It’s fair to say there is no shortage of interval training programs doing the rounds in the fitness industry. Every year, we are exposed to more and more programs claiming to have the very best ‘work’ to ‘rest’ interval ratio. Some even go as far as to claim theirs is the ‘only’ right one. However, the truth is, there isn’t a perfect/best/ultimate interval length.
There are some guidelines pertaining to these bursts of intense exercise that will affect their overall efficiency. But, the only ‘golden rule’ of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is to keep it at the rate that will fit your personal needs best.
Why Does the Duration of the Interval Matter?
The duration of an interval in HIIT matters because it determines how intense the interval will be. If you train for 30-seconds bursts, you can pack more action into the interval than you would with five minutes. Similarly, the shorter is the rest interval, the more intense your workout session would be overall.
This means that you should set your intervals depending on your personal goals and current fitness level.
High-intensity interval training is incredible. It helps you burn off excess calories more efficiently than most other exercise. In addition, it makes your heart and blood vessels healthier while helping keep your blood sugar levels normal (Health US News). It also literally slows down the process of ageing (proven by this study). Therefore, no matter the type of HIIT you choose, this practice is sure to benefit you. So the main thing that matters for setting intervals is your goal.
When and Why You Should Use Short or Long Intervals
If your goal is weight loss, you should go with highly intense short intervals. These can be extremely short 8-10 seconds or extend to 30 seconds. When you advance, you might increase to one minute. However, this won’t make much of a difference for your actual fat burning effort.
What you need to remember, however, is that exercise alone won’t help you lose weight, no matter how effective it is (Daily Mail). In order to achieve your fitness results, you’ll need to adopt a healthy low-calorie diet and take right supplements. When you choose a product to benefit HIIT workouts, pick something with caffeine and capsaicin in it as these elements help boost the fat burning rate naturally. However, pick a product that will also help your diet and appetite control.
If your ultimate goal is to build up your stamina, like training for a marathon, triathlon, etc., long intervals will be best. These can last between 1-5 minutes. Note that longer intervals don’t have to be much more intense. On the contrary, the point of these is to teach you how to pace yourself.
HIIT is so effective because it can be adjusted to serve people with varying health and fitness levels. It’s good to push yourself a little during these workouts as that’s the point of exercise. However, you also need to listen to your body very carefully so you don’t push yourself too hard.
When you are just starting with HIIT, have about 10 sets of very short (8-10 seconds) to moderate (35-30 seconds) intervals per workout. If you feel you can do more, try it. However, be sure to cut down on the intensity depending on your body’s response.
Start and end every HIIT workout with stretching exercises. Overall, the length of such training session should be between 30-45 minutes.
Rest intervals for short and moderate intensity should be about ½ the work interval length. If you go for stamina training with long intervals, you can get more intensity overall by reducing the rest periods.
Monitor your heart rate when setting intervals for your training. All HIIT should be within the ‘aerobic heart rate zone’. Maintaining this level of intensity will allow you to enjoy the benefits of interval training without any health risks.