Why HIIT is the best workout to stay fit while travelling

During a long haul flight, it's not just passengers who get restless – it's the pilot, too.

Pilot Dan Boland, 30, can sometimes be found "in the crew bunks onboard the plane below the main passenger cabin, doing high intensity interval training (HIIT)" – as the plane soars through the sky and the passengers are blissfully unaware.

(Fear not, though: the plane isn't driverless while he's puffing through some tabata; pilots get five to seven hours of rest during long haul flights.)

It's one of the many benefits of HIIT – it can be done anywhere, with little or no equipment. Boland, who also runs travel website says: "Instead of doing star jumps due to the limited space, I modify it to a ski motion exercise."

The traveller's way of staying toned

For those like Boland with busy lifestyles involving frequent travel interstate or overseas, a gym routine can be hard to maintain. Many hotels don't have gyms, or if they do, they're horrendously over-crowded (if they're good) or woefully under-equipped (if they're bad).

Boland says: "I typically spend around 10 days per month in hotels and spend around 80 hours per month in the skies. Due to my tiring and busy schedule I find it difficult to keep up a regular workout routine or go to a regular gym at my homebase. Out of frustration with hotel gyms I was forced to take up HIIT workouts from my hotel room."

Why HIIT is such a hit

HIIT is all the rage in the fitness world, but in case you've ducked the trend, Personal Trainer Neil Peters, 31, aka Mr Muscle, sums up why: "HIIT is great as it can work both aerobic and anaerobic systems, doesn't require a gym or gym equipment, has a low risk of injury, can be done in under 10 minutes and is a sure-fire way to burn a lot of energy."

It involves short bursts of intense activity followed by a longer period of rest, repeated until exhaustion; it's believed that this 'interval' style training aids weight loss because the heart is shocked into 80% of its maximum capacity, in between those mini breaks to bring it back down again.

Stephen Boutcher, associate professor of medical sciences at the University of New South Wales in Australia, discusses why HIIT may outperform traditional cardio when it comes to fat loss: A HIIT-induced surge "can increase fat burning and energy expenditure for hours after exercise."


HIIT your hotel room up

If you're stuck in a hotel with no gym or you only have half an hour in your lounge without enough time to get down to the gym, PT Neil Peters has these top tips for you:

Tip 1

"Work big muscle groups: bigger muscles require more energy to operate. So movements like push ups/ burpees/ high knees - will burn more energy than doing bench dips."

PT Clint Hill also worships the burpee: "There's no better way to getting results than an exercise like a burpee. A burpee is an example of a whole-body compound movement, activating multiple muscle groups at once to achieve best results. Jump squats work well too - they require little space and no equipment."

Tip 2

"Control your movements and use the least momentum possible. The more controlled the movements, the more we're able to concentrate on the muscles being worked and more we able to stimulate these and burn energy."

Tip 3

"Get creative – If you're relatively fit, make simple movements like push-up more difficult by raising your feet onto the bed or chair. Also challenge yourself. Try beat your previous best. 15 push-ups in a row today? Aim for 16 tomorrow."

Getting your timings right

If you're new to HIIT, there's still no excuse not to squeeze in half an hour before your conference from your hotel room. You don't even need gym kit, just do it in your pants; burpees and sprinting on the spot are excellent places to start.

Neil Peters recommends sprinting for 15 seconds then recovering for 45 seconds, and repeating this six times: "True HIIT is working till exhaustion, then allowing the body as much time needed to recover to be able to work at the same intensity/work-rate to exhaustion again." Clint Hill adds: "On average the body requires 3 times the amount of time spent working to recover.

Another option Peters suggests is three rounds of one minute on, one minute off - for a more circuit-training style approach.

The apps to help you

In reality, you need little more than a stop-watch, but there are, of course, some handy apps around to help you. A straight-forward one I use is called IntervalTimer.

Neil Peters has his own – the Mr Mrs Muscle app, but also recommends Tabata Training.

So what are you waiting for? Plug in your 15 second/45 second active/rest sessions and get those burpees going.

The guest below you in the Hyatt is going to really love you.