Wednesday, February 1, 2012

HIIT is one of those things that amazingly fit people keep secret from the rest of us.

The Photo*
To the left you see a marathoner. Endurance training (or extended steady state cardio) tends to put the body in a catabolic state which means your body begins to feed on the energy stored in its own muscles causing a person to be skinny but not defined or muscular.

On the right is a sprinter. Sprinting is a very good form of HIIT training.
As long as a persons is properly nourished with the right balance of protein and carbohydrates HIIT tends to burn the bodies fat stores without tapping into its muscles. Therefore it does not diminish the size or integrity of the muscle.

Exercise in general no matter what type will yield great benefits. Any type of cardio, for example, will work the heart and lungs, burn fat and enhance your overall quality of life. But when a person hits a certain level and wants to up "their game" HIIT is a great way to do that but HIIT is usually not for exercise newbies.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is ideal for certain types of people.
  • those who have already lost weight and are wanting to melt away those last pounds.
  • those who are injury free and know how to listen to their bodies
  • those who do not have a lot of time but want to burn more calories
  • those who like to push their bodies to their limit or at least like the benefits of doing so
HIIT training according to wikipedia is a warm up followed by about 15-20 minutes of high intensity exercise alternated with medium intensity exercise then ending with a cool down. It is something you can do on almost any type of cardio equipment. I have done it on spin bikes, treadmills, arch trainers and ellipticals. It can be done with an aerobic step in a group fitness setting or at home by yourself. I have read recommendations for 3 times a week but personally I believe that one or two times a week is sufficient and any more than this can inhibit muscle repair. I also feel like I get joint pain if I don't alternate my HIIT days with a type of steady state cardio which still has a place in my exercise program. True HIIT training doesn't last for more than 20 minutes. A person should be exhausted by then.

The Benefits of HIIT

Burn's fat more efficiently -Scientists are not exactly sure why but HIIT seems to burn fat more efficiently during the workout than steady state cardio.

Burns more fat after the exercise- After HIIT the body tends to continue to tap into fat stores all day long. Steady state cardio at lower intensities has a much more limited after burn.

The following benefits I took from an article written by Marc Perry of References for his article are below. I felt like he explains it much better than I can

Increased Aerobic Capacity – The amount of oxygen your body can use (oxygen uptake) is increased, so your overall aerobic capacity can increase faster than with just jogging
Increased Lactate Threshold – Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles substantially increases
Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Your muscles more readily suck in glucose, instead of the glucose going to your fat stores
Anabolic Effect – Some studies show that interval training combined with consuming slightly more calories than you burn creates an anabolic effect, which helps you put on muscle without putting on fat. The opposite occurs with steady state cardio, which for long durations is catabolic, thus stripping away all that hard earned muscle you have (just see the picture of the marathoner above)"

I would start out with only one HIIT session per week and move on from there. There are many articles and sample HIIT workouts available just google HIIT and you will find plenty to choose from!

A personal Twist

Exercise is definitely my thing. Eating clean is not. Eating clean is still new to me and I am early in my journey of learning how to enjoy it. But it is my goal to love eating clean as much as I love exercise.

I have tried almost everything, exercise wise, and I have taught almost every type of group fitness class. I have done so many things "the wrong way" that I wish to spare others from exercising below their potential for most of their lives like I did.

Most of my life I have done steady state cardio. I didn't know that there was more to cardio then keeping your heart rate in the same spot for an extended period of time. When I moved to Texas and auditioned as a group fitness instructor for a high end club they immediately put me through a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) course. I didn't know what I was in for. The woman that taught the class was in her late fifties so I didn't expect what came next. This 50 something swept the gym floor with me. As the class commenced I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out, which ever one came first. I was drenched in sweat, which my exercise friends can tell you that I really don't sweat that much, so it was a surprise for me. After the initial recovery I came to love this form of exercise and since I have adopted it into my routine I have seen some great changes!

At one point I began to wonder if HIIT is one of those things that the fit people keep secret from the rest of us. That they must like to see us bust our bodies doing steady state cardio only to eat into our muscles and undo our weight training workouts. But then I realized that I have been surrounded by it for years but I just wasn't listening. I thought endurance training was the only way to prove ones self and get the best physical results. Boy was that far off from what I think now...although I still love running!!! Don't get me wrong, marathoning and steady state cardio still have their place. Marathoning is grueling and takes a very tough person mentally. It should not be ignored especially if a person has a talent in that my running friends. They are absolutely amazing and it takes a lot of work to get that amazing. But for those whose goal is to build more muscle HIIT may be worth a try.

*Picture taken from Check out his program. It looks pretty good to me!


Shelene said...

I am new to the 6 days a week, regular work outs. Before they were once a month regular workouts. My trainer has me do one minute sprints, then a walk or run to get my heart rate back down. (for me it is 143 now) and I do that for twenty minutes. Over time, my heart will get healthier and come down faster, so I will fit more sprints in.

Amanda said...

I am a huge fan of intereval/plyometric type exercise. That is how I've kept 45 pounds off for about 7 years. It is more interesting and fun, in my opinion then running for ever and ever! I can do a little of that and maintain pretty easily. I don't do as much strength training as I should but hey-the weight stays off:) Thanks for the post!

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