What is HIIT?
The HIIT protocol.
The 4 Minute Max Outs utilises the HIIT protocol along with calisthenics to great effect, and in a way that you can easily adapt to your own personal needs and requirements.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a training protocol that is essentially an enhanced form of interval training that alternates periods of short high intensity anaerobic exercise with short low or zero intensity recovery periods. The idea is that you repeatedly push yourself as hard and fast as you can for a short period of time, then stop for just enough time to recover so that you can do it all over again. HIIT can be performed in a multitude of different ways, and target cardio, strength, or both. The amount of rest time needed whilst performing HIIT will differ depending on your own level of fitness.
As such, HIIT is also commonly referred to as sprint training when applied to running or cycling, metabolic training when applied to compound weight lifts, or rest based training (RBT) when the focus is on individual recovery duration (a concept not exclusive to HIIT by any stretch of the imagination - it has been used by weight lifters to great effect for generations). You may even hear HIIT being billed as hormonal weight loss training. At the end of the day, they are all basically different perspectives on or ways of utilising, employing, or packaging and selling, the HIIT protocol. Whatever you want to call it or package it as to consumers, the underlying processes are all the same. Basically however you apply it, HIIT involves repetitions of high intensity output for a short period of time followed by a short recovery period to enable high intensity output once again.
What does HIIT do?
HIIT raises your metabolic rate massively by burning a lot of calories in a short period of time and continues to burn calories even when at rest over the following 24 hours with EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption). HIIT stimulates increased hormonal release of testosterone and growth hormone that both encourage muscle protein synthesis helping to promote fat loss above muscle loss when losing weight in a calorie deficit, and accelerating muscle growth in a smaller calorie deficit / calorie surplus. HIIT also stimulates the hormonal release of epinephrine (adrenaline) that further raises your metabolic rate, boosts performance during exercise, and mobilises fat stores for energy use, again, potentially promoting the use of fat over muscle tissue during weight loss. The word 'potentially' is used as fat to muscle ratio loss also always depends on the way HIIT is employed, the intensity and duration you put in, how often you do it, and on what you are eating. It's always important to remember that fat burn is primarily a result of the balance of daily expenditure over time, rather than the fuel utilised inside of a workout. For best results from HIIT, it should be done frequently on a balanced calorie controlled diet. As said, there are no magic tricks here. Although the results form HIIT are amazing, make no mistake, you still have to earn them. HIIT is hard work. If it's not, you're not pushing yourself hard enough.
In other words, what all this really means in practical terms is, and how it will apply to you and your efforts is, when applied right HIIT enables you to retain and even build muscle mass whilst increasing the percentage of body fat lost when losing weight. And what this basically means is that HIIT gets great results, fast. No matter what alias of HIIT you are working out under, however new age or revolutionary you may be sold the concept as, the inescapable truth of HIIT is that if you want results you have to earn them the good old fashioned traditional way. Through hard hard work. There are no magic tricks or easy options with HIIT, but there are undeniably great fast results to be earned for those who are prepared to put in the work to get them.
HIIT gets and keeps your heart rate ticking over in the 'maximum cardio benefit zone' for the duration of your workout. By combining mixtures of speed, strength, and power calisthenics moves, interlaced with short recovery breaks, HIIT routines are able to stimulate the metabolic processes that promote vastly improved insulin sensitivity, fat burn, athletic ability, muscle growth and muscle tone over any other form of cardiovascular training. Unlike steady state cardio, a good HIIT routine greatly improves both the aerobic and anaerobic systems in every session and in a much shorter space of time, and from having to train less times a week. Although the theory behind HIIT sounds unbelievable, the results of HIIT from real life people whether in scientific tests (some of which are summarised at the bottom of the page) or everyday life really do speak for themselves. The evidence that is irrefutable is, that HIIT gets great results. Whether you are training for endurance, strength, speed, power, bulking up, general fitness, performance, or burning fat and toning up, there is a place for HIIT to improve results in every training routine.
