Everyone has their own preferred style of workout; some enjoy strapping on their trainers and heading out for a long run in the sunshine, other prefer being shouted at to spin harder in a darkened room, some would rather feel the burn at a chilled-out but challenging barre class. And then there’s HIIT. Cycling short bursts of high intensity training with rest periods, it’s commonly considered a more effective fat-burner than steady state cardio.
With studios all over London offering a range of HIIT classes, and a wide healthy selection of at-home YouTube workouts to follow, it won’t be hard to find a style to suit you. However, going into one of these classes for the first time can be intimidating, and not just because of the fear that everyone else will be lapping you – there’s words to get used to too.
What it means: As many rounds as possible
How it works: When you hear an instructor shout that it’s AMRAP time, it basically means that you’re about to do a set of circuits, as many times as possible, within a specific timeframe. Sometimes that could mean three minutes, sometimes it could be as long as twelve or fifteen. Next time you try it, you’ve got your own personal benchmark to beat.
What it means: Working as hard as possible, almost continuously, for the next four minutes
How It works: Named after Professor Izumi Tabata, the scientist who realised the power of super-short, sharp workouts, Tabata training requires working flat out for 20 seconds and then taking 10 seconds off, repeated for four minutes. Four minutes - that’s it. Sounds easy, huh? In fact, this style of HIIT is considered one of the more advanced and is not recommended for those just starting their fitness journey, due to its intensity.
What it means: Every minute, on the minute.
How it works: Structured into one-minute blocks, you’ll be given a specified set of exercises to complete before the time is up, for example, 10 jump squats, 10 burpees and 20 mountain climbers. The quicker you finish, the more rest you get, because when the minute buzzer hits, you start all over again. The irony? The further through it you get, the more desperate you are to finish your round – and the harder it is to do so.
What it means: Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption
By now you’ve probably heard that after an intense workout your body will continue to burn calories, even once you’re just going about your daily business. EPOC is the reason for this; it’s the process by which your body cools down and returns to a resting state. In short, it's explained by the fact that when you’re exercising your body converts oxygen into energy, causing you to take more on, and it still needs extra oxygen in order to cool down once more.
What it means: You’re going to ache. Okay, so it really stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, but it may as well do.
DOMS is that achy feeling that grips your muscles in the 24-48 hours after a hard workout – you know the one. It’s essentially small muscle tears, and while this may sound like a bad thing, it’s actually what causes them to grow back stronger. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to make it disappear more quickly (trust us, we’ve tried) but gentle exercise, such as swimming or yoga, or a long soak in a hot bath can all ease the pain.