12 Quick Tips for High Intensity Interval Training: How to Do Burst Training


urst training or high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of cardiovascular exercise plan that integrates shorter durations of anaerobic exercises that are intense in nature with lesser intense periods of recovery, till the time you are worn out. These workouts take less than half an hour and the person’s fitness level is the deciding factor for how long he will do it. It offers many benefits like better metabolism of glucose, lowering of overall fat mass, improved heart health, enhanced athletic condition and capacity, and improved cognition. [1]

Health Benefits of Burst Training

The following are the various health benefits of Burst Training:

1. Helps Improve Metabolic Response

By reducing the body’s insulin resistance, burst training may help in enhancing weight loss and lowering levels of fasting blood sugar. A study revealed that compared to moderate intensity continuous training, HIIT was more efficacious in reducing fasting insulin levels. The decrease was thirty-one percent in case of burst training and only six percent in the moderate exercise group.

2. Helps Enhance Cardiovascular Fitness

In a study, it was seen that HIIT exercises, when done for more than one month, were able to enhance cardiovascular fitness and body composition of adolescents. Other studies also revealed that HIIT could significantly improve cardiovascular fitness as well as VO2 max in healthy participants between the age of 18 and 45.

3. Helps Enhance Cognition

A study involving children concluded that burst training can serve as an effective model for enhancing working memory and cognition control.

4. Helps Improve Oxidation of Fat

A study done on moderately active women who did burst training on every alternate day for a period of two weeks revealed its positive impact on fat oxidation on the entire body including skeletal muscles. In healthy and young people burst training can reduce subcutaneous fat moderately and much more significantly in people who are overweight. [1]

Components of Burst Training

1. Aerobic or Cardio Training

It helps reduce blood pressure, resting rate of the heart, activates the lymphatic system and thereby helps in detoxification and enhances blood circulation to the brain thereby promoting brain health.

2. Resistance or Strength Training

It increases the level of human growth hormone in the body which further mobilizes fat. It helps in building muscle mass and activates enzymes that burn fat. More the intensity of your workout, higher is the level of human growth hormones while you are asleep. Resistance training also enhances sensitivity of insulin receptors and promotes glucose tolerance. As a result, your body burns fats rather than carbohydrates. When compared to aerobic training, strength or resistance training can lead to a greater metabolic after-burn effect along with boosting bone density, metabolism and fat less muscles.[2]

Primary Principles of Burst Training

1. Warm up

Start with a three minutes warm up.

2. Intense and Rapid Exercise

Your warm-up has to be followed up with intense and fast exercise for 30 seconds. You need to feel that you cannot do it anymore and almost are catching your breath. Do lower resistance exercises with more repetitions to give a boost to your heart rate.

3. Recovery

Lower your pace and reduce the resistance but keep moving for 90 seconds.

4. Repeat

You need to redo the high-intensity exercise as well as recovery for at least seven more times. At the initial stages, you have to consider your fitness level to decide the number of repetitions you can do. You may be just able to repeat high-intensity intervals twice or thrice initially, which can be eventually raised to eight in a session of twenty minutes.

5. Cooling down

Afterward, for a few minutes reduce your intensity by fifty to eighty percent.
Do it twice or thrice weekly and allow your body to recover. [3]

How You Can Do Burst Training Using Dumb Bells and Chin Up Bar

1. Static Contraction

Keep a rubber ball behind your back, pick up a dumbbell in each hand, flex your knees and hips at a right angle and perform a static contraction. Stay in the static position as long as possible. Do many deep knee squats after this till you are completely fatigued.

2. Overhead Shoulder Press With Dumbbells

Pick them up and slowly raise them above your head, pressing the dumbbells upward for at least ten seconds. Take 10 seconds to slowly lower those. Do not relax while performing an exercise. Meanwhile, your shoulder girdle will feel the fatigue. Your weight selection should be such that you can do at least eight to ten repetitions. The weights that you are selecting could be made lighter if you are failing to do eight reps. Similarly, you should take heavier weights if you can do more than ten repetitions.

3. Triceps or Biceps Curls

Pick a weight in both the hands and do the curls.

4. Chin Ups

Do several chin-ups slowly using a chin-up bar with an underhand grip. Keep doing till you feel completely exhausted. The underhand grip will help you involve all the torso muscles in the workout. You manage to use your biceps in the best position when your hands are supinated at shoulder width. Pronated hands will lead to usage of smaller muscles; premature exhaustion and absolutely no use of your bigger torso muscles. If you lack ample strength required to carry out a chin up, then you can use a chair to access the top position of the bar and hold on till you are exhausted.

5. Pushups

Place yourself in the plank position and do the pushups. Straighten your arms first and move down slowly till your chest is about to touch the floor. Now push yourself up. Try to take ten seconds to go down and ten seconds to move up. If you lack the strength to do pushups in the plank position, then try doing pushups against a countertop or from your knees. [3]

Hiit Using a Treadmill

1. Warm Up

Few minutes before starting your burst training on a treadmill you need to warm up on it by brisk walking. Do it for at least three minutes.

2. Jogging

Switch to a comfortable jog to increase intensity to moderate. Do it for two minutes, maintaining the incline of the treadmill at zero. You should be at five out of ten at the perceived exertion scale.

3. Sprinting

Run fast for a minute targeting seven or eight on the perceived exertion scale.

