Friday, November 23, 2018

7 Tips for Your Next High-Intensity Interval Training Workout

High-intensity interval training is taking the world by storm, claiming the spot of number one fitness trend in 2018 according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Each year’s list of trends is determined after consulting with over 4,000 exercise and medical professionals around the world, so you can rest assured that this trend is legit! If you’re joining the huge number of exercise enthusiasts who love HIIT, check out the following tips to improve your next workout.

1. Never forget to warm up and cool down.

You may love HIIT because it saves time, but don’t think that you can just skip out on a few minutes of warming up and cooling down. Warm up with stretches, some walking, a few bodyweight exercises, and other movements which will mimic the exercises you plan to use during your HIIT workout. This will steadily increase your heart rate and body temperature, priming your muscles to work and helping to prevent injury.

Cooling down is just as critical. Walking or stretching at the end of an intense workout will prevent you from feeling faint or even passing out.

2. Consider your pre- and post-workout meals.

No matter your current diet, you absolutely should not forego nutrition prior to and after any high-intensity interval training. Having a snack full of carbs, fiber, proteins, and fats a couple hours before your workout will provide your body with the fuel it needs to keep you going during the most difficult intervals.

Half an hour after you’ve finished exercising, your body will be working hard to repair muscle. Help it out with more carbs and proteins!

And, of course, always stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout.

3. Wear proper shoes.

Because HIIT workouts involve a wide variety of movements—up, down, backward, forward, and side to side—a regular running shoe probably won’t offer you the kind of support you’ll need. In fact, the extra padding included in running shoes may actually hinder your ability to perform the movements necessary in a HIIT-style exercise routine. Instead of running shoes, keep your eye out for a pair of shoes designed to withstand the quick changes in motion that are frequent in HIIT workouts.

4. Don’t overdo it.

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a workout groove. You’re pushing yourself hard, listening to your preferred gym playlist to hype you up, and feeling good—why stop when you’re in the zone? Because of HIIT’s high demand, a HIIT workout shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes. If you think you’re able to last longer, you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough.

5. Be self-aware.

If you’re just starting out with HIIT or if you’re new to regular exercise, don’t attempt more than one HIIT workout per week. HIIT is, just as the name suggests, extremely intense. Attempting multiple HIIT workouts in a short period won’t allow your body time to recover and puts you at a higher risk of injury. Instead, enjoy a different kind of workout on the other days of the week that you exercise. As your endurance increases, feel free to add one or two more HIIT workouts to your weekly routine and modify each workout itself to an appropriate intensity for your fitness level.

6. Keep intensity high.

How do you know whether or not your high-intensity interval training is actually, well, intense enough? The simplest way to tell whether or not you’re pushing yourself to the max is to attempt talking during your higher-intensity intervals. If you can manage more than a few words, push harder! If you exercise with a heart monitor, your target heart rate should be between 80% and 90% of your max.

7. Use larger muscle groups.

The primary goal of HIIT is to use most of your body with little rest, pushing you into an anaerobic state. The best way to do this? You guessed it—full-body exercises.
Challenging larger muscles groups like your legs ensures that you’ll see demonstrable increases in your heart rate—exactly what you want from your HIIT workout. Plus, exercises which target these larger muscle groups tend to be more intense.

The best thing about HIIT is its flexibility, meaning that you can always improve your HIIT workouts to better cater to your current fitness needs. Utilizing these tips can be a process, but there’s no doubt that they’ll help you reach the next level!

Sprinterval is a training app for iPhone and Android that gets you into Sprint Interval training. Check it out!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Why HIIT Training Works & How to Make Your Workout Better

These days, online fads have a new fitness routine to showcase just about every time you open an internet browser, muddling the waters of what works and what doesn’t. However, not all of these popular exercise trends are junk.

HIIT, for example, is everywhere. In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association surveyed exercise professionals around the world and found that HIIT had risen to the number-one spot of 2018 fitness trends, rising from number three in 2017, and there’s certainly a reason for HIIT’s popularity! 

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT is short for “high-intensity interval training,” and the name itself does a lot to explain this fitness philosophy. Most exercise gurus will describe a high-intensity interval as around 30 seconds of pushing yourself to the max—at least 80%, but usually 90% or more. In other words, HIIT is all about pushing your body as hard as you can for short bursts of time.

These high-intensity intervals alternate with periods of recovery, like miniature cooldown periods.