HIITs place in the exercise spectrum.
The image below shows HIITs place in the exercise spectrum to give you a better idea of where it fits in at the crossover between endurance and resistance training. Being at the crossover is what enables HIIT to stimulate both strong anaerobic/muscle benefits and maximal aerobic/cardio benefits in such a compressed space of time. As such, the most effective HIIT routines should include speed, strength and power moves that can engage your entire body and rapidly switch focus to enable you to stay in sprint mode for as long as possible. It is not just a case of moving around really fast.
HIIT combined with calisthenics creates a total body conditioning programme.
It shows that HIIT is essentially an all round conditioning workout protocol that, even if done on its own as the sole form of exercise, will significantly improve all round fitness and health in under 30 minutes a day. Doing HIIT you know you have all the health bases covered and will see excellent fat burning and muscle tone results along with good muscular strength increases, with no equipment needed at all, very little space required to do it, and all in under 30 minutes a day. No other workout protocol can come close to boasting the same portability, accessibility, health improvements and aerobic and anaerobic benefits in such a compact space of time. So in this respect believe the hype that surrounds HIIT. This is why HIIT combined with calisthenics is the most popular choice for home and portable workouts. Basically, it requires no equipment at all and it really does work. Fast.
HIIT can be used to augment other training methods.
HIIT can also be interspersed in between or alongside maximal endurance and maximal resistance training to augment the benefits of each training type to get improved results from both. However, the key word there is 'augment'. Although HIIT will enable you to get much better, faster, results from each when incorporated into a fitness schedule, HIIT is in no way a replacement for obtaining maximal results from either resistance training or endurance training. Basically, if you want to run a marathon, you are still going to need to go out on those long slow runs. If you want to build tons of shirt ripping muscle mass, it's still a good idea to lift heavy weights. Otherwise you won't be training as efficiently as you can for your goals. HIIT won't transform you into Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mo Farah on it's own if that's your goal. You will need to invest far more than 30 minutes a night if that's your aim! However, for the vast majority of people, HIIT will get you amazing results in a short period of time. And HIIT performed alongside these training methods, will help you to obtain better, faster results in both.
So, if your goal is to become the absolute biggest or run for the longest, properly focused HIIT, is not intended to be a replacement to your training, but incorporated into your schedule will help you to achieve these results faster. Arnie advocated the benefits of sprints for muscle growth. Farah does sprint laps during training to obtain 'maximum cardio benefit'. If, and this is the category that the vast majority of the population will fall into, you are not looking to grow phenomenal muscle mass or to run a marathon every month, and your health goals are more about getting in amazing shape fast, burning fat and toning up with good muscle growth, whilst improving your all round health, strength, and looks, then performing a good calisthenics HIIT routine alone will more than satisfy your fitness goals. More over, it can achieve them more affordably, and in much less time per day, from the comfort of your own home. What ever your aim, HIIT gets results fast. It should have a place in every training programme.
The 4 Minute Max Outs.
The 4 Minute Max Outs is a no equipment needed collection of HIIT calisthenics (bodyweight) moves that have been strategically packaged into a large variety of modular and dual focused 4 minute interval circuits known as Max Outs. Max Outs make it very easy to create your own custom HIIT workouts of the duration, focus and intensity that you require. And you can do them anywhere anytime. There are also plenty of focused Max Out Plans you can do right out of the box, either as part of the focused Max Out Schedules to get the results you want fast, or on their own as isolated workouts. With their modular dual focus, you can integrate individual Max Outs into your current workout schedules to augment results or you can stack them up and mix them up to use them as a varied complete total body conditioning exercise plan. The 4 Minute Max Outs will get you fit, strong, toned, and healthy, and in the best shape of your life, in under 30 minutes a night, and all from the comfort of your own home. It's smart.
Benefits of HIIT.
HIIT improves both your aerobic and anaerobic systems.
HIIT is the best way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and heart.
