Are shorter days and colder weather making it harder to fit in a workout? Give High intensity interval training (HIIT) a try this winter!


HIIT is a type of cardiorespiratory training that combines repeated bouts of short duration, high-intensity exercise with bouts of lower intensity exercise or complete rest. Compared to last week when we learnt that during low intensity steady state cardio, we should aim for an effort level of 4-6/10; during HIIT, we should be aiming for an effort level of 7 or more/10. When using maximum heart rate (MHR) as a guide, high intensity can be considered exercising above 85% of MHR.


A guide to find your MHR is 220 – your age.

Anyone of any age and fitness level can perform HIIT, because the goal is to work at 85% or above of your MHR, which is different among individuals. HIIT can be performed with almost any type of activity, including running, cycling, rowing, or even strength training exercises such as squats, push-ups and sit-ups. Different work-to-rest ratios can also be implemented to mix up individual HIIT sessions. For example, you could work for 40 seconds at high effort and rest for 20 seconds, repeating this 5-10 times. Alternatively, you could work for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds, repeating this for 4 minutes at a time.

Ashleigh is completing a 100m row with 15 seconds rest x 5.


HIIT is suitable for people with varying health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease or hypertension. It is recommended, however, that it is performed under the guidance of an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, so that HIIT can be tailored to meet individual needs. There are many benefits of training at a higher intensity and these include but are not limited to:


  • More calories burnt in a shorter amount of time
  • Metabolic rate higher for a longer time after exercise
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance and reduces blood pressure
  • Improved insulin resistance


Since you are trying to work close to your maximum capacity during the short bursts of activity, HIIT is not designed to be your sole form of training. Instead, aim to include one or two HIIT sessions into your week, interspersed with low intensity and moderate intensity workouts. However, as HIIT is designed to be a more intense workout, it takes less time to complete and hence, there is no reason not to fit in a quick HIIT session before, during or after work. It will also get your heart pumping faster more quickly, which is a great way to warm up this winter!


Written by Courtney Maher