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HIIT or HISS | Know Your Workout

While getting back into the swing of things, both for my own workouts and setting up classes, I'm trying to put in a much work as I can in limited time frames.  As this first month of the new year comes to a close, I think for the general population many are trying to do the same and figuring out how to squeeze a workout in no matter what.  That is why a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout can be super effective to maximize your time and for lack of better words, burn.

HIIT workouts have been around for quite sometime, and you've probably seen this acronym floating around and have heard all about why you should incorporate this into your workout regime for the ultimate results. More recently new acronyms are popping up that even further define your workout, to achieve your goals and also to understand what your are doing to avoid overtraining.  

HIIT uses shorter intervals of High Intensity exercise, balanced with short intervals of active recovery.  Anaerobic Training at its finest, working to your max capacity getting your heart rate up, and bringing it back down to normal during recovery periods of approx 1 -2 minutes, to go out at max intensity again.  Although effective, HIIT workouts can also put a tremendous amount of stress on the body, and are truly effective when done 2-3 times per week. Taking approximately 24 - 48 hours in between each HIIT session for recovery.  This doesn't mean you have to completely stop exercising in between, go ahead and get your sweat sesh in, just be sure it is a lower intensity and working different muscle groups.  (Get outside and go for a walk, try that yoga class you've been thinking get the idea)

Now here is the Question...Are you truly getting a HIIT workout or is it HISS?  There is a big misconception, while many think they are getting a HIIT workout due to the High Intensity they are in fact getting a HISS (High Intensity Steady State) workout.

Let's Dive into HISS a little bit. (*Michol Dalcourt of the Institute of Motion, coined this term)

High Intensity Steady State.  This workout is aerobic training by working at a higher intensity for longer intervals with shorter recovery intervals at less than 30 seconds.  These workouts are great for building your aerobic capacity. 

In conclusion, BOTH workouts are beneficial and are most effective when performed a few times per week (especially in conjunction with other workouts).  As for which is better - that depends on your goals.  If you're looking to increase your aerobic capacity HISS is where it is at, and if you're looking to do some power lifting go get your HIIT on.  

Keep in mind though for overall fitness, working out at a variety of intensities is best.  It is the Trifecta of exercise, nutrition and your recovery; as I always say to my clients: what you eat and your recovery time are just as important as your workout!

The More You Know.... :)


American Council on Exercise
Amy Roberts
Institute of Motion


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