HIIT can improve your insulin sensitivity.
HIIT can improve your glucose tolerance.
HIIT can lower your heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol.
HIIT can make you stronger, fitter and faster.
HIIT can lower your body fat significantly.
HIIT can make your muscles stronger, leaner, and visibly more toned.
HIIT can make you exercise smarter.
HIIT can save you time and money.
Why is HIIT so effective?
HIIT is accessible.
HIIT is a form of exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime. And you can get it done with the results to show for it in half the time of other forms of exercise. You can do it at home, at work, at school, in the park. It requires no equipment and can be done by anyone, any age, any gender. It doesn't require a gym membership or a huge amount of space to do. You can do it in the comfort of your own home. The intensity is determined purely by your own ability, so as long as you do the best you can do, you will get the best results that you can achieve. It's is always progressive because as you get fitter, your intensity increases, so the workouts will always remain challenging. A form of exercise can be as efficient as it likes, but if it's not accessible to you, that is you don't have the equipment, time, space, or knowledge to get it done, then it is essentially useless to you. HIIT is the most accessible all round total body conditioning form of exercise there is. Anyone can do it and it gets excellent all round results for your body and overall health. Fast.
Cardio ability and general health.
HIIT is incredibly effective for improving your all round cardio ability as it will elevate your heart rate into the aptly named 'maximum cardio benefit zone' at over 70% HRmax for the duration of each workout. In this zone your lungs, heart, and circulatory system will all be working overdrive to get blood, oxygen and nutrients to where they are most required. Repeating the process of pushing your cardio system to the limit before allowing a short recovery stimulates improvement of the cardio system by forcing it to adapt to the overload. As you get fitter, you push harder, meaning the overload always progresses. As with your muscles, it's progressive overload followed by rest and adaptation that improves your cardio system. With HIIT, you should find over time that your standing heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol all reduce. This will be boosted further if there is a reduction in visceral body fat from the HIIT. Your insulin sensitivity should also improve as your body becomes more efficient at storing and rapidly utilising glycogen. Again this should be boosted further if there is a reduction in visceral body fat from the HIIT.
HIIT is incredibly effective for fat burn. HIIT has a very high calorie burn relative to the duration of exercise performed and keeps on burning calories for 24 hours after your workout has ended. HIIT not only actively burns more calories than other forms of exercise in the time performed, but also raises your natural metabolic rate making it much easier to create and sustain the healthy calorie deficit required to lose weight and burn fat. HIIT stimulates increased production of testosterone and growth hormone that both help to promote muscle synthesis helping to potentially favour fat burn over muscle loss when losing weight over time. HIIT also produces increased levels of epinephrine (adrenaline) that gives an additional performance boost to enable you to burn even more calories, and mobilises fat stores for energy use, again, helping to potentially favour fat burn over muscle loss when losing weight over time. As weight loss is primarily a result of the balance of daily energy expenditure, that is, it is a result of calories in versus calories out over time rather than fuel utilised in a workout, HIIT is best performed frequently on a balanced calorie controlled diet. As said, there are no magic tricks here. You still have to earn the results from HIIT.
HIIT elevates your heart rate into the maximum cardio benefit zone in each workout, that is it raises it above 70% HRmax. At around 65% HRmax has been shown to be the point where your body uses both the highest percentage and highest absolute amount of fat as fuel, giving it the name 'maximum fat burn zone'. This is misleading, as while it may be technically true for that moment in time in relation to energy used by your body for fuel, fat loss over time is not just a result of what is used for fuel inside of a workout.
