Here’s how to try the HIIT workout trend if you’ve never done it (and TBH it scares you)

If you’re like us, there’s something about how “HIIT” rolls off the tongue that makes the workout seem intimidating AF. Sure, that’s before knowing a single thing about the sweat sesh — like what H.I.I.T. even means — but hearing that phrase tossed around and nodding as if we came up with the idea is not cutting it anymore.

We wanted to know about the workout craze that has introduced popular studios, such as Barry’s Bootcamp, Training Mate, and Speedplay, into everyday conversations before making any proper judgments — so we went straight to the source. We chatted up bombshell trainer Astrid Swan after one of her famous HIIT workouts, and got the download on why spiking that heart rate through a HIIT class is really not as scary as it sounds.

HelloGiggles: What is a HIIT workout?

Astrid Swan: A HIIT workout is High Intensity Interval Training; we’re going to get the heart rate up, then we’re going to get the heart rate down. It’s going to be a shorter workout; instead of going for a 45-minute run, we can knock out a HIIT in 15-20 minutes. I love it because it’s more bang for your buck, and my time is very limited. It is also a great workout to do at home.

HG: What should someone expect from her first HIIT workout?

AS: It depends on the class you are doing. You can do a HIIT workout with kettle bells, dumbbells, [or] body weight, and that changes everything. Each class is going to spike your heart rate at one point, then there will be some toning or strength exercise and spiking your heart rate up again.

HG: Any advice for when you first walk in the door?

AS: Always introduce yourself to the instructor because it’s our job to let you know what you’re in for. So if you are brand new, the trainer will help you along the way. Remember that we don’t start at 60 mph, we start at zero and progress from there.

HG: What are some misconceptions you’ve seen surrounding the workout, with women specifically?

AS: People in general can get afraid of fitness and anything that’s outside their comfort zone. With a HIIT workout, you have less chance of getting an injury if you’re doing everything correctly, because you aren’t doing it for a long time. Don’t be afraid to work out. Don’t be afraid to sweat. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. Get outside your comfort zone because that’s the only way to get change.

HG: How often should someone do HIIT to see results?

AS: That depends on the individual. If you just started working out and you do a HIIT workout twice a week, you’re going to see results. If you’re already on a routine you might do a HIIT workout 3-5 times a week. It will be tailored to what you’re currently doing. I probably work out five times a week and three of those workouts are HIIT.

HG: What are some other good workouts to couple with HIIT?

AS: The key is finding balance without getting that overuse injury. I love yoga; I think it’s great for your mentality, your sleep pattern, and your flexibility. If I just do yoga, I need to lift heavy. So I might do yoga on Sunday, then very heavy strength training on Monday followed with a HIIT workout on Tuesday and go from there. Also remember, your muscles need rest to grow.

HG: How do you feel about cheat days?

AS: I personally don’t do cheat days because it doesn’t make me feel good the next day. [But] I also don’t limit myself from things that I want. Understanding that the food is important to my workout and the workout is important to my mentality and they all come together. I eat every three hours to keep my blood sugar levels consistent. It keeps your metabolism and mood up. I don’t follow trends. I drink a lot of water. I don’t deprive myself but I don’t YOLO and take it to the extreme. If I want to have a piece of chocolate, I’m going to have a piece of chocolate…I’m not going to have the whole aisle of chocolate.

HG: How has your modeling career helped you as a trainer?

AS: As a model, I was big in the sense that I’m athletic, but as a trainer, I’m considered small. My agents would yell at me and measure me so I started working out. Nobody else in my industry was working out, they were starving themselves or smoking cigarettes. I started going to the gym, paying attention to the kitchen, and eventually training my roommates. When I moved to Los Angeles, I knew that so many people will panic before a shoot and I wanted to be ready anytime my agent called or I was up for a job. I wasn’t going to panic and go on a juice cleanse, do five-hour workouts a day, and sit in the sauna. I still tell my clients, ‘If you’re consistent, you never have to panic.’

HG: What would you tell someone who is reluctant to try a HIIT class?

AS: I tell anyone who is starting fitness at any level, be kind to yourself, treat yourself like you would your best friend. We’ve all been at that starting point. Try it. We were all afraid to drive a car for the first time. Pedal to the metal, let’s do this.