Obesity is a major problem, not just in America, but also all around the world. Worse yet, this issue could lead to various health problems, including strokes, diabetes and heart conditions. Sadly, this affects not just adults, but also children as young as two years old. Because of this, people have come up with various campaigns, exercise routines and diet programs to help curb obesity.
However, these workout routines go beyond helping you shed unwanted pounds. More than that, these routines aim to develop a healthier you and make healthy living your way of life. An example of this is high intensity interval training or HIIT.
If you are into maximum fat loss while improving not just your health but also strength and stamina, then this workout is for you. Here are important facts you should know about HIIT.
1. HIIT Defined
High-intensity interval training or HIIT is a popular form of exercise that combines two effective fat-burning methods, high intensity and interval training.
High intensity training requires the maximum effort to achieve muscle fatigue and maximum use of oxygen.
This means the harder you work, the more oxygen your body will need, which triggers an afterburner effect. In this type of training, it is important to maintain the highest amount of oxygen your body consumes during exercise to maximize the after burn effect.
On the other hand, interval training is about alternating intense efforts from low to medium to intense. Experts say that alternating high and low intensity makes you burn more calories and boosts your metabolism faster. At the same time, it builds lean muscle tissues faster than a steady workout.
When combined, you will be able to maximize your body’s fat burning and muscle building potential at a shorter time.
2. The Core Principles Of HIIT
Just like any other effective exercise routines, high intensity interval training follows a set of principles, which will guide you to ensure that you could get the most out of this program.
You could change the numbers depending on your preference and workout style.
- Start by warming up for three minutes.
- For 30 straight seconds, workout as hard and as fast as you can until you feel you are gasping for your breath and could no longer go on for another second.
- Then, allow your body to recover for 90 seconds, but continue your routine in a slower pace and decreased resistance.
- Continue the high intensity and recovery routine three to eight times, depending on your capacity.
- For starters, you could start with three sets and gradually increase repetition until you are able to do eight sets.
- Thereafter, allow your body to cool down by reducing your intensity by as much as 80 percent.
3. Three Different Methods Of HIIT
Aside from the core principles of HIIT, this type of training has three different methods depending on your capacity. They are as follows:
- Tabata Method: Izumi Tabata developed this method in 1996. This method requires high intensity spurts for a total workout time of four minutes.
For instance, start with a three-minute warm-up,followed by 20 seconds of sprinting,and then finish it off with 10 seconds of walking. Do this cycle eight times. It works best for you if you are fit but you don’t have much time to exercise.
- Little Method: On 2009, Drs. Jonathan Little and Martin Gibala of the McMasters University Department of Kinesiology developed the Little method.
It requires 60 seconds of high intensity routine, followed by 75 seconds of low intensity. Do 12 cycles for 27 minutes three times a week. This is best if you could spare 30 minutes of your time and be open to doing flexible routines.
- Turbulence Training: If you could incorporate strength training in the HIIT routine itself, then this method is for you. Developed by former athlete Craig Ballantyne, the turbulence training requires alternating high weights then low strength training, coupled with high intensity cardio. The cardio-strength training combo will need 45 minutes of your time, three times a week.
4. The Many Benefits Of HIIT
The next question is what you can get from doing high intensity interval training. Here’s what you can expect:
- You could do an efficient workout during your lunch break. After all, interval training for 15 minutes is better and more effective than one hour in the treadmill.
- It burns more fat and calories.
- It improves your cardiovascular health.
- There is no fancy equipment necessary. You could run, bike, jog, jump rope and even row and still lose weight effectively. At the same time, you could do it anytime, anywhere without paying for expensive gym membership fees.
- You lose weight without worrying about losing your muscle tone.
- You increase your metabolism.
- It stimulates the production of human growth hormones by up to 450 percent.
- It challenges you and pushes you to do better.
- It maximizes both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
- It also affects muscle tissue at a cellular level. In fact, HIIT changes the mitochondrial activity in the muscles itself.
5. Frequency Of Training
No matter how promising HIIT is, experts agree that you should do this only two to three times a week, depending on your chosen method. When you plan to do the routine depends on you and your availability. Since this is a high-intensity workout, it only follows that you should allow your body to rest and recover.
Still, this doesn’t mean you could sit around during downtime. You need to challenge your muscles during off days to prevent plateau in your fitness growth. Here are some of the routines you could do alternately with HIIT:
- Stretching –Stretching helps your body get ready for daily activity and allows your body to repair itself. At the same time, stretching works on your body’s natural physiological makeup, thereby improving blood circulation and your muscle joints’ elasticity.
- Core Exercises –Did you know that your body has 29 core muscles? These core muscles, which include the pelvis, back and abdomen, are your body’s foundation for movement. Strengthen these muscles to achieve better balance and stability and makes you less prone to injury.
- Strength Training –This is the ultimate solution in working out your muscles and keeping it toned. When you’re not doing high-intensity training, try lifting weights, which should be heavy enough to make you do 12 repetitions in four sets. Just make sure you don’t exercise the same muscle groupevery day, since they need at least two days to repair, rebuild and recover.
6. Is HIIT Safe?
The answer is yes, as long as you maintain muscle strength, proper form and range of motion. At the same time, you need to make sure that you will follow the procedure, including the warm up and cooling down, correctly each time. This ensures that you are able to prepare your muscles and allow them to recover before and after the training.
The good thing about high intensity interval training is that you can adjust the intensity of every workout depending on your level. However, HIIT is not for everyone. If you belong in any of the following categories, then HIIT may not be for you:
However, there are instances when even the physically fit and able individuals experience musculoskeletal injury and cardiac issues.
Hence, make sure to consult your doctor before trying HIIT. Despite its many health benefits, you won’t be able to reap the rewards if you are not physically healthy. Check HIIT with your healthcare provider before adding this in your exercise plan.
- An existing heart condition or any condition that doesn’t allow you to participate instrenuous physical activities.
- If you experience chest pains during physical activity, or have bone or joint issues that could get worse when you workout.
- You get dizzy and at times lose your balance.
- You are in your 40’s and beyond, and you don’t work out often.
7. Tips In Developing HIIT Exercise Program
Given all these information, how do you develop an exercise program that is fit for high intensity interval training?
In developing an HIIT exercise program, you need to consider four things duration, frequency, intensity and length of recovery.
Duration and frequency depends on the workout. For instance, you could go for four minutes of working out,and then four minutes of recovery. You could also try 30 seconds of maximum intensity working out, and then four minutes of recovery.
The intensity of the workout intervals means you need to give up to 80 percent or more of your maximum intensity. To test if you are in your maximum level, you should find it difficult to catch your breath and carry on a conversation.
As to the recovery interval, it should be 40 to 50 percent of your maximum intensity, or a comfortable pace for you.
What do you think? Is high intensity interval training for you? Before you fully commit to this type of exercise, give yourself some time to experience it. At the same time, work on your own pace and according to your difficulty level. Don’t pressure yourself too much to work harder and longer even if your body cannot tolerate it any longer.
HIIT is not for everyone, so before you try it, ask your doctor if it is a good choice for you. Remember: your health and safety comes first.
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