by: Victoria Frosini, MS, CPT

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She earned her Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013, where she conducted extensive research in weight loss, social support and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The high intensity workout we’re loving RN!

Time is the number one reason people say they don’t exercise. It’s extremely challenging to implement and stick to a routine when we’re busy juggling work, school, relationships and family. What if you could do less and still see results? Here’s a deep dive into why doing less (time) can give you more.

Breaking down HIIT basics

In order to see results from your fitness program your body must undergo stress followed by metabolic and physiological adaptations. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is characterized by short, intermittent bursts of vigorous exercise, combined with periods of rest or low-intensity recovery. The appeal of this approach is pretty straightforward. Exercise sessions can be short and effective, making your time commitment less and your fitness adaptations greater. As an added bonus, when you finish a HIIT workout, your body continues to burn calories while simultaneously increasing muscle building signals.

What types of exercise count?

HIIT is truly unique in that it can be applied to nearly any exercise modality. Your options are endless and you can do it anywhere. Bike, sprint, jump, skip, swim, utilize body weight movements …. You get the idea; it’s extremely versatile as long as the main goal is to achieve an “all out” effort followed by recovery.

How high is the “H” in HIIT?

The main purpose of HIIT is to push your body beyond its comfort zone. The ideal interval should be at the top of the intensity ranking (for example an 8 or 9 on a 1-10 RPE scale). If you are doing HIIT right, your body should NEED recovery following the work period. How do you know if your effort is enough? We suggest using the “talk test” to determine if the intensity is appropriate. Here’s a tip. If you can chat with a friend, (or scroll through social media/text) you’re most likely missing the benefits of high intensity intervals. Your effort should allow you to complete just a few words and leave you close to breathless, wanting and needing more recovery time before the next set!

The science behind high intensity

High intensity intervals have been shown to improve both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise ability. The benefits of HIIT include significant improvements in functional exercise performance and skeletal muscle mitochondrial adaptation. In addition, several studies have illustrated HIIT can reduce total fat mass, abdominal and visceral fat mass, while maintaining lean body mass (YESSSSS to muscle gains). In well-trained endurance athletes, HIIT has been shown to improve neuromuscular characteristics, anaerobic power, and acute heart rate recovery. In order to prevent injury and burnout, we stress including HIIT 2-3 times per week for 10-30 minutes as a component of a balanced training program suitable for beginners and advanced athletes.




Connolly, L. J., Bailey, S. J., Krustrup, P., Fulford, J., Smietanka, C., & Jones, A. M. (2017). Effects of self-paced interval and continuous training on health markers in women. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(11), 2281–2293.

Foster, C., Farland, C. V., Guidotti, F., Harbin, M., Roberts, B., Schuette, J., … Porcari, J. P. (2015). The Effects of High Intensity Interval Training vs Steady State Training on Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 14(4), 747–755.

Heydari, M., Freund, J., & Boutcher, S. H. (2012). The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity, 2012, 480467.

Knowles, A.-M., Herbert, P., Easton, C., Sculthorpe, N., & Grace, F. M. (2015). Impact of low-volume, high-intensity interval training on maximal aerobic capacity, health-related quality of life and motivation to exercise in ageing men.

Little, J. P., Safdar, A., Wilkin, G. P., Tarnopolsky, M. A. and Gibala, M. J. (2010), A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms. The Journal of Physiology, 588: 1011–1022.

Sculthorpe, N. F., Herbert, P., & Grace, F. (2017). One session of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every 5 days, improves muscle power but not static balance in lifelong sedentary ageing men: A randomized controlled trial. Medicine, 96(6), e6040.

Shen Y, Huang G, McCormick BP, Song T, Xu X (2017). Effects of high-intensity interval versus mild-intensity endurance training on metabolic phenotype and corticosterone response in rats fed a high-fat or control diet. PLOS ONE 12(7): e0181684.

Stöggl, T. L., & Björklund, G. (2017). High Intensity Interval Training Leads to Greater Improvements in Acute Heart Rate Recovery and Anaerobic Power as High Volume Low Intensity Training. Frontiers in Physiology, 8, 562.

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