By now you’ve heard of High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT as it’s commonly referred to. It’s had a huge surge in popularity in the fitness world and it’s not going away. It’s actually been around for a very long time, yes even before exercise was exercise. Back in the primitive days we humans would sprint to catch our food, then rest, sprint again, then rest, and so on. Our ancestors were doing intervals thousands of years ago. It turns out it’s a great way to stay healthy ward off the three main things that happen as we age, decreased cardiovascular health, loss of muscle mass, and increased body fat.
HIIT is pretty basic and anyone can do it, yes, even your aunt Sally who complains about the weather making her arthritis bad. She can mix some intervals into her daily walk. Now, if she doesn’t walk daily, she better start.
Here is a the basic structure of a HIIT session. We’ll use a 25 minute time span and as an example we’ll say you’re on a stationary bike. Remember, you can do this on a walk, on a run, on an elliptical, uphill, with specific exercises like plyometrics routines, and more. In fact, the New York Times recent created a 9 minute workout based on all the science behind HIIT. You can find it here. Start your routine with a nice easy 2-3 minute warm up to get the body warm, the muscles moving, and your blood pumping. Once you’re there break of the following 20-21 minutes in one of 4 ways:
- 1 minute of intensity followed by 1 minute of moving rest, 10 times;
- 2 minutes of intensity followed by 1 minute of moving rest, 7 times;
- 3 minutes of intensity followed by 1 minute of moving rest, 5 times;
- 4 minutes of intensity followed by 1 minute of moving rest, 4 times.
Then you can finish with 2-3 minutes of a cool down and a stretch. There you have it, the basics behind High Intensity Interval Training. Now you just have to choose a sport or exercises and commit. I know, that’s the tough part. If you’re committed to your health and well being you are one of the few. Congratulations! Go get on your bike, do this on a walk/run, or check out my membership site here, where I have everything you need to stay healthy and fit. There are yoga videos, meditation, cooking, breathing, and of course, HIIT. If you make it there, search for plyo bootcamp.
Back to our workout, you cannot change the duration during the workout, you must choose wisely. You might want to start off with 1 minute intervals to see how you do. Let’s say you’re on a bicycle. Pedal easily as a warm up, then for that first minute of intense effort, make sure you can sustain that same pace for the following 9 sessions of intensity. The idea is to make it a challenge, but not to burn out before the workout is over.
Science shows that by practicing HIIT you will slow down the three main things that happen as we age. First, we begin to loose aerobic capacity and it gets harder to breathe. The workouts should be intense enough to get your heart rate high. Think of this as a workout for your heart. Second, we start loosing muscle mass. By exercising, especially in this way, you’ll build strength because you’re using your body weight as resistance thus increasing your strength and muscle mass. And finally, we gain body fat. The HIIT will burn the unwanted fat in your body keeping you lean. All this starts happening in our 40’s and 50’s then continues until we die. The idea of slowing down as you age only helps you age. The key, in my opinion, is to increase your recovery time, not decrease your intensity.
HIIT sessions are the best most user friendly way to stay fit. Anyone can do them, at pretty much any time they choose. If you have trouble, or you know someone who does, I’m happy to help. Send me a message here or on social media @teddymcdonald. The time has come that we help each other get fit, stay fit, and live healthy awesome lives!
Originally published on the author’s website.