HIIT or high intensity interval training took the fitness industry by storm a few years ago. Exercise enthusiasts everywhere jumped on the bandwagon once they realized they could burn more calories and get fitter faster by doing short bursts of intense cardio instead of the old school way of boring, steady state cardio.
HIIT is one of the most effective ways to burn fat, increase aerobic capacity (VO2 Max) and boost your basal metabolic rate so your body will keep burning calories long after you've left the gym.
Another form of interval training that's been around just as long, but who's acronym never quite caught on the same, is SMIT or supramaximal interval training.
The difference between HIIT and SMIT is that during HIIT you perform high intensity exercise intervals interspersed with low to moderate intensity recovery phases, also known as active recovery. And during SMIT you perform maximal intensity (all out) intervals interspersed with rest periods that involve zero activity.
A 2013 study
from the European Journal of Sport Science took an in depth look at the endurance and sprint benefits of both high intensity and supramaximal interval training. The study found that SMIT provided the greatest benefits for physically active individuals for concurrent improvements in endurance (especially in women), sprint and repeated sprint performances.
What does this mean in layman's terms?!?
Well you'll get more bang for your buck if you push yourself to your ABSOLUTE MAX during your intervals. And by completely resting in between with zero activity you're able to recover faster and perform the next interval at the same or nearly the same intensity.
I prefer doing SMIT over HIIT when I'm doing my cardio at the gym. I almost always sprint on the treadmill for my interval training and find I can push myself harder and run faster when I know I can jump off and straddle the treadmill between sprints. It's also a lot easier to just set the treadmill to a certain speed and leave it there for the duration of my intervals rather than having to speed up and slow down the tempo between each one.
Another really effective form of SMIT is the Tabata Protocol
. The Tabata Protocol is a series of 8 max effort 20 second intervals followed 10 seconds of rest for a total time of 3 minutes and 50 seconds. The Tabata Protocol was developed by a Japanese man named Izumi Tabata and has been proven to be one of the most effective fat burning methods.
Whether you decide to try SMIT on the treadmill, out on a track, on the rowing machine or by doing a short tabata workout, I promise you won't be disappointed! You'll be able to push yourself out of your comfort zone and train at intensities beyond your expectations. The excess fat will start melting off your body and you'll give yourself a super dose of "feel good" endorphins!! So enjoy, be safe and most important... have fun!