This week we taught the participants how to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for their cardio workouts. This type of training is exactly how it sounds. After a 5 or 10 minute warm-up, you simply alternate higher intensity cardio intervals with lower intensity rest intervals.
There are many different ways to package your HIIT training. When working with someone new, I try to match the level of intensity to their individual fitness level. The first two examples are from actual Biggest Loser participants.
Relatively New Runner—one participant named Jennifer hadn’t had a lot of experience running, and the fastest she’d ever gone on the treadmill prior to the workout was 4.2 mph. After walking a quarter mile (400 meters), I had her start jogging at 4.0 mph for half a lap (200 meters). When she got halfway around the track on the display, I had her walk the other half lap at 3.0 mph to rest and recover.
Then she bumped up the speed to 4.2 mph (her previous fastest pace) for another half a lap on the display. Once she got halfway around again, she went back to walking for the rest of the lap. At the end of that quarter mile, she cranked it up to 4.4 mph for half a lap, followed by another half-lap of walking.
She was able to do another half lap at 4.6 mph, walked half a lap, and then another interval at 4.8 mph, followed by another half a lap of walking. Finally, she ground out a half lap at 5.0 mph, well faster than she’d ever gone prior to the workout. She said it was pretty tough, but she finished the workout. At the end, she did a quarter mile walk as a cool down.
Runner with Moderate Experience—another participant you’ve been reading about for several months was Nicole, who’s been running for the last few Biggest Losers, and has completed several 5 K (3.1 mile) races, running most of the way, with some walking every mile. Just the other day, she completed 3 miles consecutive running without having to walk at all!
Since she had more experience, we divided the workout differently. Instead of half a lap running and half a lap walking, we had her walk a quarter of the way around the display (100 meters), and jog three quarters (300 meters). Since she said she was comfortable running at 5.5 mph, we had her start at 5.0 mph.
Once she made it around the whole lap, she got to walk a quarter of the way around again before turning it up to 5.5 mph. After another walk break, she did the next ¾ lap at 6.0 mph, and then another at 6.5 mph, 7.0 mph, 7.5 mph, and then a final one at 8.0 mph—well faster than she ever thought she could go.
Again, the trick is doing harder intervals than you think you can do, followed by short breaks to let you catch your breath, get a drink, and wipe off the sweat! You’ll burn more calories in a shorter period of time, and stimulate all kinds of changes in your body.
These types of workouts have a much longer after-burn, which means you’ll burn more calories during the hours after the workout while your body is working to recover. It will also make your regular workouts easier.
I’ll even combine HIIT training with short runs and resistance training to make some very intense workouts. In the boot camp class held before the Biggest Loser workout, here’s the HIIT training that they did:
1. Run ¼ mile
2. 25 pull-ups
3. Run ¼ mile
4. 50 pushups
5. Run ¼ mile
6. 25 dumbbell curls (each arm)
7. Run ¼ mile
8. 25 kettle bell swings
9. Run ¼ mile
10. 25 floor-wipers (both sides)
11. Run ¼ mile
This week’s Biggest Loser was Jennifer Bell (from the first example above) who lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.6 lbs. With this type of HIIT training to add to her workout arsenal, I’m sure she’s going to continue to have success!