Everything You Need To Know About High Intensity Interval Training

Plus, we include a High Intensity Interval Training program that will take you from beginner beer belly to advanced abs in just eight weeks.



Men get more benefit from sprint interval training than women, according to a study by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Although, both sexes experience a similar increase in aerobic capacity, men’s bodies produce more protein as a result of sprint interval exercise.

The study, published in the journal FASEB, looked at how three weeks of high intensity sprint training using a stationary bike affected the bodies of young men and women.

Related: The 3-Minute Hack to Improve Your HIIT Performance

“Just as we move into an era of personalised medicine, this report helps pave the way to personalised fitness,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal.” In fact, the two are really part of the same health spectrum: medicine usually fixes problems, and fitness usually prevents them.”

Welcome to the world of high intensity interval training (HIIT), where you build strength and lose weight in half the time of your normal gym session.

What Is It

Alternating bursts of lung-busting anaerobic exercise and active recovery periods. Sessions last between four and 20 minutes. These concentrated workouts pimp your fitness, metabolism and fat burning efficiency.

Related: Advice From One Of South Africa’s Strongest Men, Ettiene Smit

“HIIT is one of the best things you can do when looking for results in a short period of time,” says Jobst Olschewski, Level 2 Crossfit Coach and owner of Cape Crossfit.

What You Need

Time protocols. A HIIT session starts with a warm up period of exercise, followed by 6-10 reps of high-intensity exercise, separated by medium-intensity exercise, and ends with a period of cool down exercise.

The high-intensity exercise should be performed at near maximum effort, while the medium-intensity exercise should be done at 50% intensity. The goal is to complete a minimum of six sets. Johan Pretorious, Head Consultant at the high-performance centre at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa explains that “the Tabata method is the most frequently used protocol; and it definitely works.”

Related: This Man Went From The Verge Of A Heart Attack To Losing 20kg

The Benefits

“This particular technique works especially well for weight loss,” says Pretorious. The major reason that HIIT works so much better than continuous steady-state cardio in the quest to drop body fat, is due to the greater increase in resting metabolism following HIIT. “HIIT helps you to both gain muscle and lose weight, but it is more effective in aiding fat burning,” explains Olschewski.

Our research, however, suggests that HIIT can be just as effective as a muscle builder. A study in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that male subjects following a six-week HIIT programme, gained one kilogram of muscle – despite no weight-lifting during the program.

Tabata Method

The popular regimen based is on a 1996 study by Izumi Tabata. Do 20 seconds of ultra-intense (about 170% of VO2max), followed by 10 seconds rest. Repeat for four minutes (eight reps).

Related: Low Weight, High Reps v Lifting Heavy: You Won’t Believe The Results For Muscle Gain

The Beginner-To-Advanced Eight-Week HIIT Program

You can do these workouts using tools, such as a jump rope, stationery cycle, or simply sprint. Use your imagination. Just follow the work-to-rest intervals as indicated.

Weeks 1-2

15 seconds: High-intensity exercise.
60 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise.
Repeat another 10 times, followed by a final 15-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 14 minutes.

Weeks 3-4

30 seconds: High-intensity exercise.
60 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise.
Repeat another 10 times, followed by a final 30-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 17 min.

Weeks 5-6

30 seconds: High-intensity exercise.
30 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise.
Repeat another 11 times, followed by a final 30-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 18.5 minutes.

Weeks 7-8

30 seconds: High-intensity exercise.
15 seconds: Rest or low-intensity exercise.
Repeat another 25 times, followed by a final 30-second high-intensity blast.
Total time: 20 minutes.

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