High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective exercises for athletes who want to improve their performance, especially runners. Adding HIIT workouts to your training plan will improve your sprinting ability and increase endurance. So what is HIIT? Let’s talk about the benefits and how to apply the three methods of HIIT to your treadmill workouts.

Key takeaways:
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    High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves multiple rounds of high-intensity movement at 80% of your maximum heart rate paired with shorter, timed, low-intensity movement for active recovery.
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    Three of the most popular methods of HIIT workouts are: Tababa, 30:30, and 30-20-10.
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    Benefits of HIIT include continuing to burn calories after the workout, increased muscle growth, and shorter workout length.
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    You can apply these HIIT methods to your treadmill workouts for maximum efficiency.

What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training is a type of exercise method that involves multiple rounds of high-intensity movement paired with a shorter, timed, low-intensity movement. During the high-intensity segments, the goal is to increase your heart rate to at least 80% of your maximum heart rate.

One quick and easy way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. This will give you your recommended beats per minute. Most smartwatches and heart rate monitors can track this for you. Next, calculate your recommended beats per minute and your 80% threshold. Aim for 80% to 100% during your high-intensity intervals. However, as you grow more serious about getting fit, you may want to consider measuring your VO2 max. This test will give you more precise measurements — but it needs to be conducted in a medical facility.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, there are three popular types of HIIT workouts:

  • Tabata. This workout is 20 seconds of work at your highest level of effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds;
  • 30:30 method. It involves 30 seconds of high-intensity work followed by 30 seconds of active recovery. Active recovery is a low-intensity exercise to increase the blood flow to your muscles. It will also flush out your body of metabolic waste, such as lactic acid. This is great for your recovery;
  • 30-20-10 model. This involves 30 seconds of low-intensity effort, followed by 20 seconds of moderate-intensity effort, followed by 10 seconds of high-intensity work.

Benefits of HIIT

High-intensity interval training is a form of anaerobic interval training. Anaerobic means your body uses its energy reserves during the workout, so after, your metabolism will stay elevated and continue to burn calories. This is also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.

Because HIIT helps the heart become more efficient, this form of exercise reduces the risk of developing chronic health conditions. Your body metabolizes your fat stores for fuel during and after the workout to return to its normal resting state. This form of exercise also trains your body to recover more quickly.

However, HIIT workouts stress your muscle tissues. Therefore, to get the most from your workouts, your body needs to recover and repair properly. As your muscles repair the damage with self-produced human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, and testosterone, your muscles will grow in both size and definition.

Another huge benefit of HIIT is that it doesn't require much time. With today's busy schedules, the efficiency of HIIT workouts is a major plus! You can get in a great workout — warm-up, workout, and cool-down — in 30 minutes or less.

HIIT on the treadmill

So how do you apply high-intensity interval training to your treadmill workout?

  • Tabata. Tabata is 20 seconds on and 10 seconds of recovery. This means you will sprint for 20 and then walk or jog for 10. Repeat for four minutes. If you’re a beginner, start with two minutes of Tabata, one minute of recovery, and two minutes of Tabata;
  • 30:30 method. This is 30 seconds of intense work followed by 30 seconds of active recovery. On the treadmill, this means 30 seconds of running and 30 seconds of jogging. Repeat for 6-10 minutes. For beginners, start with five minutes and work your way up;
  • 30-20-10 workout. This method involves 30 seconds of low-intensity effort, 20 seconds of medium-intensity effort, and 10 seconds of high-intensity work. For running on the treadmill, this translates to 30 seconds of walking, 20 seconds of jogging, and 10 seconds of sprinting.

After your circuit, always remember to cool down properly.

High-intensity interval training is one of the most effective forms of exercise for athletes looking to increase their performance. High-intensity interval training involves multiple rounds of high-intensity work paired with low-intensity recovery periods. For the high-intensity periods, your goal is to reach at least 80% of your maximum heart rate. Apply these methods to your treadmill workouts by incorporating sprinting, jogging, and walking.

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