HIIT – the perfect workout for busy people

Your schedule is packed; in fact, you’re almost at the point where you have to diarise time for bathroom breaks. You can’t possibly cram in time for an hour to workout – after all, there are only 24 hours in a day and you need to sleep for a few hours, at least.


Does this sound like you? Intrigued…?


What if I told you there was a workout that takes just twenty minutes, but with as much intensity and effectiveness as a full workout – would you be interested?


Welcome to your new favourite workout – High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short. This exercise strategy alternates periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, or intervals. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise.


HIIT sessions may vary from as little as four minutes, up to a pretty hardcore 30-minute sweat session. These short, intense workouts are amazing for improving athletic capacity and condition, glucose metabolism, and fat burning.


While steady-state cardio might be within your comfort zone, unlike HIIT it doesn’t elicit a hormonal response. The biggest benefit is the intensity coupled with short duration and rest intervals in between each group of exercises.


For example a 10-minute HIIT session, including moves such as burpees, jumping jacks and mountain climbers, will elicit the release of norepinephrine, epinephrine, growth hormone, and cortisol. This hormonal response breaks down fat to be used as fuel, along with different reserves of carbohydrates to be used as blood sugar during that activity. As you can see, these are powerful reasons to add some HIIT sessions into your fat-busting schedule. Most importantly, the exercises could be done anytime and anywhere. Start with a short HIIT session and increase the duration and intensity gradually until your body is conditioned for a longer duration.


Not sure how to get started? You could join a class, but that might not be possible with your busy schedule, so why not try a home workout first?


Karen’s sample HIIT workout (eight minutes)

1 minute of skipping in the air (skipping rope imitation)

1 minute of hopping medicine ball twist (focusing on abs and side oblique)

1 minute of jumping jacks

1 minute of mountain climbers


Of course, the variations are endless, so you can incorporate exercises you like and add in some more challenging moves as you get the hang of it. HIIT comes in three different levels; beginner, intermediate and advanced, so while it might not be for the faint-hearted, you can take it slow with modified movements if you need to.

PS: I have a 4 minute HIIT workout video here on the site. Do check it out!


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