Cardio is no longer restricted to running, jogging and the typical gym machines. There are so many other creative ways to get a decent cardio workout for women. By far one of the most popular ones has to be high-intensity interval training (commonly referred to as HIIT). These interval workouts are a great way to work up a sweat. The idea behind HIIT is to train at high-intensity for a period of time and then break it up with a super-short interval of low-intensity exercise before you train at high-intensity again. This circuit of high-intensity workout with low-intensity breaks helps your body break down fat faster while also helping you gain strength because it keeps your heart rate engaged and performing in the cardio ‘fat burning zone’.

TC46 connected with Pallavi Barman who is the Head of Marketing & Operations at HRX (actor Hrithik Roshan’s brand). Pallavi is a fitness enthusiast herself, and here, she shares a detailed guide to taking up HIIT workouts, a model routine women can follow, and some rules to follow when training at high-intensity.

HIIT: Learn The Basics

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) was originally created for and practised by athletes. It comprises short bursts of high intensity and explosive movements interspersed with shorter durations of slower movements, rest and recovery.

It’s an extremely adrenaline-packed routine where for a shorter duration of time, a bigger punch is packed by the trainer. Now, mainly because of the way we are and the way we are trapped in the rigours of regular life, someone wise one day thought of packing in more in less time. And ta-da, HIIT came into being! While it was always in use for high-performance training with sportsmen and athletes, trainers had now started slowly adapting it into workout routines of regular people as well.

Know The How & Why Of HIIT Training

If we look at the science of HIIT, we will notice that the high-intensity movements done over a short period of time actually amp-up the heart rate by up to 80%-90% of a person’s individual maximum capacity. The shorter span of high-intensity movements consumes the oxygen in the body, pushing the body to anaerobic mode.

When in Anaerobic mode, the body tends to utilise fat instead of carbs for energy release, hence the body is put in the fat burn zone. This is followed by the short burst low-intensity slow movements when the body switches back to the aerobic mode and oxygen recovery happens. When this is done repeatedly through the session, the body burns fat faster. Hence it’s observed that HIIT can bring about a shift in the fat loss process of a body in up to 12 weeks.

Reap The Benefits Of An HIIT Workout

So, ahoy all ladies who are pressed for time and complain about not being able to squeeze in a daily workout in life’s general chaos, please evaluate HIIT! Anything between 10 min-30 min of a HIIT session is effective enough to bring about changes. And these changes pan across internal health as well as external appearance. Some of the benefits are listed below to help your decision-making.

Some Of The Benefits of HIIT Workouts Are:

  • It focuses on overall fitness and does not involve isolation muscle work
  • One typically doesn’t need a gym or equipment. Having some weights is an added benefit and works well in toning muscles.
  • HIIT builds stamina and improves both aerobic and anaerobic performance of the body
  • HIIT targets the fat reserves and is helpful in shifting metabolism; it also causes fat loss faster
  • Since aerobic performance is enhanced, that is, more oxygen is absorbed in the body, HIIT also helps in reversing the ageing process at a cellular level. This means softer, more supple skin, strong bones and joints, shiny hair and nails, and a lithe and young athletic body are a stone throw away with regular HIIT practice
  • And lastly my most favourite – hormonal health! So HIIT keeps a check on the insulin sensitivity. It’s a long scientific chain fo evidence, but for now, remember that insulin is your master hormone which keeps sugar craving and hunger in control. So if insulin is balanced well, the unwanted and undesirable cravings and junk snacking are easily avoided

Begin & Level Up With HIIT

HIIT is a sought after method of fitness for men, women, young, old, professional and beginners alike because it trains the heart and muscles to work at optimum capacity. Which means, in a short time of practice it can yield maximum results efficiently. It is also customisable so women can easily choose the routine by adjusting the movements, intensity and duration aligned to their fitness goals. Beginners, however, should start slow because the explosive and high-intensity movements can cause injury if done in haste or with incorrect form and posture. Also, a warm-up is imperative because it’s a fast-paced routine and it’s best to mobilise muscles and joints at the start to avoid injury. The movements are all complex full-body movements and when done right can benefit the entire system in and out. Some of the simplest ones are presented in Module 1 for starting out at home.