Fitness fiends love HIIT because: 

  • It’s easily adaptable to any fitness level. By increasing the length of rest periods or adjusting the number of repetitions, HIIT workouts are highly customizable.
  • It can work with a variety of exercises, as long as your entire body is involved.
  • It’s quick! Many people believe that they don’t have enough time to exercise, contributing to the fact that nearly a third of people worldwide aren’t physically active enough each day. Because HIIT training focuses on short bursts of strenuous activity, it’s rare to see a HIIT workout last more than 30 minutes, and that includes warmup and cooldown!

Why HIIT Training Works

During the high-intensity bursts which define HIIT, you’re pushing your body into an anaerobic state. This means that you don’t have enough oxygen, so your body will utilize its energy reserves to keep you going. This increase in metabolism is maintained for hours after the workout is finished, continuing to burn calories even after you’ve showered and ditched the gym clothes.

Called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect, this phenomenon is part of the reason why HIIT training can help you to burn calories and metabolize fat even during workouts of a shorter duration. In fact, HIIT is the best-known way to stimulate this effect since EPOC is determined by the intensity of the exercise rather than the length of time spent exercising.

If you’re more convinced by numbers, the EPOC effect achieved from a HIIT workout is capable of increasing the session’s energy cost by 6 to 15%. 

Also, consider the fact that your body burns about 5 calories for every liter of oxygen used. This means that exercises which increase oxygen demand (think HIIT) will be responsible for burning higher numbers of calories both during and after the workout.

Plus, the metabolic stress placed on your body results in elevated muscle repair and energy production, meaning more muscle definition, less body fat, and less time spent at the gym.

Improving Your Workout with HIIT

So, what’s the next step? You guessed it—trying HIIT training out for yourself. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to rearrange your workout routine to become more HIIT-friendly, and there’s no need to change up your favorite activities. Do you like to cycle? You still can!


Many stationary bike workouts suggest something like this: a five-minute warmup, 30 minutes of steady cycling, and a five-minute cooldown. To turn your ordinary cycling routine into a HIIT cycling routine, try something like the following: warm up for five minutes, then power through 30 seconds of high-intensity effort (pedaling as quickly as you can on a high resistance setting) followed by one minute of low intensity. Rinse and repeat for as many reps as you’re comfortable with, then cool down.

As you get those gains, you can begin to ramp up the length of your high-intensity intervals, increase resistance, or aim for more reps. As long as you’re pedaling as hard as you can for short bursts of time, you’ve got the right idea.


Prefer to run? The same principles can be applied to running. Replace your steady, long-distance routine with intervals of short sprints. Go all out for 30 seconds, then walk briskly or jog during low-intensity intervals. 

Everything Else

No gym handy? No problem! Eric Salvador of The Fitting Room in New York City has developed a “Do-It-Anywhere” HIIT workout consisting of 50 sit-ups, 40 jump squats, 30 push-ups, 20 split jumps, 10 tricep dips, and 30 burpees. 

Just about any workout regimen can be transformed into a HIIT routine, so don’t be afraid to get creative and toss some variety into your normal schedule! As popular as HIIT is, it’s more than just a temporary fad—this super-effective theory of exercise is here to stay.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

10 Tips to Make Your HIIT Workout Even Harder

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is, by far, one of the best ways to improve your fitness levels, build muscle mass, and burn through stubborn body fat. 

But what if there were ways you could even speed-up that process, making your HIIT workouts that much more efficient? Well, thankfully, there are. Here are ten 10 tips to make your HIIT workout even harder.

1. Bump up the Heat

Feel like you could work-up even more of a sweat? Well, consider layering up on insulated clothes or, if you can, increase the temperature of the studio you're in, should you really want to feel the sweat pouring down your face. Not only will this make you sweat more, but it’ll help you burn even more calories than usual.

2. Increase Your Weights

Not feeling too much of a burn? Time to step-up the weights—gradually, at least. Try doing your weighted reps by increasing those weights in one, two, or five-pound increments. 

3. Stay Longer in Each Interval

One of the best ways to make your HIIT interval workouts harder is simple: make them longer. Try staying in each interval for 15 more seconds than you did before. If it’s a rep-counting exercise, try doing 10 percent more repetitions per set.

4. Grab the Jump Rope

Most of us haven’t picked up a jump rope since elementary school, but jumping rope is still one of the most hard-hitting, whole-body workouts you can do. Better yet, a little goes a long way. 

