Ladies, are you looking for an effective way to lose weight in the comfort of your home, while using no equipment? YES? Perfect! The HIIT workout may be just what you’ve been searching for. Performing this exercise routine over a few weeks can significantly improve your cardio respiratory fitness, boost your energy level, and promote lean muscle mass and fat loss. Studies have also suggested that an effective HIIT workout routine for women can improve memory and mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Impressed yet? Here’s more…..
Another advantage for women doing the HIIT workout is that it is possible for women to perform these exercises while they are menstruating. In fact, during menstruation, estrogen and progesterone levels drop causing women to access glycogen and carbohydrates more easily, thereby accelerating the breakdown of fat. And one more thing……. the workout will not bulk you up!
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HIIT Workout Explained
The acronym H.I.I.T. stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. The classic HIIT workout consists of alternating periods of ‘work’ and ‘recovery’. During the ‘work’ periods, you perform short, intense bursts of exercise using maximum effort. This is where the “high intensity” in HIIT is derived from. Your heart will be working at a tremendous rate, usually at an 80%-90% capacity. Your muscles are also forced to work extremely hard for short periods of time without getting any time to recover. And as a result, they produce lactic acid in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen. The lactic acid that is produced during this anaerobic exercise releases adrenaline, which is the hormone which helps in moving fat around the body.
During the ‘recovery’ period you stop exercising and literally try to catch your breath while bringing your heart rate down. During this interval, you can sit down if you want to or even lie down. The key is to take deep breaths which will help your body to recover in preparation for the next round of intense exercise.
One of the most popular variations of HIIT is the Tabata method. Tabata training is very demanding and causes the body to respond to the stress of the workout by rapidly increasing its capacity to increase oxygen uptake, which is an important measure of fitness. Each workout involves 20 seconds of high intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest, and this is repeated eight times.
What’s necessary for a Good HIIT Workout
In order to gain maximum benefits from a HIIT workout, there are certain things which should be incorporated. These include:
- Thoroughly warming-up before getting into any HIIT routine.
- Ensuring that the ‘work’ phase is no longer than 60 seconds so as to maintain the required intensity of your workout,
- Aiming to achieve 85%-90% of your maximum heart rate during the ‘work’ period to get the most out of each session.
- Letting your heart rate drop back towards its resting rate before proceeding to the next work period.
- Having a balanced ratio of work period: recovery period so that your muscles have enough time to renew their oxygen and glycogen levels. For example, 20 seconds work, and 40 seconds recovery is satisfactory, although to avoid injury, you may want to select a 20 seconds work, 60 seconds recovery ratio. The right ratio will however depend on the exercise being performed. Nonetheless, you should aim for a consistent ratio throughout.
- Aiming for about three HIIT sessions per week for effective weight loss, with each session averaging 20 minutes. Training more often than two or three times per week can be counterproductive because your body needs adequate time to recover between sessions.
- Ending each session with a suitable cool down and stretch routine.
Beginner HIIT Workout Routine
- High Knee Ups – These are cardio-intensive exercises which are usually performed at a fast pace. Begin this exercise by standing straight with your arms bent at a 90° angle, elbows tucked into your sides, palms facing the floor and feet hip distant apart. Next, run on the spot as fast as you can, making sure to jump and lift your legs high enough so that your hands slap the top of your thighs. During the exercise, keep your core engaged and your chest lifted. Make sure to land with soft knees.
- Twisted Mountain Climbers – These are great total body exercises which utilize your core. Start in a plank position, with your body fully extended, core contracted and your hands a little wider than your shoulders. Your shoulders will be stabilizing your upper body while your triceps work isometrically to keep you in place. Bring your right foot towards your left shoulder without elevating your hip. Return to the starting position, and then alternate legs, this time bringing your left foot towards your right shoulder. Repeat, but this time do it faster.
- Arm Sprints – These are great exercises for working your arms and core. Stand up with your arms bent at right angles by your sides. Next, pump your arms forwards and backwards as fast as you can as though powering a sprint. Remain standing the whole time.
- Frog Jump Exercises – Start in a push-up position with your hands a little wider than your shoulders. Hop forward using your feet to land just outside your hands. You should look like you’re about to leapfrog. Then, hop back out. Repeat.
- Truck Jump Burpees – This is really a combination of two exercises, truck jumps and burpees. Start in a standing position, squat, and then place both hands on the floor in front of you. Jump back into a plank position. Do a push-up. Then, engaging your abs, hop forward with your feet and jump up in the air, tucking your knees tight into your chest or touching your thighs with your hands. Land softly, always protecting your joints.
- Squat with Hip Rotation – This exercise combines a conventional squat exercise with a hip turn at the top and is great for your core. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms crossed in front of your chest to help you balance. Then, go down as far as possible into a squat position, keeping your head, spine, and pelvis in a long line. Come up out of the squat and twist your torso to the left, squeezing your abs while staying on the balls of your feet. Return to doing a squat. Come back up again, this time twisting your torso to the right. Keep alternating sides until you complete the round.
- Raised Toe Taps – This is another good exercise for engaging your core. Begin by sitting on the floor with your feet planted in front of you and hands underneath your shoulders. Squeeze your core and push through your heels to raise your hips off the floor. Raise your left leg straight out in front of you and reach to touch the toes with your right hand. Then, lower your hips (still off the floor) and repeat on the other side by raising your right leg in front of you and reaching to touch the toes with your left hand. Repeat.
A Word of Caution
As much as the HIIT workout routine is a smash hit and can deliver noticeable fitness results relatively quickly, here are some important things which you need to consider before fully engaging in it:
- According to a Rutgers study, people who engage in HIIT workouts are at a much greater risk for injury, especially in their knees and shoulders.
- Performing these workouts without proper supervision puts you at an increased risk for injury from poor form and muscle overuse.
- Fluctuations in hormones during menstruation may cause changes in joint and connective tissue structure and potentially put some women at more risk of injury.
- Consulting with your doctor beforehand can help you to identify if you have any preexisting conditions and physical weaknesses which may predispose you to injury.
The HIIT workout routine for women can provide phenomenal results over a short period of time. The key is to be consistent no matter how difficult it seems. The short, intense bursts of exercise during the ‘work’ periods push you to your limits causing muscle fatigue which in turn allows your body to increase its oxygen intake. During the post-workout afterburn, calories are burned for hours after the workout has ended as your body keeps drawing oxygen and burning calories at an accelerated rate.
The high intensity nature of the workout means that proper exercise form is difficult to maintain, which makes you more susceptible to injuries. Therefore, ladies, please ensure that you exercise caution whenever performing the HIIT routine. Your body will thank you for it.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave me a comment below and let me know how your HIIT workout routine is going.