Interval Training - What, Why, How

Interval training of some type makes an appearance in many of my one-to-one sessions as well as my own workouts and I often get asked about the whys and what-fors. I like to make clients aware of why I’m training them in a certain why so I decided to explain in this blog what HIIT (high intensity interval training) is, why I use this method of training so much, and how it can benefit you.

HIIT is simply a combination of short bursts of intense activity combined with periods of lower intensity activity, which could be the same exercise performed slower, or complete rest. For example, 30 seconds of movement paired with 15 seconds of rest. You can create all manner of different time and rep combinations, as well as increasing or decreasing rest times as you move further into the workout. You can also combine weighted moves with cardio, and make a circuit as long or as short as you like. The world really is your oyster when it comes to interval training.

Using HIIT training one-to-one with a client is good for many reasons – the short bursts of exercise increase fitness faster than lower-intensity exercise and because the work periods are more intense the efficiency of the workout is vastly improved.  I find the rest periods give clients time to mentally prepare for the work periods and really push themselves for the next interval. Because there are so many variations to try, HIIT is a good way to keep clients motivated and make sure they don’t get bored. For clients working on muscular endurance, adding in strength-based exercises is a reliable way to see the physical changes one may be striving for.

The benefits of HIIT are endless. At a base level, aerobic training will increase your cardiovascular fitness and give you a healthier heart and circulatory system. The short, sharp work periods burn calories at an accelerated rate and there are studies to prove that you keep on burning them long after you’ve finished your work out. Endurance will improve as a result of fat-loss and improved cardiac output. Finally, and in my opinion most interestingly, because of the increase in blood pressure during the work periods, the flexibility and elasticity of your arteries and veins improves too. Imagine a balloon – you could blow it up in one breath, or you could keep letting air in and out of it until it becomes more malleable and can hold a much greater amount of air.  I LOVE BALLOONS! And HIIT. 


We’ve spent pretty much all of 2015 reminding ourselves and each other of the positive feelings associated with exercise. Why we should do it, when we should do it, why we shouldn’t not do it. Any one familiar with the saying ‘The only workout you’ll regret is the one you didn’t do’? And then there’s my favourite of these passive-aggressive ‘motivational’ soundbites – ‘No Excuses’.

I admit it – I’m guilty of using this dirty little hash-tag. There are so many of these and others like it (#nodaysoff, #neverquit etc) but I’m fairly certain that you, like me, have gotten pretty bored of one too many shredded fitness models telling me that I’m weak and feeble because a hangover, torrential rain or some quality time with my friends and family take precedent over a workout.

The fact is, if I myself have the odd excuse not to exercise, I can’t tell my clients that they can’t have their own. There are plenty of reasons you might decide not to push yourself into a workout – illness, fatigue, injury, muscle pain. You might have family commitments which leave you without any time to workout – mums in particular seem to be an easy target for fitness professionals who think that there is #noexcuse for finding time in the day to burn calories. Only YOU know what your body, your time and your energy can fit in and there’s no place for anyone who tells you that your excuses don’t matter.

On the flipside – I wouldn’t be any good at my job if I encouraged people to excuse themselves out of getting fit over and over again. You know when you’ve run out of reasons for starting to take better care of yourself, and when you reach that point, I’m here for you.  You’ll be #betterforit – now there’s a hashtag I think we can all get on board with!