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Workout of the Week

by Nicole Wilkes

Photography courtesy of BostonUFitRec on Instagram

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is comprised of periods of intense physical activity alongside periods of recovery. The intense work periods can be as short as five seconds long, a grueling eight minutes or anything in between. These time periods are performed at 80 percent to 95 percent of your maximal effort—you essentially go all-out. The recovery periods are typically performed at 40-50 percent of your maximal heart rate and are alternated with the high intensity work periods.


  • Prolonged metabolic rate increase—your metabolism often gets a boost during a workout, but HIIT is known to keep your metabolism up for hours after your session is over.

  • Improved oxygen consumption— this refers to how efficiently your muscles use oxygen.

  • Fat loss—High-intensity intervals can give you similar results to moderate aerobic/endurance exercise. Even better, you can use easily HIIT to target abdominal fat.

  • Reduced heart rate and blood pressure

  • It’s less of a time commitment than typical endurance workouts—studies have shown 20-minute HIIT sessions can be used to achieve the same results as 40-minutes of steady cardiovascular exercise.

  • No equipment needed—HIIT workouts usually consist of exclusively bodyweight exercises.

Before picking up a HIIT routine, it is recommended that you first establish what is often called a “base fitness level”. If you haven’t already, start by getting in 20-60 sessions of moderate-intensity cardio three to five days a week. It’s important to start with at least a few weeks of this routine in order to prevent any serious injury once you move on to HIIT.

It is also recommended that anyone new to HIIT starts out with only one HIIT workout a week, while incorporating other, more “steady state” workouts (endurance training, weight lifting, etc.) throughout the week. Over time, listen to your body and add another HIIT workout, making sure to spread them throughout the week to prevent excessive fatigue and injury.

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