HIIT Training Questions and Answers

I get a ton of questions everyday about various things so I thought I would share some of the questions I get about HIIT training and maybe help out some other that may have the same questions.

Keith,

I have been doing this HIIT training that you talk about so much and it is really tough, but I am loving it. The question I have is just how hard should I be pushing myself when performing those intervals? Thanks.

-Ken S

Ken,

Great question and one I get a lot. Everyone is different and with that said, you need to use your judgement when doing the intervals. In the beginning, you should always start slow, getting your body used to the¬†intensity each time out. Without getting into numbers, taking heart rate, etc… A good rule of thumb would be exercise at a low to moderate level for the first few minutes, make sure you can carry on a conversation. In other words, if you are going so hard that you cannot talk, you are exercising too hard at this stage. If using a machine, note the RPM’s that you are around during this stage (active rest.) When it is time for you to go hard, make sure you are getting and keeping the RPM’s up around 10 to 15 higher than you had them when you were actively resting. You should notice a lot more discomfort and you should have trouble talking to someone if you were to do so. Take note of the RPM’s and remember it for future bouts. As the training session goes on, try to match and keep that number in the same area during your interval. As the weeks progress, both numbers will change (active rest and sprint.) You will be able to progress safely and stay in that anaerobic zone that you need to.

Keith,

I love your blog and read it everyday. I do have a question for you about HIIT training: Which piece of cardio equipment should I use at the gym to get the best effect? I like doing the Elliptical machine, but not sure if that is the best. If I am going to torture myself, I want to get the most out of it. Thanks for any help you can give.

-Sandy

Sandy,

If you are doing the intervals the right way, any piece of equipment will be effective, but I do have my own ideas on which is better. Believe it or not, the Elliptical is not the best choice out of the bunch in my opinion. The Elliptical machine is based on momentum, and even though you are using both upper and lower body, you are gliding and ultimately coasting to a degree. Even if you make it harder, you can still perform without much trouble. The stationary bike on the other hand is a much better piece of equipment for doing HIIT and you will get more from it. With the bike, you are using very large muscles in your lower body. The bigger the muscles used, the more of an effect you will get. To turn those pedals as fast as you can, you have to use your glutes to a degree and your large quads even more. This takes a huge toll on your body and will get you burning more and finally I believe you will actually see better results. Warning: The bike is much more difficult than doing the Elliptical, which could be why you see everyone at your gym on the Elliptical and very few people on the bikes.

Keith,

Is it better for me to lift weights before or after I do my “cardio” or HIIT sessions?

-Tom P.

Tom,

It is better to lift before you do your cardio and/or HIIT. You should always do strength training first when your body is fresh and you are not fatigued in any way. You want to be able to get the most out of your strength sessions and at the same time be fresh enough to do it safely. Besides, you will get a much better training effect if you do your HIIT immediately after you lift weights.

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