Interval training and HIIT (high intensity interval training) are all the rage these days and I’m no exception in believing the benefits. It’s simple to do, doesn’t take a lot of time and you don’t need equipment. You can use your body and the willingness to push hard for short periods of time; intervals.
Some of the benefits of HIIT workouts, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, are aerobic and anaerobic fitness, better blood pressure, increased cardiovascular health, increased insulin sensitivity (opposite of insulin resistance or pre-diabetes), better cholesterol profiles and decreased body fat while strengthening muscles. Seems like the best thing you can do for yourself, right? Well, it’s one of the better things, for sure.
I’m an endurance athlete, yoga teacher and personal trainer. I always have my clients do a HIIT routine at least once a week. Depending on what they are training for and what their physical load will be, I will prescribe 1-3 routines. For a HIIT workout, you can use it in running, cycling, swimming, hiking, rowing, cross-country skiing and more.
Other benefits of the HIIT workouts are increased calorie burn. Though there is debate, some studies show that you continue to burn calories even after your workout. Your HIIT training is going to make you a better runner or cyclist for the long haul. Studies show that 8-12 reps of intensity will increase your overall fitness levels. For instance, if you do a cycling HIIT workout, you’ll ride better on your longer ride such as a century or an Ironman. Your running HIIT workout will help your marathon times, etc.
Once a week is enough if you’re mixing up your workouts and including hiking, running, cycling, yoga, etc. It’s a great way to build muscle and build aerobic ability. You may remember sprints on the track from junior high and high school. Those are perfect HIIT workouts and they always made it easier to run your 5k. An easy one is 100 meter sprint followed by 100 meter jog. Otherwise know as “sprint the straights, jog the rounds.”
The instructions are simple:
a. warm up for at least 3 minutes (cycling, jogging, running in place, etc.)
b. use 30-60 second intervals of almost sprinting (it doesn’t work if you don’t work hard)! You want to make yourself as uncomfortable as you can handle for the said length of time.
c. rest for 60-75 seconds, but you’ll continue moving. If you use a heart rate monitor, your rest would be about 40% below your max. i.e. easy jog, steady pedaling.
d. repeat the sprinting at least 8 times working your way up to 15.
e. cool down with a few minutes of your desired discipline.
You can use air squat variations as well. Feel free to mix it up and create variety. Do the workouts anywhere, anytime! To reap the most results do the routine for at least 20 minutes. There are no excuses not to get that heart pumping! Start with your daily walk and add some power walking. However you need to do it, make it happen and let me know how it goes!! I’m on twitter @teddymcdonald