Start by doing 30-second sets, with 15-second breaks in between, till you find your stride. And if you want to, opt for one that has adjustable weights in the handles to get a better upper body workout.

5. Stretch, so You Can Be Your Best

It’s imperative to thoroughly stretch both your upper and lower body before doing a HIIT workout. This helps you not only perform at your best during each interval but ensures your muscles can properly recover afterward. Generally speaking, you'll want to hold each stretch between 30 and 45 seconds to reap the benefits.

6. Go Up Hill, Fight Gravity

If you're used to doing your sprinting intervals on level ground, mix things up a bit—and head for the hills. Trudging up a hill, be it by burpy-jumping or through fast-paced sprints, will definitely help take your HIIT workout to the next level. 

Can’t find a solid hill to utilize, but next to the ocean? Sand sprints, too, are a great way to boost the intensity levels of your dashes. 

7. Workout out Early

Studies show that people have the most energy during the day between 6am and 5pm. Take advantage of that time window, giving you the boost you need to go even harder during your HIIT workout. Conversely, doing your workout too early or too late in the day can hamper your ability to go all-out.

8. Practice Mindful Breathing

All of us, for the most part, don’t give a second thought to breathing. However, by practicing mindful breathing techniques, you can both improve and intensify your HIIT Workout. 

For active sets, try occasionally holding your breath for 5 seconds to help force your lung capacity to grow. Afterward, use your rests to do deep breathing exercises.

9. Keep Your Heart Rate Up

How fast your heart beats during any workout is the best barometer to see how hard (or not) you’re taking it. Now, thanks to wearable technologies, it’s easier than ever to see what your heart rate. Depending on the person, try to stay in the upper regions of your suggested heart rate figures, trying each time to also stay longer in them, as well.

10. Get Into a Bit of Friendly Competition

There’s a reason why people tend to perform better on race or game day than usual. Research shows that our minds actively amp-up our bodies when we’re consciously competing. So next time you do your HIIT workout, try to see if you can partner with a friend for a little friendly competition. If you’re more of a solo HIIT-er yourself, join an online forum or community to match stats, numbers, and times.

Follow these tips on how to increase the intensity of your next HIIT workout, and body-fat-percentages and pant-sizes will thank you for it.

Need help getting started on a HIIT workout program? Sprinterval is an app that helps people get started with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with sprints.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Calorie-Burning Science Behind Sprint Interval Training

Interval training has become more and more popular in recent years, and for good reason. People are busier, and they want to make the most out of their time. Productivity is on everyone’s agenda, and that includes fitness optimization. 

Enter interval training, the king of efficiency when it comes to workouts. 


It's a form of physical training which alternates short bursts of high-intensity activity with longer periods of low-intensity exercise. Let's say you are a runner. In this case, interval training would mean including short sprints in between periods of running at a lower recovery pace. 

It’s an intense form of exercise, which means a workout will be a lot shorter than cardio. You would only need (and be able to do) around 20 minutes workouts. 


Any type of exercise has its own advantages, and interval training is no exception. For starters, it leads to building fitness and improving performance faster. 

Interval training combines aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic activity is the lighter exercise (jogging, walking, dancing – you get it), while anaerobic exercises are the higher intensity activities that you can’t sustain for long (i.e. sprinting). Training the anaerobic system makes the body adapt over time and increase endurance for intense exercise. 

Also, by repeatedly raising and lowering the heart rate, the cardiovascular system is strengthened faster than with other forms of workouts. In comparison, cardio keeps the heart rate relatively constant, and while that still improves its overall health, it doesn’t train it to adapt to fast changes. 


The main reason for the popularity of interval training is that it’s an excellent and time-efficient way of burning calories [1, 2]. Depending on the exercise and intensity level, you could burn more calories by doing 30 minutes of interval training than from 1 hour of cardio. 

How does that work? EPOC: Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption, a response triggered by intense, anaerobic activity. EPOC causes the organism to later consume a larger amount of oxygen in order to recover. Because of its effect, the body simply burns more calories while resting, after completing a workout. 

With cardio, calories are mainly burnt during the actual exercise, and the EPOC effect is minimal. Studies show that intense training generates a much stronger EPOC effect and a higher energy expenditure [3, 4] High-intensity workouts can activate the calorie burning effect of EPOC for up to 38 hours [5].

It is hard to calculate how many calories you burn from EPOC, and studies show different results. However, calorie burning also varies due to factors such as age, weight, or gender. 

