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hiitWith packed schedules, most of us aim to get the greatest bang for our buck from workouts. One way to maximize efficiency and effectiveness is through high intensity interval training (HIIT), which has recently become increasingly popular.

HIIT involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise alternating with longer periods of lower to moderate intensity. There are a variety of ways to perform high intensity interval training in terms of different exercises and various interval durations, but all require maximum effort – not just a higher heart rate – during the work interval.

For all the discomfort you may feel during HIIT, it delivers big payoffs, such as:

  • Increased caloric expenditure during the exercise session as well as up to 24 hours afterward
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance and anaerobic conditioning
  • Metabolic adaptations that encourage using more fat as fuel
  • Appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss (compared to traditional steady-state cardio)

Because of its demands on the body, HIIT is not recommended for beginning exercisers, people with cardiovascular issues or those with any other health issues that may limit physical exertion. However, for regular exercisers, HIIT is a super way to kick-start progress and boost fitness level.

A convenient way to perform HIIT on an Octane Fitness elliptical machine is CROSS CiRCUIT, which combines cardio intervals on the elliptical with strength sessions on the floor for a total-body blast. You set your duration levels, such as 3 minutes of cardio for every 30 seconds to one minute (or 10-30 repetitions) of a high-intensity strength exercise, and you choose your exercises with body weight, dumbbells, barbells, Octane’s Powerbands or stability balls.

In this example, after warming up, you perform three minutes of cardio at 70-85% of your maximum heart rate; then execute your first strength set with weighted squats, lunges, crunches, push-ups, clean and press, deadlifts or whatever exercise you choose. Octane provides various workout templates and numerous exercise recommendations to keep you moving. Remember, for HIIT, this interval must be maximum intensity, which requires a heavy weight, rapid execution or explosive power. You want to push yourself as hard as you can.

Then return to the elliptical for recovery at 65-70% of your maximum heart rate; followed by another strength burst. Repeat this pattern for the duration of your workout. If you find that you can’t adequately recover during the cardio periods, you may need to shorten your strength sessions and/or lengthen your cardio intervals. You are in control of the workout design and can modify it as necessary or to create different regimens for variety.

While HIIT is effective, it should not be your only workout. For best results, incorporate HIIT into your fitness regimen once or twice weekly, and keep up your steady-state aerobic exercise and traditional strength training workouts.