Find the Perfect Work-to-Rest Ratio for Your HIIT Session

Find the Best Work-to-Rest Ratio for Your HIIT Session

The first thing to do when you are looking at your HIIT session is to determine what type of exercise you will perform. If it’s just a regular cardio session then there isn’t much point in doing any kind of interval training because you’ll only burn calories while running or jogging around. However if your goal is to lose weight, increase strength, improve endurance, etc.

then you need to incorporate some form of HIIT training into your routine.

When it comes to finding the right work-to-rest ratio for your session, there are two main factors that have to be considered. First is the duration of time that you want to spend working out and secondly is the amount of time that you want to spend resting before starting again. The following table lists several different ratios which can be used depending upon your goals and personal preferences.

HIIT Interval Ratio Rest Time Between Sets 1:2:3:4:5 1 minute 30 seconds 15 minutes 10 minutes 5 minutes 3 minutes 2:1 4:1 8:1 16:1 32 hours 20 hours 12 hours

You may notice that the numbers listed above are all multiples of one another. For example, you could choose to perform three sets of five reps with 60 second rests between each set. This would be the same as doing one set of 15 reps since 60 divided by 5 equals 12 and multiples of 12 are all multiples of each other.

In any case you should find a combination that works well for you and remember that it may take some time to tweak things so that you are performing at your peak during every interval. Also keep in mind that your chosen intervals don’t have to follow a strict pattern either. For example you could do two sets of three reps with 90 second rests and then follow that up with one set of eight reps with a two minute rest.

The varying intervals will keep your body guessing and help to prevent your sessions from becoming boring or predictable.

It’s also important to note that the above information is just for cardio training. If you are doing anaerobic exercises then shorter intervals with longer rests are going to be best for building strength and muscle. Longer intervals with shorter rests are going to be better for those that are trying to lose weight or improve their endurance.

Find the Perfect Work-to-Rest Ratio for Your HIIT Session - Image

Don’t Forget to Warm Up and Cool Down

It may seem obvious, but it’s absolutely essential that you don’t start off with a HIIT session right away. Just like with regular strength training you have to warm up your body and increase your heart rate gradually. A proper HIIT warm up could include jumping jacks, jogging in place or even light jumping rope.

You should also never begin a HIIT session without cooling down and stretching afterwards. Even if you’re not worried about injury you need to take time to reduce your heart rate and loosen up your muscles. A good cool down could involve slow jogging in place, followed by some light static stretching .

This will increase your flexibility and reduce the risk of injury in the long-term.

Even five to ten minutes of light activity will help your muscles and cardiovascular system to recover.

Scheduling HIIT Sessions

If you’ve ever worked out before, then you probably know that you need to allow time for it in your day. This is especially true if you want to see results from your training because you’ll need to be consistent with it. The same principle holds true with HIIT.

You can’t expect to only do this on the weekends. You’re going to have to specifically schedule it into your day so you can get the most out of it.

If you can only spare a half hour in the morning, then you should probably do that instead of trying to squeeze it in later in the day. Your morning is probably already filled with activity and if you add HIIT to that then you’ll be too tired by the time evening comes. On the other hand if you have to get up extra early for a morning workout then your body will still be revved up when you get home so you may not want to do a second session.

At least not right away.

Happy exercising!

Sources & references used in this article:

The effects of high intensity interval-based kettlebells and battle rope training on grip strength and body composition in college-aged adults by J Quednow, T Sedlak, J Meier… – … Journal of Exercise …, 2015 –

The effects of high intensity interval training on muscle size and quality in overweight and obese adults by MNM Blue, AE Smith-Ryan, ET Trexler… – Journal of science and …, 2018 – Elsevier

Aerobic and anaerobic changes with high-intensity interval training in active college-aged men by E Ziemann, T Grzywacz, M Luszczyk… – The Journal of …, 2011 –

Sex-specific responses to self-paced, high-intensity interval training with variable recovery periods by CM Laurent, LS Vervaecke, MR Kutz… – The Journal of Strength …, 2014 –

Effect of Work: Rest Ratio on Cycling Performance Following Sprint Interval Training: A Randomized Control Trial by MCL Jones, MG Morris… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2019 –