Where the misguided wisdom of 65% HRmax applying the 'maximum fat burn zone' to losing wieght was floored, was the assumption that the fuel used to power a workout is the main cause of overall body fat loss. Just as muscle is built after a workout and not during, so too is the vast majority of fat burnt after a workout, and not during. Caring about how much fat is burned during exercise itself is as academic as worrying about how much muscle is built during exercise. Fat burn is a result of the balance of daily energy expenditure and not simply the actual fuel oxidized during exercise. That is, it is a result of calories in versus calories out. If you want to burn fat, you need to ensure that your body burns more calories than it consumes. This forces your body to break down fat and or muscle to reduce your size and release energy in the process. One of the aims of exercise is to maximise the amount of body fat burned and minimise the amount of muscle tissue lost when losing weight. Depending on how it is done, HIIT can do this to a far greater extent than steady state cardio.
As so many more calories are burnt up as increased blood sugar usage rapidly accelerates in the maximum cardio benefit zone above 70% HRmax, working out for the same duration of time at over 70% HRmax will result in far greater potential fat burn over time than working out at 65% HRmax. The word 'potential' is used as obviously it is dependant on your diet too. So when it comes to losing weight, the more calories expended from the exercise the better, and continuous maximum intensity is the key to this, not striving for 65% HRmax.
And then there is the practical application of these heart rates. It is very hard to accurately gauge when you are performing at exactly 65% HRmax let alone maintaining that steady pace. If you are performing at less, as many people on treadmills or running in the street inevitably will be, the academic level of fat burned as fuel will be lower and, the crucially important for fat loss total amount of calories burnt, will also be lower. Contrastingly, it is very easy to know when you are operating at over 70% HRmax as you are sprinting and will tire very rapidly and need a short rest to recover. As your intensity peaks at say 95% HRmax, although the academic amount of fat used as fuel does drop, the amount of blood sugar used, and therefore the crucially important for fat loss, total amount of calories burned, sky rockets.
So in other words, if you can sustain your workout in the maximum cardio benefit zone above 70% HRmax you will burn much more calories and therefore over time much more fat than the same length workout at 65% HRmax and lower. The fact that slightly less fat will have been utilised as fuel for the exercise is irrelevant to the vast difference in overall calories burnt over the same time period. Combine that with the fact that most joggers and people on cardio machines going for long slow runs will probably be under 65% HRmax most of the time and people doing HIIT may well be pushing 95% HRmax a lot of the time, and you're a long way there in explaining just how HIIT can burn the same amount of calories in half the time of steady state cardio.
High intensity exercise also creates an 'oxygen debt' that the body recovers in the 24 hours after the workout. This can be demonstrated by running up a few flights of stairs. On the way up your breathing becomes laboured. Once you reach the top and stop, your breathing suddenly becomes much more laboured as your body recovers the 'oxygen debt'. This metabolic process is termed EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). The greater the workout intensity and length, the greater the EPOC, meaning your basic metabolic rate will be raised and your body will keep burning many more calories via EPOC over the following 24 hours. Steady state cardio, such as jogging and cycling does not produce this magnitude of afterburn effect, making HIIT incredibly more efficient for burning calories, and therefore potentially body fat, than steady state cardio performed for the same duration of exercise time.
HIIT also stimulates greater production of testosterone and growth hormone that both promote muscle synthesis. This assists preventing the catabolic processes that break down muscle tissue for energy when losing weight, particularly when the HIIT routine also contains lots of strength moves. Or in other words, HIIT can promote a greater percentage fat burn in the fat to muscle loss ratio when losing weight.
Muscle tone and growth.
HIIT in general is very effective for muscle toning and moderate muscle growth as it has been shown to stimulate increases in the growth hormone and testosterone which accelerate the building of muscle. HIIT routines with focused strength moves that will bring your muscles to failure before a short rest, as traditional resistance training does, increase the potential for muscle adaptation and further growth. The metabolic adaptations that take place in the skeletal muscle in response to HIIT also appear to favour the process of oxidising fat over breaking down muscle tissue when losing weight. So combining the calorie burning, fat loss, muscle toning and shaping benefits of HIIT, the moderate muscle growth obtained from HIIT often has the added benefit of visually looking much more pronounced than it already is.
Who is HIIT for?