4. Reducing Intensity

Lower your speed to a moderate jog and continue for two minutes.

5. Repeat

Again, sprint for a minute and then jog completing a twenty-one-minute burst workout.

6. Cool Down

Brisk walk for five minutes to cool down. [4]

Burst Training With High Incline Treadmill

This will aid in burning more calories and use nine percent extra of your leg muscles.

1. Warm Up

Set the incline at 2.0 and brisk walk for five minutes.

2. Increase in Speed and Incline

Move on to moderate jogging and raising the incline to 3.0. You can jog for two minutes targeting five out of ten at the perceived exertion scale.

3. Faster Jogging and Higher Incline

Now for a minute, you need to jog fast at an incline of 5.0 to 6.0. At this incline sprinting is not advised.

4. Reducing Incline and Speed

Get back the incline to 3.0 and jog moderately for two minutes.

5. Repeat

Keep repeating seven times to complete twenty-one-minute workout.

6. Cool Down

Brisk walk for five minutes at zero inclines. [4]

Lower Intensity Interval Workout Using a Treadmill

1. Warm Up

Walk for five minutes at a comfortable pace.

2. Brisk Walking

Slowly raise the pace of brisk walking till you are breathing heavily. Do it for two minutes targeting four at the perceived exertion scale.

3. Raise the Incline

Increase it to 2.0 and walk briskly for half a minute more.

4. Lower the Incline

Get it back to zero and walk for two minutes more.

5. Repeat

You can repeat six times for a fifteen-minute session or eight times to complete a twenty-minute workout session.

6. Cool Down

Walk slowly at zero inclines. [4]

Some Easier Ways of Doing Burst Training at Home

You can select a few of them and perform them for ten to twenty minutes at least thrice a week.

1. Jumping Jacks

Do as many as you can in half a minute.

2. Running

Keeping your knees high, run in place at high speed.

3. Rope Jumping

You can jump a rope and even try a double dutch.

4. Squat Pulses

Start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart, then squat low and go up and down a little bit taking care that your knees do not move close to your toes.

5. High Jumping

Just stand anywhere, move your hands above your head and do the high jumps for thirty seconds to one minute.

6. Swimming

Swim in bursts in a pool, nearby lake, etc.

7. Biking

For biking, you can use an indoor spin bike or ride a bicycle outside.[5]

Tips for Doing Burst Training

1. Adjust the Regime to Your Level of Fitness

Your burst training workout has to match your body’s exercising capacity. As a beginner, you can start with walking for around 40 seconds to a minute; increase the pace, then walk in a moderate pace for a few minutes prior to your next interval. If you are a seasoned walker, then you can walk uphill for at least 60 seconds.

2. Mix It With Other Workouts

Burst training could be a component of your complete fitness program. You can do it on every other day especially when you are seeking some variety or cannot give much time to any long workout session. Burst training on every alternate day will keep your insulin activated well to manage your blood glucose levels.

3. Start Slowly

At the onset, go for less intense and shorter intervals and target an intensity which you feel difficult to reach. Slowly you will reach the intensity and if you fail to complete the interval you can reduce the intensity. You can do the burst for a longer duration to reap the benefits.

4. Increase Intensity Eventually

You can increase the intensity and duration of your every burst eventually. Do a minute of intense workout with a minute of recovery in between.

5. Use Your Creativity

Burst training can be done with many workouts like resistance training, swimming, cycling, circuit training, walking, team sports etc.

6. Keep Injury at Bay

Always start with a warm-up and end with a cool down period to keep sudden injuries at bay. [6]

Diet and HIIT Workout

Proper supply of nutrient is a must while doing bust training as your muscles are doing extra work and your heart rate is raised. To cut down on body fat without muscle loss, light meals and healthy snacks need to be consumed before a workout session. You need to refuel yourself post-workout by having a nutritious meal. [7]

Pre-workout Nutrition Tips

  • Carbohydrates: Combining complex and simple carbohydrates not only gives you an energy boost but also keeps you going throughout the exercise regime.
  • Proteins: Readily digestible proteins need to be consumed in small amounts.
  • Suggested pre-workout snacks: Few nutritious snacks that you can consume half an hour to an hour before your HIIT workout include:
    Rice cake with sliced banana
    Oats and dried fruits
    Hard boiled egg and apple
    Greek yogurt and berries
    Whole grain toast with nut butter
    Pita bread and hummus

Post-workout Nutrition Tips

Lean proteins and good complex carbohydrates are must after your burst training session to help recover your energy depleted muscles.

  • The timing of the meal: Consume it within half an hour to an hour after your cool down. If somehow you cannot eat a meal, just eat a nutrient dense snack within twenty minutes.
  • Suggested post workout foods:
    Whole grain wrap with banana and peanut butter
    A sandwich wrap with turkey or chicken
    Quinoa with lean meat and vegetables
    Oats with yogurt and banana
    Omelet made with egg white, vegetables, and some fruit

Hydration Tips

As you sweat a lot during your high-intensity workout, dehydration should be kept at bay at any cost. How much water you need to drink depends on your body weight and the intensity of your burst training regime. However, you can follow the basic rules:

  • At least two hours prior to your workout consume twenty ounces of water.
  • Half an hour before your workout you need to drink eight ounces of water.
  • Post workout consume sixteen ounces of water half an hour later