Are you tired of doing the same old workout routine with little to no results? You repeat the same refrain over and over: “I’ve got to increase my ‘cardio’ if I’m going to lose weight.” Folks wind up spending what amounts to hours on a treadmill or running the streets in hopes of getting what they want. What if there is a more efficient way to reach your fitness goals?
You’ve probably heard about High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – bouts of high-intensity effort followed by varied recovery intervals. Its popularity is on the rise. Unfortunately, some think of it as an exercise regimen for only the super fit. That’s not true. HIIT can be modified for all fitness levels and special conditions such as diabetes and obesity. If finding enough time to work out is your challenge, and you want quicker results, you might consider making HIIT part of your exercise routine.
HIIT improves cardiovascular health, respiratory endurance, and metabolic function
THE BENEFITS OF HIIT
The HIIT protocol is a super-effective metabolism booster, but what sets it apart from other workouts is its ability to keep the body burning fat even after the workout is done. Other benefits include:
• Lose Body Weight & Abdominal Fat
• Increase Aerobic & Anaerobic Endurance
• Gain Muscle & Strength
• Improve Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Health
• Improve Insulin Sensitivity
• Improve Cholesterol Profiles
WHAT IS A HIIT WORKOUT?
Each workout is made up of short bouts or ‘bursts’ of exercise followed by brief recovery periods. This sequence is repeated several times for 20-30 minutes. ‘Intense’ exercise modes can vary – running, walking, elliptical cross-training, swimming, etc. Imagine packing a 45-minute jog into a 10- to 20-minute routine.
One study had healthy yet sedentary subjects perform 10- to 20-second bouts of intense effort on a stationary bike three days a week for six weeks – each bout broken up by a couple minutes of rest. Total workout time? 10 minutes…start to finish. It was enough to significantly improve their blood sugar scores and aerobic capacity.
HOW HIIT WORKS
During a HIIT workout, your ‘all-out’ effort keeps your heart rate up and increases your body’s need for oxygen. What happens next may sound bad, but it’s a good thing in terms of outcome. Your body experiences an oxygen shortage and is unable to supply enough blood or oxygen to all the muscles. In turn, the oxygen deprivation causes your body to need more oxygen during rest and recovery. This process is good because it creates an ‘afterburn effect’ or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). It allows your body to become a fat-burning machine while it’s at rest.
WHO IS HIIT FOR?
THE FIT INDIVIDUAL:
A sprint-recovery interval program is a good place to start. Warm up with a few minutes of walking or jogging slowly. Then, sprint ‘all-out’ for 30 seconds…then, walk/jog for four minutes. Do four to six sets. (HINT: for a more advanced version, sprint for 20 seconds with two-minute recovery time. Do three sets.)
THE UNFIT INDIVIDUAL:
Sprinting may not be safe for your joints. Instead, to establish a foundational level of fitness, do 30 seconds to four minutes of brisk walking on an inclined treadmill or hill. Work up to a base level of fitness where you can exercise at a vigorous intensity for 20-60 minutes per session three to five times a week. NOTE: If you’re overweight or physically inactive, you may need medical clearance from a physician before engaging in HIIT or any exercise program.
WHY HIIT IS EFFECTIVE
HIIT is a well-researched protocol with benefits that outweigh traditional steady-state aerobic exercise when it comes to improving aerobic capacity and energy expenditure after exercise. One study concluded that HIIT helps build muscle while traditional aerobic workouts break muscle down.
Whether your goal is to improve your overall fitness, lower your risk for heart disease, increase your metabolism, or get your blood sugar under control, HIIT is as effective as longer periods of moderately-paced, traditional aerobic exercise – running, cycling, swimming, etc. Most of all, it’s quick, convenient, and no equipment is required.