HIIT is suitable for persons of any age and gender to partake in, although you should always get your health checked out by a doctor before you undertake any kind of strenuous exercise.
The 4 Minute Max Outs contains several adaptable HIIT routines that are suitable for persons of any age and gender to partake in provided they have the will to do it. Hard as it is, so long as you do the best you can do each time, you will improve each time as you get fitter. As the Max Outs use groupings of calisthenics moves focused for strength, speed or power, they utilise your own body weight, and so require no equipment at all. They can be very easily stacked and customised in 4 minute blocks to create the length and focus of workout you need or have time for. They are perfectly accessible to everyone whether it be :-
Those that need a portable flexible total body workout that will get amazing results fast.
Those that need a portable workout that can be done anytime, anyplace, and by any one, and with no equipment required.
Those wishing to get fit. Fast.
Those wishing to lose weight and tone up. Fast.
Those wishing to improve strength and agility using just their bodyweight.
Those that want to save time and money getting fit.
Those that have a restricted space to workout in.
Those that want to go for a variety of all out challenging killer HIIT sessions right out of the box.
Those wishing to build up their HIIT sessions gradually.
Those wishing to build up their strength sessions gradually.
Those not comfortable initially with pushing their heart rate for up to 30 minutes on day one.
Those who cant wait to push their heart rate to the limit for 30 minutes on day one!
Those wishing to improve their insulin sensitivity.
Those wanting to add short HIIT bursts to their existing workouts.
Those wanting to add strength moves to their workouts that will utilise many more muscle fibres.
Those looking to add variety to their current workouts.
Those that need to mix things up to break plateaus.
Those that want to add focus to their HIIT sessions.
Those wishing to do HIIT around injury.
Those who want the flexibility to create their own custom HIIT and or calisthenic strength sessions.
Those that want an affordable HIIT plan that really works.
Those that can't afford a gym membership.
Those that want to vary up their training routines.
Those that want a new training routine.
Even those that have never done exercise before.
Basically, whoever your are, and whatever level of fitness you are at, you can benefit hugely from The 4 Minute Max Outs.
What should I eat whilst doing HIIT?
How dedicated are you?
Generally speaking, you can do HIIT routines, such as The 4 Minute Max Outs, on any diet and still see big results compared to if you didn't do it at all.
Whatever you are eating, you will still receive huge benefits as you will be working out in the maximum cardio benefit zone. In this heart rate zone you will be utilising the maximum amount of energy from your body and burning the maximum amount of calories in the time worked as well as generating a large calorie burning afterburn effect for the next 24 hours. Obviously the benefits will be vastly superior if you eat a balanced diet at the same time and eat right for your goal. For instance, if your aim is to lose weight, you will still need to create a healthy calorie deficit in your diet to make sure you burn off more energy than you consume. If your aim is to obtain the best visible body changing results that others will be in awe of, and in the shortest length of time, then be under no illusion that diet is paramount. To help you with this, the handy diet guide provides you with a very quick and approximate easy place to start with portion sizes and food types to make up a balanced diet that is suitable for intensive exercise. To fine tune this a bit more, the nutrition calculator can give you tailored food ratios, relevant to your calorie goal, fitness aims and personal preferences. The dieting guide and food guide and all the other sections in the 'Eat Well' section of this website provide a wealth of information to help you with this.
Basically, what you need to eat depends on your end goal and how dedicated and determined you are to achieving it.
Whatever your goal, do the best you can and the results will reflect your effort. You will always benefit from doing it over not doing it at all. That is the beauty of HIIT routines such as The 4 Minute Max Outs. Either way, you will be improving your cardio ability massively and using considerably more energy in your body than you ever were before, taking important steps to reducing your heart rate, improving your circulation, and improving your insulin sensitivity. Eat well at the same time, and you'll get that slim toned body you were always after. Fast!
