High Intensity Interval Training: The 4-Minute Workout

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Is getting fit as easy a 4 minute workout? With high intensity interval training it could be!

High-Intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of training that involves high-intensity exercise for short bursts followed by short rests. Think sprinting for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds and repeating for 5 minutes. It has become more and more popular because a multitude of studies have been done showing it's effectiveness in weight loss.

The reason HIIT is so good for weight loss is from something known as EPOC. This is Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Basically, when you are performing at maximum exertion your heart is using oxygen faster than you can breathe it in so you end up with a deficit. This means after you finish you unknowingly breathe deeper to replenish what was lost. This extra oxygen then makes your body think you are still working hard and need fuel, so it breaks down your fat and turns it into a fatty acid which is act as your fuel causing you to lose weight.

It depends on how long your workout was but this effect can last up to 38 hours after you finish working out!

You can begin in as little as 4-minutes!

Tabata sets are a type of HIIT that originated in the 90s from a professor Izumi Tabata who performed a study involving Olympic speed skaters. From this came the Tabata set. 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest 8 times (for 4 minutes).

So if it's as easy as 4 minutes? Why isn't everyone doing it!

Because it is hard.

Really hard. When itIs getting fit as easy a 4 minute workout? With high intensity interval training it could be! got to the end of a parkour class nothing put the fear in you like the words Tabata sets. That said I am currently doing one a day for two weeks! To see if 4 minutes a day is all you need to increase your fitness. It should be noted that I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to fitness, and Tabata sets are not for faint hearted. The plus side it is it only takes 4 minutes and you can do it anywhere!

One of the downsides is that a lot of the studies that have been done were originally intended for professional athletes. Not to say they won't be effective for everyday people but it may be wise to build up a base level of fitness before diving into the realms of HIIT.

HIIT training gets incorporated into weight training quite often but that is not where my expertise lies and bodybuilding.com did a great run down of weighted exercises so if you're interested it is well worth a look here.


You are unlikely to find a class called High-Intensity Interval Training but a lot of classes use HIIT. Classes like Body Pump and Body Attack use HIIT and most other classes branded by Les Mills. Then you also get spinning classes and even classes that use the Insanity workout.

Due to HIIT workouts being very difficult one of the best way to feel all the great benefits of it is to join a class. If you are a driven and motivated person and want to do it at home awesome! I do, and the from the sweat I break I know I am working hard enough.

The main feature of all these classes is that they are cardio based, even body pump which uses weights focuses on smaller weights with more repetitions. This is because you get all the great benefits when your heart rate is high and your heart rate tends to get highest when you are doing cardio based exercise.

If you are creating your own work out using HIIT personally I would use body weight and movement based exercises. So focus on running, skipping, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, those types of exercise.


A while ago I tried the 100 press up challenge. This was a 6-week program which resulted in the ability to do 100 consecutive press-ups - this is the site if anyone is interested http://hundredpushups.com/index.html. I actually did this program twice. the first time I was young and stupid and decided I didn't need a rest day! I pulled a muscle in my neck... So next time around, a year or two later, I was sure to take my rest days and manage to complete 100 press ups after the 6 weeks.

Then my still youthful ignorance came in, I stopped practising and my personal best dropped all the way back again. Sigh. But learning and moving on is the way forward, no point dwelling on the past 

The point is, I was able to ramp up my personal best at push ups so quickly because the program I followed used interval training. You did your set of push ups had a short rest and then repeated for 5 sets. 

So if you are up to the challenge definitely incorporate HIIT into your routine, be it your exercise routine or just you're weekly round the house routine! You are more or less guaranteed great results.

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