It still makes sense to incorporate interval training into your exercise program. Even if we go by lower figures, you would still be burning calories after you finish exercising, while doing nothing. If maximizing time efficiency is a priority, interval training will enable you to make the most out of it. 


While it used to be mostly for high-level athletes, nowadays interval training is popular for everyone. 

What’s great is that you can incorporate it into different activities, whether it’s running, cycling, elliptical machine or whatever other exercise you like. You can also adapt it to your level of fitness. 

If you have a good fitness level, you might want an intense, structured training, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The higher the intensity, the more calories you’ll burn [6], so HIIT is considered the best fat-burning option. You could add 30 minute HIIT workouts (such as a high-intensity spinning class, or sprints) in your fitness program. 

HIIT is not recommended for beginners, as it could cause injuries. However, novices can incorporate low-intensity interval training into their routine. Scientists have found that low-intensity training can be just as effective as higher intensity activity [7], and it will allow you to exercise for longer to maximize fat burn. 

If you enjoy going for walks, next time you can add short periods of fast walking or light jogging. You’ll save some time, and burn more calories. Win-win.  Interval training is a great form of exercise for burning fat, due to the elevated metabolism which allows you to burn calories while resting. 
But ultimately, the best exercise is the one you enjoy, because that’s what you’re going to stick to. For those who enjoy interval training, that’s awesome.  But if you absolutely love running for an hour at a steady pace, you will probably see more results this way than by forcing yourself to do HIIT if you don’t like it. 

While burning calories can be optimized through interval training, diet still plays the biggest role in losing weight. To make the most out of your exercise, make sure to also eat healthy, and cut junk food. 

Studies cited: 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Kickstart the New Year With a New Running Habit

Whenever the end of the year rolls around, most of us feel equal parts happy and sad. Holiday weight can be a bummer, but there’s also no better time to start running than right now. 

Believe it or not, once you start running, pretty soon it will develop into a habit. It also doesn’t take all that long, despite what Stacy at work with the Apple Watch might have told you while she was gearing up for her last marathon. More importantly, anybody can start running. 

Maybe you’ve been putting it off because you feel like people would watch you. Perhaps, instead, you just keep meaning to do it and something else just keeps cropping up. We’ve all been there. Willpower is a handy tool to have in your arsenal, but there are less people who have it strongly than don’t. 

Willpower is also an excellent way of putting added stress on yourself, as though human beings don’t do that enough by default as it is. Furthermore, there are some days when you just can’t seem to make it out of the door without three shots of espresso in a travel mug. Those days are, maybe, not the best for running. 

The first step is, therefore, to forgive yourself on the days you feel more tired. Our bodies and our willpowers both have only a limited amount of resources to get us through the day. That’s why HIIT training routines are becoming more common than anything else. When you forgive yourself for missing a workout, you’re more likely to get back on the proverbial horse the very next day. 

The Science Behind the Runner’s High 

You might’ve rolled your eyes when overhearing runners talk about the high they get when they run. Perhaps they’ve mentioned that the rest of the world disappears when they run or that it helps them to clear their mind. However, there actually is such thing as an exercise high, and it’s all to do with feel-good brain chemicals. 

Indeed, science has proven that anytime your colleagues say they feel better after running, they actually do. Chemicals and endorphins such as dopamine serotonin, and endocannabinoids are released through high-intensity workouts such as sprint interval training. As a result, they give you a huge mood boost. 

Couch-to-5K: What’s it All About? 

Anyone who hasn’t run before but has been tempted to take it up, might have, at some point, been advised to try the Couch-to-5k challenge. This is an awesome way to get beginners up and running. After all, it was a plan that was exclusively designed to do just that. In just nine weeks, it will take you from the couch to running 5 km. Hence the name. 

Most importantly, all you need in order to start the plan is a good pair of running shoes that are comfortable as well as suitable for different types of weather. Once you have those, you can plan out a time of day in which to do the workout and even pick out a route. This way, you’re essentially pre-destined to keep going. 

But what about after the nine weeks are up? What then? 

Well, sprint interval training is a natural step forward. 

The Basics of Sprint Interval Training 

You’ve probably heard of HIIT exercises at some point. Particularly so over the last couple of years. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it pretty much means going all out in your workouts for a shorter amount of time. 

While the couch to 5k program is the best way to forge a running habit, once you've been bitten by the fitness bug, you might naturally gravitate towards sprint training. This is great, because sprinting burns more fat than jogging, and not to be That Guy, but it also takes up far less time out of your day. In turn, that makes running feel like second nature and less of a chore. 

