Just give it a fortnight
That’s how long it takes to gain results you can see and feel using HIIT. Over 14 days you build the same endurance and power with 135 minutes of interval training as you’d get from 630 minutes of traditional steady-state endurance work. Did we mention it’s a lot less boring, too?
Forget flat surfaces
Horizontal jogging won’t do you any favours. Set the treadmill at a 10% gradient to boost your leg strength, reduce your risk of injury when pushing your limits and help you work up more of a sweat. Do 30 seconds on an incline then 30 seconds off for 12-15 sets. Then just get the hell out of there.
Pick your poison
One interval distance was not made to rule them all. Instead, adapt the length of your efforts to your current goal. If you want to finish your next 5K faster, do 4 x 800m runs. If a half marathon is more your thing, speed up then slow down every mile. Your next race time will speak for itself.
Don’t run on empty
Ignore what you’ve heard about it burning more fat. When doing intense bursts, energy is vital: 20g of protein before a session is ideal and enhances your calorie burn rate over 24hr.
Carb up, no guilt
To maximise your muscle gains from interval training, carbohydrates are firmly back on your menu. The oxidative stress from intense bursts of exercise can prompt your body to turn on your muscles for energy, eating them away. Avoid this by enjoying a couple of handfuls of brown pasta or two slices of wholemeal bread before any HIIT session and relish the fact you don’t have to justify it to yourself.
Make a speedy recovery
It sounds horrendous but if you want to deal with soreness quickly, supra-maximal HIIT is your new masseuse. It removes the painful metabolic by-products of training, such as lactic acid, much more effectively than any sort of steady-state recovery cardio. Although you’ll probably need to lie down afterwards.
Supplement before your workout
For the best leg up during HIIT, take amino acids before your session. Men who took them 30 minutes prior to training were found to build 42% more muscle than those who dosed up after.
Save the best for last
To maximise its benefits, perform HIIT at the end of your workout. If you can contemplate anything other than stumbling into the shower afterwards, it’s a sign you’re not doing it properly. The pain in your hips won’t lie.