Are you still hitting the gym 5-6 days a week working on that old
New Year's resolution?
Are you spending an hour or more on cardio equipment at the gym
and still not getting the results you want?
To improve fitness the belief has always been to increase the volume
of exercise to progress
. . . . more time on that elliptical machine.
It starts to feel like a waste of time.
Everyone is trying to save time or make time in their busy schedules.
So how about a workout that gets better results in less time?
There is an easier and better way to get fit and lose weight that doesn't
require hours at the gym. . . . I'm talking a 20 minute workout with
It's still going to require effort, in fact maximum effort on your part.
HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts are short rounds of
high effort exercise followed by periods of recovery.
A 12 week HIIT study showed improvements in cardiorespiratory
endurance to a degree that reduces risk of death from various types
of heart disease and stroke. It was shown to be equal to or better
than steady, prolonged cardio in the following areas:
- Increased strength of the heart muscle
- Better utilization of oxygen for energy production
- Improved muscle strength
- Decreased blood pressure and cholesterol
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved lean muscle mass
- Decreased body fat percentage
Perhaps the most talked about effect of HIIT training is the metabolic
adaptation. This is your bodies ability to burn fat for fuel during and
after exercise. HIIT was found to be more effective than continuous
exercise in burning visceral fat (the fat around your stomach and organs)
that leads to diabetes and heart disease.
During prolonged cardio your body produces hormones that tell your body
not to burn anymore fat. This was helpful when we had to hunt and gather
for our food. Besides, the calories the cardio machine says you are burning
is likely higher than reality.
During HIIT, your body doesn't have time to make these adaptations.
In addition, after you stop exercising your body will continue to burn more
calories as it works to recover from your maximum effort activity. This makes
HIIT the most effective work out plan when trying to lose weight.
When incorporating HIIT into your workouts, it is important to chose the
right level of intensity and frequency. Studies have found that just 3 sessions
a week, provide the most benefit for participants who performed this
training. It was also found that there was increased pleasure, enjoyment, and
beneficial psychological affects. This prescription of 3 sessions a week lasting
20 minutes each resulted in increased exercise adherence due to the decreased
There should be a careful progression of activity when starting any exercise
program. Beginning with HIIT after a prolonged immobility or sedentary lifestyle
may increase chances for injury or muscle soreness. If this is you, start with a
continuous aerobic exercise at low intensity levels. Once you are able to sustain
the activity (such as walking on the treadmill) for 30 minutes with moderate
intensity, progress to interval training.
Next time you jump on the treadmill, give this HIIT workout a try:
- 5 minute warm up at a comfortable walk or jog
- Increase incline to 5% and a speed of 3mph
- 1 minute increase speed to 5-6.5 mph
- 1 minute back at 3mph (keeping 5% incline throughout)
- Repeat 1 minute rest and 1 minute work for 6 rounds
- If this is too much, you can do 1 minute work and 2 minutes rest
- Cool down for 5-10 minutes at an easy jog or walk
When choosing an exercise regimen of running, biking, interval training, or weight
lifting the most important thing is that you choose an exercise you enjoy and are
likely to stick with. Regular physical activity will always provide more health
benefits than sporadic bouts.
Staying active will pay off! Those who are physically active tend to live longer,
healthier lives, with improved quality of life. If you need help getting started, or
screened for injury prevention, click HERE to contact one of our Movement