly. HIIT workouts can be performed anywhere without any equipment, or with just a few pieces of basic workout gear.
How Often Should You Do HIIT Workouts?
HIIT can be done in as little as ten minutes per day. This is a good starting point for beginners. Over time, these workouts would increase in length, but they would never surpass the 30-minute mark.
To give you an idea, some of the most advanced HIIT workouts tend to run 30 minutes and they are incredibly fast-paced and intense.
For beginners, HIIT should be performed no more than three times per week to give your body time to recover.
HIIT Workouts for Beginners
HIIT is a great type of workout, but it is important that you start out slowly before building up to more intense HIIT workouts.
This HIIT workout for beginners is a great way to get started. Just remember not to push yourself too hard at first!
Warm up your body with some light cardio like jogging in place or jumping rope. You should also perform some dynamic stretches before you begin HIIT training.
HIIT Workout Breakdown
Complete all of the repetitions for one exercise and then immediately move on to the next exercise. Once you complete all of the reps for each exercise, rest for up to four minutes, then begin the list again. Repeat this workout up to three rounds.
- Jump Squat: 5
- Push-Up: 5
- Side Lunge: 6 (3 on each side)
- Crunches: 10
- Mountain Climbers: 10
- Burpees: 5
Take about 5 to 10 minutes after the workout to cool down with some low-impact, low-intensity exercises such as a walk and static stretching.
HIIT Workouts Will Help You Get Ready for Training
HIIT workouts are a great way to get in shape quickly and improve your overall fitness level. HIIT is an intense form of exercise, so it's important that you start out slowly before building up to more intense HIIT workouts. Again, be sure to warm up properly and allow for adequate rest time in between workouts.
- Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000661. PMID: 25162652.
- Maillard F, Pereira B, Boisseau N. Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2018 Feb;48(2):269-288. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0807-y. PMID: 29127602.