Short-burst exercise isn’t only perfect for those short on time — it’s also a flawless match for those looking to add variety to their workouts. Like all good things, HIIT (short for High-Intensity Interval Training) comes in a range of different forms, with a wide span of benefits. Tabata, EMOM, AMRAP: each HIIT-inspired workout has its own benefits.
Depending on who you talk to, high-intensity exercise can mean many things – and it’s easy to get your cardio confused. EMOM? AMRAP? All these acronyms make fitness lingo less wordy, but there’s a lot to remember, TBH.
To make HIIT simpler, let’s break down the quick and sweaty details of interval training, as well as its three most popular variations.
What, exactly, is HIIT, IRL?
You may already know this, but a reminder of the science is always helpful.
HIIT’s been around for a long time, taking the form of short bursts of intense activity combined with periods of rest. Often involving a combination of cardio workouts and strength training, it’s a dream form of exercise for anyone wanting to boost cardio and muscular endurance.
Typically, a HIIT session takes less than 30 minutes to complete – with no longer than 20 seconds of 110% effort and 10 seconds of rest.
Why do HIIT?
HIIT’s well-loved for the way it helps you burn a lot of calories, even up to 24 hours after the end of your workout. This is thanks to a nifty process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. From better brainpower to lower blood pressure, the health effects of HIIT are plentiful. At EVO, we’re also big fans of functional workouts that defy the rules of using fitness equipment. After all, HIIT is a great way to perform bodyweight exercises.
Tabata, EMOM & AMRAP: 3 variations of HIIT
Tabata: 20 on, 10 off
It’s one of the most common forms of training to fall under the HIIT umbrella.
A fat-burning, fitness-boosting exercise developed by Dr Izumi Tabata, who studied two groups of speed skaters – one exercised for an hour at medium intensity, the other followed his Tabata approach, as follows:
- 20 seconds of flat-out exercise at maximum intensity (pushing yourself to 110%)
- 10 seconds of rest
- Repeat for 4 minutes in total
The latter group (those following the Tabata model) increased both anaerobic and aerobic levels significantly more than the first group, proving shorter exercise periods with high-intensity activity was the way to go. (Thanks, Dr Tabata!)
EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute)
EMOM stands for ‘every minute on the minute’. Let us explain – you complete a specific number of reps of a particular exercise within 60 seconds. You can then use whatever time is left within that minute (if there is any) to rest before moving on to the next set of reps.
If you love a challenge, EMOM is the one. The slower you are at completing your reps, the less time you’ll have to rest!
AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible)
By its definition, you can immediately tell that this type of HIIT workout means no rest until the clock stops. An AMRAP session can be a segment in your training session or a complete workout. This means you can have a 5-minute abs AMRAP within a more extensive workout, or it can be a 20-minute full-body session.
The R in AMRAP can stand for reps or rounds — and that can alter your training session significantly. For example, an AMRAP based on repetitions can be a period to perform as many reps of specific exercises as possible during that time. As for the one consisting of rounds, you get a pre-planned number of reps for a different number of exercises, and you must do as many rounds as possible during the overall time of that AMRAP.
Making the most out of HIIT
You can burn even more fat and calories while working more muscles at once with mixed HIIT. Think of it as a hybrid fitness session, combining different protocols and workouts into one session. For example, alternate intensive sprints with slower-paced yoga, or mix steady-state cardio with high-intensity lifting to fire up different parts of your body.