Furthermore, by this point, you’re probably already looking forward to your next runners high - and that’s totally understandable. The benefits of sprint interval training also reach far-and-wide. In other words, as well as burning fat, sprinting helps you to maintain the muscle mass that an aerobic exercise such as jogging doesn’t. Additionally, your fitness and stamina levels will shoot through the roof, leading you longer and easier workouts. 

Sprinterval is an app and training program that was designed to be as easy as the couch to 5k is. The training program provides you with six weeks of HIIT/sprint interval workouts that differ from week-to-week. The best part of it is that it was designed for beginners, which makes it the next step to following your dreams. 

The next time that Stacy at work with the Apple Watch tries to tell you about her latest marathon, you can shrug it off. As my grandpa Forrest Gump used to say*: Don’t get bitter, just get fitter. 

*He didn’t really say that.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sprinting and Your Brain

Sprint interval training is a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) based on short bursts of maximum or near-maximum sprinting speed. The health benefits of sprint interval training appeal to people with a wide range of goals-- whether it be weight loss, greater lean muscle mass, or better cardiovascular endurance. However, one of the least-known but most beneficial results of sprint interval training is a dramatic improvement to brain health. So what’s the connection? To understand that, we need to understand how it differs from traditional forms of exercise.

What makes sprint interval training different than traditional exercise?

Traditional, or steady-state exercises are exactly as they sound--steady, evenly-paced exercises performed for a set duration of time. Generally, as you perform a steady-state exercise, your heart rate is slightly elevated but remains fairly stable. Sprint interval training, on the other hand, requires your heart to work harder, but for shorter bursts. Consider the last time you went for a jog, compared to the last time you ran as fast as you can. Your heart rate after sprinting was higher and took longer to return to its normal rate, right? 

All of that increased pumping has a positive impact on your fitness level, because of how your body fuels your workout. During a steady-state exercise like jogging, your body relies primarily on oxygen for fuel, without the need to burn energy from other storehouses in your body. Sprint intervals, by contrast, start by burning oxygen. Then, as your body reaches its maximum oxygen levels, it starts to break down glycogen, burning a greater number of calories in a much shorter amount of time.

Sprint intervals also boost endurance levels by continually pushing your body past new fitness peaks by increasing cardiovascular endurance and lean muscle mass. As a bonus, you’ll burn calories even after you’ve stopped sprinting, thanks to Excessive Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which is the process of burning calories while the body returns to its resting metabolic rate. 

How does it translate into improved brain health?

In a recent study by the University of Texas, researchers discovered that HIIT exercises like sprint interval training had a significant impact on a protein known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF helps regulate mood, the repair of brain cells and cognitive functions like memory and the ability to retain information. 

When your BDNF levels are low, you are at greater risk of depression and certain mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The study proved that HIIT exercise has a positive impact on the amount of BDNF in the brain, resulting in improved brain functions. 

Here’s what that means for a better quality of life for you.

Better cognition and short-term memory

In another study of the effects of HIIT, subjects were given a memory test immediately following a HIIT session. The research showed a significant boost in both selective attention and short-term memory compared to the control group, which did only low-intensity stretching exercises. 

Over 80% of people in North America over the age of 85 suffer from some degree of dementia. A sprint interval training program that raises BDNF and increases cognition, attention, and memory is a smart way to safeguard your brain as you age.

Improved mood

We’ve all heard about “runner’s high.” It’s the good mood that runners claim after they complete a workout. Non-runners may scoff at it, but science has proven that runner’s high is a very real phenomenon-- especially with HIIT exercise like sprint intervals. By stimulating the release of endorphins and chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, an exercise session immediately boosts your mood.

Reduced risk of depression and anxiety

Studies have proven that cardiovascular exercise can be just as effective as medication when it comes to anxiety and depression. In addition to releasing mood-boosting brain chemicals, it leads to structural changes in the brain and body that contribute to an overall sense of well being and security. While you should never stop taking medication or start a vigorous exercise program without consulting your physician, consider sprint intervals as a medication-free way to reduce the risk of and treat depression and anxiety, with the added side effect of better physical fitness.

The health benefits of sprint interval training are profound. Along with the immediate benefits to mood and mental health, sprint intervals offer an easy, inexpensive way to achieve and maintain lifelong fitness.