HIIT 101: A Guide to High-Intensity Interval Training

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High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a type of workout where the exercises are quick, intense bursts of exertion that are followed by short recovery periods. Penn State’s fitness program offers a class dedicated to this style of workout, and it is definitely a challenging yet rewarding workout.

The classes are 45 minutes long, and you are bound to break a sweat. After taking a few classes, it becomes apparent that what you put into HIIT is what you get out of HIIT. If you really give each class your all, you will be more likely to achieve your desired fitness goals.

At Penn State, all of the workouts are taught by student fitness instructors. HIIT is offered every weekday either one or two times per day. All of the HIIT classes are free, but they often book up fast, so it is important to sign up for them in advance if given the option.

During the workout, the instructors put the set of exercises on a whiteboard, and after they demonstrate each one for the class, it is time to get to work.

Kinesiology Professor Blair Evans talked to VALLEY about the concerns of  HIIT.

“One concern to keep in mind is to make sure that the mental benefits of physical activity aren’t lost in the process.  Researchers in exercise psychology have demonstrated that high-intensity exercise can often be unenjoyable – so HIIT is at risk of: (a) not being fun enough for people to derive the psychological benefits of exercise and (b) may be unenjoyable, making it difficult to ‘stick with’ HIIT-based exercise plans,” says Evans.

Because of how rigorous they are, HITT classes are generally more appealing to those who already enjoy working out. However, there’s no harm in giving it a try even if you are a beginner to fitness classes.

“If you’re someone who doesn’t much like intense activity and has trouble sticking with exercise, I expect that you’d have a tough time committing to HIIT,” says Evans.

One exercise known for being especially challenging is the battle rope exercise, where someone has to throw the rope up and down repeatedly. This is one of the exercises you will feel the next day, especially if you are new to HITT classes. Each HITT class features a variety of different workouts of various skill levels, ranging from easy to advanced for each person.

Like many other fitness fads, there is a lot of debate on whether HIIT does more harm than good, but instructors like Kristen Denezza depend on it.

“What is really cool is that what you put into it is what you get out of it —it does really depends on the effort you are putting in,” Denezza says. “Those that come really like to individualize the class, and they really get into the zone and go all out on their intervals. They feel the beat of the music and dig deep, find what they have left to give and lay it all on the floor.”

Because of how intense HITT is, you will likely leave class very sweaty, but this really just means that you worked hard and gave the class your all. It’s normal to feel extremely tired and even sore the next day, especially if it is your first time going to a class. The energy inside the gym during a HITT class is intense, but it can also motivate participants to keep going and push themselves.

If you’re looking for a new workout class to try that may be a little bit more challenging, VALLEY recommends trying a HITT workout class. The Penn State HIIT classes often times are never the same as the last, and each time you enter the room is a chance to try something new.


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