You're Wasting Time If You Aren't Doing HIIT

Ron's picture

Like almost everyone these days, your time is limited and you'd better learn to exercise efficiently. Unless, that is, you're one of the few people in our country who has too much time on their hands.

But if you usually find yourself trying to squeeze two day's worth of activity into one day, let me tell you that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) allows you to use your fitness minutes most effectively.

What is HIIT?

In the following video, trainer Aaron Ribant of uses an elliptical to demonstrate the basic principle of interval training.

High Intensity Interval Training Isn't New...Just Most People Think So

Anyone who's been involved in long distance sports anytime after about 1950 is most likely amused by all of the breathless enthusiasm at fitness clubs surrounding interval training. After all, performing a workout that alternates extremely hard efforts with recovery intervals has been a mainstay in running, cycling, and swimming for decades.

But now it seems the mainstream fitness culture has discovered the approach, and is going Lady Gaga about its benefits. And there's good reason for the buzz, since the effects of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), particularly as it relates to weight loss, continue long after the workout ends.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Defined

HIIT isn't too's just a very powerful weapon to add to your fitness war chest. It essentially entails doing a workout that alternates times of exercising at an intensity that you can't sustain for much more than a minute or two, with times of recovery. I think it can best be understood by looking at a sample workout that I regularly do on my bike trainer. While I'm currently riding on a Kurt Kinetic trainer, another good option is the CycleOps Fluid Trainer 2.

  • Ten minutes of easy warm-up pedaling.
  • Three minutes of hard pedaling, followed by three minutes of easy recovery pedaling.
  • Two minutes of hard pedaling, followed by two minutes of easy recovery pedaling.
  • One minute of hard pedaling, followed by one minute of easy recovery pedaling.
  • Two minutes of hard pedaling, followed by two minutes of easy recovery pedaling.
  • Three minutes of hard pedaling.
  • Ten minutes of easy warm-down pedaling.

Regarding the intensity of the hard efforts...this is up to the individual. People used to hardcore fitness programs may go just about as hard as they can bear during the hard portions, while those who are new to HIIT would do best to not push the hard parts too much.

After all, the objective is to incorporate HIIT into your program on a long term basis, not to blow a fuse on your first attempt.

It goes without saying that you should consult your doctor when initiating any exercise program. Because of the strenuous nature of HIIT, this is even more important.

Keep The Motor At 'High Idle' For Hours After HIIT

Just about everyone knows about the benefits of 'cardio' exercise. You know, the steady long workouts that benefit the cardiovascular system.

At the same time, if you're like me, you also know of some runners or cyclists who practice long, slow exercise and continue to look overweight. One of the most powerful changes they could make to their fitness program as it relates to excess body weight is to incorporate some high intensity sessions into their exercise week.

The magic is in what happens once the workout is finished. After a strictly cardiovascular workout, it doesn't take very much time for your metabolism to get back to 'idling speed'. But following an HIIT workout, you'll find that your basic metabolic rate stays elevated for hours afterward.

I'm not saying your metabolism stays at 'during exercise' levels, but it will remain at a 'fat burning' high idle.

A Bit Of Personal Experience To Share

After the 1984 Olympic marathon trials in Buffalo, New York, I hung up my racing shoes and redirected my focus to my budding Chiropractic practice. Of course I didn't give up exercise completely, but my runs were now comprised exclusively of long, slow distance. Gone were the days of high intensity intervals.

What I noticed was that my weight was inching up over the course of several years. It seemed discouraging to continue to run 10 mile runs and still slowly gain weight. But when my kids got old enough to start running competitively, I rediscovered 'intervals' as I trained with them.

What we'd always used for turbo-charging our conditioning was also magic when it came to melting off fat. That's because the fat burning furnace continued to smolder long after the workout was completed.

Give High Intensity Interval Training A Try

So, if you're looking to add that extra 'kick' to your fitness program, without adding extra minutes or hours, exercising 'hard-easy-hard-easy' is a very efficient way to spend your workout time.

Because your metabolism remains elevated for hours after the HIIT workout has ended, you'll still be burning off fat when you're sitting on the sofa, watching football and patting yourself on the back for a 'workout well done'.

About the author: Dr. Ron Fritzke reviews cycling gear on his site, spending a lot of time evaluating the best bicycle trainers on the market. Besides his private Chiropractic practice, he's on the Sports Medicine team at the College of the Siskiyous. A former 2:17 marathon runner, he now races his bike in Northern California.


I believe HIIT is the best method for fat-loss AND conditioning both. Nothing challenges your VO2 max development and revs up your metabolic rate better.

I've consistently used various forms of HIIT (from just running on the road/ doing hill sprints to Kenneth Jay's Viking Warrior Conditioning kettlebell protocol) and I enjoy the results I receive from it, regardless of what specific exercise modality is used.

Good article.

siskiyou's picture

Have a question or comment?

A big thanks to Matthew for publishing my article. If anyone has any questions or comments regarding HIIT, don't hesitate to leave them...I'll respond as quickly as I'm able to.

Ron Fritzke

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