Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to Build a HIIT Workout

What a day! I teach a 6:00AM HIIT class on Wednesday mornings, and today, I also subbed a 60-minute Spinning class. I don't normally bust out two major workouts in one day, but when you're the fitness director and coverage can't be found, you have to step up. So I stepped up. Two workouts, one day. And now I'm tired. But that's not a complaint because I absolutely love my job and my gym.

Today, inspired by my morning class, I want to talk about building a HIIT workout. If you're a fitness professional, this might be old news. But if you're an average awesome person who wants an at-home workout, hopefully I can help. Here's what we did this morning, which you can use (and then I'll break it down so you can build your own HIIT workout):

Take this high intensity interval workout with you to the gym. You'll work all your major muscle groups while increasing your heart rate.
Note: High intensity interval training is not for everyone. Please check with your doctor before you try anything new at the gym. If you give it a go, please listen to your body. While I am a certified fitness professional, I don't know you and thus cannot say whether or not this type of exercise is right for you. You get it, right?

Hight intensity interval training, at it's core, is a kick-butt type of workout that really challenges your muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. It can take on many shapes and forms, but in this case, for purposes of this post, we're going to focus on timed bouts of work, followed by brief breaks for rest.

To help you out as we break it down, I've put together this little worksheet. By the end of this post, you'll be able to fill in the blanks for your very own 30-minute HIIT workout:

Make a high intensity interval workout for your next trip to the gym. This worksheet will guide you.
I'll even tell you how to make it a 60-minute HIIT workout.
But, first thing's first.

How to Build a HIIT Workout

1) The Warmup
Theoretically, you could just jump right into your workout. And some people do. But—promise me you won't. A decent warmup gets your body ready for work. Cold muscles heat up. Oxygen flows to and through every system. Literally, you say "alright, body...let's do this." And it will respond. How long you warm up depends on how you feel, but I recommend at least five minutes. Preferably more, but when you're crunched for time, shoot for at least five. Good warmup ideas include:

• Running/Walking
• Jumping Rope
• Jumping Jacks
• [Insert cardio equipment of choice here]
• High Knees/Butt Kickers

Length of time? At least five minutes. Or break it down: 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off (during which you can shake your arms out to keep moving while you warm up your shoulders and arms).

2) HIIT Exercises (...and how to choose them)
Time for the guts of your workout. This is where you really have to think about what you're doing. Sounds daunting and hard, but it's really not. Think about your major muscle groups with a general perspective: You want to work your legs, your back, your chest, arms and abs, too. You also want to get some cardio in your HIIT workout. So what exercises will do that? As you can see in the worksheet above, you can hit (pardon the pun) all of these major muscle groups in five exercises.

Again, 45 seconds on...15 seconds of rest in between. This is how you keep your heart rate up. This is what makes it high intensity. And this is what you'll repeat three times through. (Note: If you want to make it a 60-minute workout, create two circuits, giving yourself a small break in between.) 

Now, where to find those exercises? Here are some potential sources:

Pinterest: Search "lower body exercises" or "HIIT exercises" or...well, whatever you want.
Greatist: This website curates a lot of exercise roundups.
• YouTube: Follow ACE, they always post great stuff.
• Blogs: Especially blogs that are written by fitness professionals (ahem).
• Magazines: I'm still obsessed with Oxygen.
• People at the gym, including the professionals. Spy on them, seriously.

Things to consider when you organize your workout:

• Whether or not you've hit all your muscle groups.
• Appropriateness of the exercises themselves with regards to your level of fitness.
• Whether or not you have access to any available equipment.

You might be thinking this: "But how do I know if it's right? Or if it'll work? How do fitness professionals know that the workouts they create are actually going to be awesome?"

Answer: The best you can do is, well...your best with regards to your own safety and physical needs. Then, try out your workout! At the end, make note of anything that works or doesn't work so you an adjust and progress accordingly next time around. As for fitness professionals and how they know whether or not their workouts will be awesome...well, we don't. We just use our knowledge and education to get damn close (and then we hope for the best).

3) The Cooldown
And here we are at the most important part of your workout. Especially when it comes to a HIIT workout. HIIT workouts elevate the heart rate, and it's very important to bring that heart rate back down again. If it's pumping especially hard, take some time to walk it out. Then, take some time to stretch. Traditional stretching, as in, hold a pose for 20-30 seconds without bouncing. Or do some easy yoga flow to stretch your muscles. However you like to stretch, do that.

No clue how to stretch? See "where to find those exercises" above.
Also good places to find ways to stretch your muscles.

4) Equipment
The very last thing you need to think about. What equipment do you have on hand? If you're at a gym, your options might be endless so maybe you don't need to think about this first. But if you're working out at home or somewhere else where your options are limited, lay out those options first and foremost. This will automatically eliminate a few exercise options, thus making it easier for you to build your workout.

Two pieces of equipment you will always need: A timer and a water bottle. #donteverforgetthese

Now, go. Have fun with your HIIT workout!
Any questions? I'm always here for you: tara (at) adailydoseoffit (dot) com.

Need to build up your home gym? Enter my $100 Kohl's Gift Card giveaway! Ends Friday, January 29, 2016 at Midnight EST. 

For more workout inspiration, check out the Wild Workout Wednesday linkup.
For more HIIT workouts, read: 11 Awesome HIIT Workouts

Question: How do you feel about building your own workouts? Where do you go for exercise ideas?

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