Right off the bat, high-intensity interval training — or HIIT — is intimidating. But now is as good a time as any to lace up those sneakers and give yourself a pep talk, because the workout technique involves bursts of intense training mixed with more comfortable rest periods and is actually 100% beginner friendly. Plus, research shows it can improve athletic performance and cardiovascular health as well as rev your metabolism for hours. Not to mention, it can be a major time saver.
“Fitness is hard no matter what level you are,” says Meg Takacs, a New York City-based personal trainer. “HIIT training is great because you’re shocking the body. The more surprises you give it, instead of just steady-state walking, the more you confuse your muscles, which keeps your body from reaching a plateau.” This translates to better, more efficient results.
Here, Takacs outlines a 4-week HIIT walking plan that’s perfect for beginners. Throughout the plan, you’ll see a few different buzz words. We outline what those mean, here:
Recovery pace: Keep moving — no need to over-exert yourself. This pace often follows or precedes a high-intensity pace.
Conversational pace: This should be about a 4 out of 10 on the rate of perceived effort (RPE) scale. If you were to do this workout with a friend, you would be able to hold a conversation with no problem.
Concerted effort walking: Here, you’re starting to really move. This should be about a 5 out of 10 RPE. You’re trying, and may still be able to have a conversation, but it’s getting tough.
Speed walk: This is about a 7 out of 10 RPE. You are working hard and will not be able to maintain a steady conversation.
Tempo walk: This is about an 8 out of 10 RPE. This is the fastest you will push yourself during this plan.