Beginners can perform a workout including warm-up and Module 1 and for those who wish to amp-up the HIIT session can perform from Warm up through Module 3 adding up to a 45 min of a supercharged HIIT session.

Module 1

  • Warm up- 3 sets (total 12 min)
  • Spot jogs- 60 sec
  • Rest 20 sec
  • Scissors – 60 sec
  • Rest 20 sec
  • Tuck jumps- 60 sec
  • Rest 20 sec

For the rest of the exercises, it’s best to do these (with good form and no slouching) for 45 sec into the exercise for high impact and then rest for a 15-sec break before you begin the next

One must perform 3 sets of the below mentioned 5 exercises.

Module 2 – 3 Sets (Total 15 Minutes)

  • Mountain climbers 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Squat jump 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Clap jacks 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Hopping Lunges 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • High knees 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec

Module 3 – 3 Sets (Total 18 Minutes)

  • Curtsy lunges – legs taken laterally behind for every lunge 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Jumping Jacks 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Squat kicks 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Low kicks 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Lateral lunges 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec
  • Air squats 45 sec
  • Rest 15 sec

This workout may seem intense to some but it can absolutely be adapted for low-impact as well as high-impact, depending on the need of the hour and personal capacity; any level of fitness, age, gender etc can be tuned in for a HIIT training module.

Every movement shared above can be slowed down and broken down to basic movements to achieve a slow impact output. So ladies, on tougher days when you are combating period pains or heavy flow, ideally rest it out. But should you feel like working that marvellous body, use the low-impact mode, adjust the time and intensity, and keep going!

Tailoring Intensity & Frequency

A workout routine is always most palatable and acceptable when it’s aligned to one’s fitness goals and the one which avoids monotony to set in. HIIT interestingly can take care of several health and fitness parameters when practised regularly while keeping things interesting with the variety and pace. So in my knowledge, it’s absolutely fine to indulge in up to 5 days of HIIT training while tweaking and adjusting the time and intensity each time. But anyone who follows a gruelling 5-day routine MUST make time for mobility and rest with equal focus. Sports massages, deep tissue healing and mobility must have a dedicated day in this 5 day workout week. The muscles while getting conditioned also get fatigued and taut with regular practice, so one must opt-in for a day to relax and untangle the knots. This recovery only aids muscle building by removing the deposits of lactic acid and mobilising the muscles and joints to enable free movement.

Nutrition: Key To Fitness

Lastly and most importantly, in order to maximise the impact of any workout regimen, the nutrition plan has to work hand in glove with the adopted method. Please complement your HIIT training with the right kind and amount of nourishment and the body will yield positive results amounting to the reversal of lifestyle diseases to anti-ageing to fat loss in a relatively shorter period of time, less than 12 weeks, in some cases.

Along with the above, certain thumb rules must be followed to keep it safe and interesting like:

  • Choose the right gear and invest in quality shoes, elbow and knee pads and gloves if needed.
  • Always warm up your body and observe good form when working out to avoid injuries.
  • Keep changing the combinations of exercises in your workouts to make things interesting, but also, swap out an exercise you feel your body is not ready for if it makes you cramp or gives you pain.
  • Add weight lifting to your routine if you can, but remember to keep the intervals short
  • Breath deep and consistently while working out. Don’t hold your breath when lifting.
  • Break 1-2 days a week. If you can, get an oil massage on one of these days.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard. It takes the body time to adapt to HIIT. In the beginning, let your body decide when it needs rest and recovery. You may start with HIIT 3 times a week and work your way up to a more frequent schedule and longer duration workouts.

And that’s all you need to know about HIIT. Happy training, ladies!

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