A Brief History of HIIT
The first accreditations to the style of training seem to go to Swedish coach GĂ¶sta HolmĂ©r. HolmĂ©r developed fartlek in 1937 as an answer to Finland continuously beating Sweden at cross country running. Fartlek means 'speed play' and the key HIIT part of the athletes training had them repeatedly running full on sprints of about 50 to 60 metres followed by a short period of easy running to recover. It did the trick. Sweden finally started to beat Finland.
1970s Coe & Coe.
In the 1970s athletics coach Peter Coe used HIIT to train his son Sebastian Coe by getting him to do repeated sets of a fast 200 metre run followed by a 30 second recovery. Seb Coe went on to win four Olympic medals, including the 1500 metres gold medal at the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games. In 1979, he broke three world records inside of 41 days and the world record he set in the 800 metres in 1981 remained unbroken for 16 years until 1997.
1994 Tremblay, Simoneau, and Bouchard.
In 1994, Tremblay, Simoneau, and Bouchard studied the impact of exercise intensity on body fat and skeletal muscle metabolism. Group 1 did steady state cardio for 20 weeks, whilst group 2 did a HIIT program for 15 weeks. The results showed that even though the steady state cardio group burned 48% more calories than the HIIT group over the exercises, the HIIT group saw an incredible 9 times greater loss in subcutaneous fat. So the HIIT group trained for 5 weeks less than the steady state cardio group, had shorter workouts, and yet far exceeded the steady state cardio group in fat burn. This suggests the HIIT group experienced a strong metabolic EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect.
In 1996, Professor Izumi Tabata created the Tabata Protocol. The Tabata Protocol is a 4 minute workout consisting of 8 cycles of 20 seconds high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds rest. Originally the training was done on a static bike with Olympic speed skaters. Training for less time per week, the Tabata group saw greater improvements in VO2max than their colleagues that did not perform the protocol. The Tabata group also gained anaerobic capacity benefits that their colleagues did not.
2008 Trapp, Chisholm, Freund & Boutcher.
In 2008, Trapp, Chisholm, Freund & Boutcher found that in young women, HIIT three times per week for 15 weeks showed significantly better reductions in total body fat, leg and trunk fat, and insulin sensitivity, than when doing the same frequency of steady state cardio.
In 2008 Professor Martin Gibala demonstrated 2.5 hours of sprint interval training produced similar biochemical muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training and similar endurance performance benefits.
In 2009, Professor Martin Gibala and his team at McMaster University in Canada, had students on static exercise bikes doing 8 to 12 cycles, of 60 seconds intensive exercise followed by 75 seconds of rest. Training just 3 times per week, the students, saw gains on par with subjects who did longer steady state cycling training five times per week.
2009 Driller, Fell, Gregory, Shing & Williams.
In 2009 study by Driller, Fell, Gregory, Shing, & Williams showed an 8.2 second improvement in 2000m rowing time following 4 weeks of HIIT in well-trained rowers. This equates to a significant 2% improvement after just 7 interval-training sessions. The interval-training used by Driller and colleagues involved eight 2.5 minute work bouts, separated by individualised recovery intervals.
In 2011, Gibala's group published a less intense version of their regimen intended as a gentler option for people who hadn't exercised for over a year. It comprised of 10 repetitions of 60 second bursts followed by 60 seconds of recovery. A 35% increase in both insulin sensitivity and muscle oxidative capacity was reported amongst seven sedentary people after just two weeks.
2012 Timmons & Mosley.
In February 2012, Professor Jamie Timmons, systems biology at the University of Loughborough, put Medical journalist Dr Michael J. Mosley on a HIIT exercise bike regimen. The experiment was filmed for a BBC Horizon programme. Mosley performed 3 sets whereby he peddled gently for 2 minutes followed by a 20 second maximum intensity cycling sprint. This was done three times a week, totaling just 3 minutes intensive exercise per week. Mosley's insulin sensitivity before he started his exercise regime was only just inside the levels for a healthy tolerance. By the end of the 4 week regimen, his insulin sensitivity had improved by a massive 24%.