Can’t keep up with the HIIT jargon? Use this glossary to skip the workout confusion


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The obsession with acronyms is real these days: There’s FOMO, JOMO, FOBO, as well as BDE and BBE. And the workout community is no exception. When it comes to increasing your heart’s BPMs, the shorthands all seem to be derived from one sweaty source: HIIT or high-intensity interval training.

If you thrive on super-intense workouts that take your breath away in 20 minutes or less, HIIT and all its relatives might already be in your toolbox. Just in case you’re still confounded by the jargon though (EMOM, HILIT—what?), below you’ll find a  master glossary of all your options so you can choose which one (or combo) is right for you.

HIIT, HILIT, HVIT? Here’s how to decipher each heart-pumping workout.

what are hiit workouts
Photo: Getty Images/Aleksandar Georgiev

HIIT

Let’s start with the basics. HIIT is all about high energy output with extremely short recoveries in between each circuit. (Translation: The workout’s fly by, and could not be easier to squeeze into your day.) Pros will tell you that if you’re not dusted by the end of a 30-minute sesh, you might consider dialing up the difficulty—not the time—in your next session. One HIIT workout might take you from squats, to split lunges, to reverse planks, and so on. And the fun part of these workouts is that once you’ve mastered 20 or so moves, you can totally go freestyle and design your own workouts.

HILIT

If burpees are so not your cup of tea, you might just love HILIT (high-intensity, low-impact) workouts. HILIT is designed to give your joints a break, but still keep you squarely in the fat-burning zone. And thus, you’ll never have both feet off the ground at the same time in these circuits, but a 30-minute class can still burn 500 calories. Think: pushups, sumo squats, and tricep dips.

HVIT

The “V” here stands for volume, so this acronym shakes out to be high-volume intensity training. According to Popsugar, this style is all about fat-burning, building lean muscle, and making your heart rate spike for the ultimate afterburn. By working at 60 to 75 percent of your maximum effort, you can actually sustain this type for longer than HIIT and take a shorter break of active recovery (i.e., light movement of some kind in between each). Like HIIT and HILIT, 30-minute sessions are considered the maximum.

EMOM

EMOM, or “every minute on the minute” workouts reward those who complete their reps quickly. Once you’ve done your prescribed 20 crunches, for example, you have the rest of the minute to recover before the next workout will be kicked your way. These workouts generally last the same amount of time as the above workouts and include all the moves you love to hate like plank-jacks, mountain climbers, and single-legged squats.

Tabata

Alright, alright: So Tabata doesn’t stand for anything. This style actually breaks the pattern by taking its name from the founder, Izumi Tabata. Each workout starts out with a 10-minute warm up to boost your heart rate from the get-go. Next, you complete one exercise at your maximum intensity (like, can-barely-breath intensity) for 20 seconds with a 10-second break, then repeat that 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. The point here is to completely burn out a single muscle group before moving onto the next. So just stack 4 or 5 moves together, and you’ll be all set for a full-body burn.

No matter which flavor of HIIT you choose, make sure you’re breathing right. And if you’ve never tried the super-sweaty workout before, consider this happiness-boosting circuit your starting line.

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