Skip to main content

What is HIIT? Really.


According to the American College of Sports Medicine, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been in the top 3-fitness trends for four years running – and you would have guessed it with HIIT being the buzz word being bandied about in numerous settings: boot-camps, PT sessions and even entire franchises based on the concept of HIIT.

But what is HIIT? Really.

We speak exclusively to Bryce Hastings, the Group Fitness Research and Operations Manager for Les Mills International: literally the brains behind the brawn and ask what the true definition of HIIT is:

“HIIT means we exercise at a maximum intensity (85%+ of VO2 or Max Heart Rate) for short bursts followed by a rest – this can be active or complete rest”

Hastings elaborates that the most common mistake when prescribing a HIIT workout is that people miss the importance of the second “I” for Interval, saying that they try to maintain high intensity for too long “the maximum time for a high intensity interval is around 4-minutes – anything beyond this makes it too hard to generate the spikes of maximum intensity”.

For a “regular” participant (defined here as someone who attends the gym for general fitness and not sport specific purposes), research indicates that if they add two HIIT workouts to their other cardio and strength training they could “double or triple” the training effect. Is there an “ideal” interval period? “There is no real ‘ideal’ interval. I think a mix is probably best – in Les Mills GRIT our intervals vary from 20-seconds up to three minutes”.

So what is Hastings favourite exercise to slot in a HIIT program? “I think squat burpees and tuck jumps are a great combo – squat burpees are great for total body conditioning maximising muscle recruitment and tuck jumps drive the heart rate to max without fail. Power intervals on a bike in Les Mills SPRINT are a great alternative for those that don’t want to jump”.

Get your fix of squat burpees, tuck jumps and power intervals at Q3 Workshops 2017.