The Rest in HIIT

The American College of Sports Medicine conducts an annual survey regarding fitness trends, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) being number two for 2020. For good reason, HIIT has been shown to be extremely effective and efficient. Whilst in, “Short of Time? HIIT training is a way to go!”, covered the what and why, I’m going to talk a little about precautions and how to perform HIIT.

If you haven’t read Norlina’s article, I highly recommend it. As the name suggests, HIIT training is high-intensity bursts of exercise with some low-intensity active recovery or rest between bouts. This style of training has many benefits for time-crunched individuals and for cardiovascular health. However, HIIT training must be conducted with a few safety considerations.

Safety Considerations

  • Base fitness – If one has a low level of ‘base fitness’, consider participating in a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program to build a tolerance to exercise.
  • Medical clearance – If one has a family history of diseases such as cardiovascular disease or hypertension consider it mandatory to gain approval to participate in such form of exercise from a general practitioner.
  • Form over function – Whilst HIIT has many benefits, if one cannot perform the exercise properly then consider replacing the exercise with one you’re proficient at.

How to HIIT

  • Rest
  • Where to start

When performing HIIT, rest is just as important as the hard interval. You must ensure you have sufficient rest between intervals so you’re able to continue to work at a high enough intensity for this form of exercise to be effective. Two main ways this can be done is by completely stopping or completing active recovery at about 40-50% of your maximal intensity. Commonly a 1:1 rest ratio is used or when sprint intervals are performed a 1:8 rest ratio might be used. E.g. 2 minutes activity followed by 2 minutes rest or 15 seconds sprint followed by 2 minutes rest.

Where to start? HIIT is hard, so try one workout a week of this style and as you get better at it, work towards performing two sessions per week. Remember, rest is important, I’m not just talking between bouts here, I’m talking about between sessions as well. Try to separate these gruelling workouts by a couple of days to get the best out of yourself!

So, what are you waiting for? Get after it and if you’re unsure, come see the staff at Absolute Balance for help. Accredited Exercise Scientist’s and Exercise Physiologist’s will more than willing to help.

William Ellis

Bachelor of Science (Exercise, Sports and Rehabilitation Science)

Exercise Physiology Student


Cress, M., Porcari, J., & Foster, C. (2015). Interval Training. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 19(6), 3-6.

Photo by Chase Kinney on Unsplash.

Thompson, W. R. (2019). Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 23(6), 10-18.

Yakin, N. (2019, November 18). Short of Time? HIIT training is a way to go!  Retrieved from