Have you been HIIT yet?
Fitness enthusiasts around the world swear on their newest pair of running shoes that a High Intensity Interval Training ( HIIT ) session is the pathway to the higher realms of fitness.
“Usain Bolt style Intensity”
To put it simply this is a MORE INTENSE version of your usual cardio workout, shrunk into small manageable blasts of exercise. We are talking Usain Bolt style intensity for not much longer than the length of time it takes him to complete 200 meters, just don’t expect to look quite so relaxed afterwards, your heart is going to be beating to the rhythm of the jungle and you will be covered in sweat.
These short sessions of intense exercise usually last between 20 seconds and 2 minutes followed by a rest period that can vary between half the length of time the exercise takes up to twice as long as the exercise itself. Usually this time is spent gulping down some water faster than you ever have before.
An increase in blood glucose levels always sounds good but the most prominent benefit of a HIIT workout is that you will definitely notice muscle endurance increase. This leads to the greater ability to be able to push yourself harder for longer but with the right frame of mind and focus it also means the blood sweat and tears is coming to get you.
In certain cultures a burp after a meal is a compliment to the chef. In fitness, sweat is the holy grail handed by the black knight himself to the fitness instructor or pioneer of that particular workout.
Interval training has been used for a long time in athletic training programs which require short bursts of fast paced movements in the actual sport itself. You don’t see a baseball player running around for a long period of time at a slow pace or a quarterback strolling towards a forward pass.
For years these sportsmen and women use fast sprint training for a short duration and other exercises which can be as simple as press ups or lunges performed continuously for a period of time that usually coincides with your muscles starting to fatigue.
If you are serious about trying out HIIT you should make sure you meet the following criteria for your own safety and to be sure a more gentle approach isn’t better suited to you.
– If you’ve forgot the definition of exercise and haven’t been increasing your heart rate regularly with cardio work such as jogging, spin classes or a game of tennis then you are much better off starting with a brisk walk or light jog and a gradually increase the time spent exercising until you have plucked off the cobwebs.
– Often a HIIT exercises might include press ups, burpees and squats that are performed continuously for a length of time, often 30-60 seconds. This is where the intensity comes into play, put all your energy and determination into these exercises and make sure when the timer beeps that you have no choice but to rest
– Awareness of your own capabilities is really important. If you struggle to do a couple of press ups, it’s better to build up to be able to do some basic exercises first. Even a brisk stroll around the park is a great workout.
Many self titled fitness experts consider HIIT a great fat burner and newcomers are often sold on this partial misconception. Sure, if you’ve not been exercising, doing some exercise is going to burn fat to an extent but is it really the best exercise for fat burning?
It really isn’t, okay, it’s good but the best direct fat burning exercise is the one you do with your mouth by putting in much healthier food.
It has been scientifically proven that slow or moderately paced cardio workouts are great fat burners. Letting the heart rate rise, but not bringing it close to maximum will ensure the workout isn’t too intense and the fat will start to burn away. No one likes the idea of speed-walking around the park looking like the ideal American in the suburbs wearing a sweat band and a small dumbbell in each hand but it works and you are much less likely to get injured which is important if you want to burn fat. Time spent on the sofa nursing an injury means you are much more likely to put on weight.
If your goal is fat loss, you’ll lose some with HIIT but the muscle size will also increase so if you haven’t improved your diet significantly you might appear to actually get bigger as the muscles grow underneath. Don’t let that put you off, endurance training at a high intensity will ensure you are able to perform the less intense fat burning workouts for longer, your iron man times will increase and the jog around the park will seem that little bit easier.