20-minute workout: Understanding HIIT, Tabata and interval training

Interval Training

When most people think about carving workout times into their schedules, they think about adding at least an hour. In reality, if you have 10-20 minutes, you can get an excellent workout — regardless of whether you have time to go to the gym and regardless of what workout materials you have at home.

The key to getting a good workout in a short period of time is interval training. Interval training is recognized in the fitness industry by a variety of names, and a few of the more intense, faster-paced categories include high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Tabata.

These workout styles are effective because they operate on the same basic principle. Work as hard as you can for a short period of time (typically 20-60 seconds), take a short rest period, and then repeat several times.

These workouts are much shorter than other workouts, but don’t be fooled into thinking they aren’t effective. When you push yourself throughout interval training, you can burn as many calories and as much fat as you would during a longer, less-intense workout.

To put it in perspective, the four-minute Tabata workout has been described as “the most difficult four minutes of your life.” Another fitness website described the feeling you’ll have after completing a tough interval workout, “That thing you’re wiping off your face? That’s the floor.”

Here’s the catch: For interval training to be effective, you must push yourself. Hard. You should never think about saving some of your energy for the end of the workout. Every time you’re working, you should be giving the exercise 90 percent of your maximum. Your body should burn everywhere. If you’re running intervals, you should feel as though the last few seconds are just about impossible.

Now that you’re hooked on the idea of interval training, you’re probably interested in learning the specifics. Read Monday’s blog post to learn how long your resting and exercise periods should be, how many times you should repeat the exercise, and what exercises you should do.

Becky Spurbeck

2 Comments on “20-minute workout: Understanding HIIT, Tabata and interval training

  1. I am becoming a big fan of HIIT workouts. It is definitely a mental game as well as a physical game for me to push 90-100% but they feel great afterwards and I love that they free up more of my evenings!

    • Definitely a mental workout as well as a physical workout! Without the mental ability to push hard, HIIT loses a lot of its value. Glad you’re liking them.

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