Your HIIT heart rate is the foundation of a HIIT workout. It’s what separates a long, slow jog from a high intensity treadmill workout.
And you’ve probably heard about HIIT before. Like most, you’ve probably wondered, “How can such workouts be so effective?”
It all has to do with the HIIT heart rate and level of exertion.
So, if you’re interested in HIIT, what makes it so effective, and how you can reap the benefits, read on. We’ll break it all down.
What Is Maximum Heart Rate?
Maximum heart rate (MHR) is a measure of how much you can push your heart safely. The value is individual to the person, and many factors affect it. Truly understanding your MHR is almost impossible, but there are ways to get a ballpark figure.
The most popular and accepted approach for calculating MHR is by subtracting your age from 220. (1)
For example, if you’re 30-years-old, your MHR would be 190 beats per minute (220 – 30 = 190). Of course, it never hurts to be conservative and take 90 percent of that value, which would be 171 beats per minute.
The premise of HIIT is to push your heart rate up for a short period before taking a break for it to go back down. In contrast, steady-state cardio elevates your heart rate moderately and keeps it there for 10, 20, 30 minutes, or longer.
The HIIT heart rate is anywhere between 70 and 90 percent of your MHR. For example, a spring workout might raise your heart rate to 90 percent, where a more beginner-friendly interval session could raise it to around 70-75 percent.
|Zone||% of MHR||Workout Intensity||Description|
|Zone 5||90-100%||Maximum Intensity||Helps fit athletes increase speed; Very short durations|
|Zone 4||80-90%||Anaerobic||Increases Max Performance; Shorter durations|
|Zone 3||70-80%||Aerobic||Improves aerobic conditioning|
|Zone 2||60-70%||Weight Control||Improves endurance and fat burning; longer durations|
|Zone 1||50-60%||Warm-up||Improves overall health; ideal for warm-up and recovery|
What Is HIIT And What Makes It Beneficial?
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. As its name suggests, HIIT is a type of training where you push yourself hard for brief periods, then take time to recover. For example, you might choose to sprint for ten seconds, then walk for a minute to recover. Doing so is a form of HIIT.
The primary benefit of HIIT is that it saves you time. Instead of doing a moderately intense and long session, you condense more work in less time, which allows you to finish quicker and go about your day. (2)
HIIT is also great because it burns plenty of calories, supports fat loss, aids muscle growth, and makes us more athletic, despite the shorter time investment.
Safety Considerations For High-Intensity Interval Training
Before wrapping up this post, it’s important to note that HIIT is not for everyone. This type of training is intense, so you should only attempt it if you have a good fitness base. And even then, start gradually and ramp up the intensity over a few weeks to reduce the risk of injuries or overtraining.
Hydration is also an essential element when doing HIIT. Dehydration often increases the risk of muscle cramps. Plus, not having enough liquids in your system can hinder your performance and lead to suboptimal training. (3)
Finally, it’s also essential to take good care of your body by sleeping enough, eating well, and doing some mobility work between workouts. In doing so, you boost your natural range of motion, which reduces the risk of acute injuries. Plus, good recovery allows you to perform well each time you train and progress accordingly.
Read more about HIIT workouts here.
1. Understanding your target heart rate. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/understanding-your-target-heart-rate.
2. Heid, M. (2017). HIIT: High intensity interval training exercise really works. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/4893161/hiit-high-intensity-interval-training-exercise/.
3. Queen, G. (2020). Hydration and Hiit. Nuun Hydration. Retrieved from https://nuunlife.com/blogs/news/hydration-and-hiit.