What the heck is HIIT?
I have to start this post out by emphasizing that this is how I incorporate High-intensity interval training (HIIT) into my workout repertoire. In my opinion, which is supported by some research, HIIT activities are best practiced after you have established a baseline of fitness. Someone just beginning an exercise program is more likely to sustain injuries with HIIT activities. Wait until you are at an intermediate fitness level before adding HIIT to your workouts. Always consult an expert if you have questions.
HIIT workouts are thought to be one of the most effective ways to improving cardiovascular health, respiratory endurance, metabolic function, and perhaps muscular neurological status as you age.
HIIT involves repeated short bouts of high-intensity exercises followed by brief recovery periods. This sequence is repeated several times in a row usually for 20 to 30 minutes.
HIIT workouts can improve your health due to their effect on several important systems within the body:
- Cardiovascular health and endurance
- Ability to use oxygen
- Hormone levels
- Muscular innervation
HIIT is not a new concept, I can remember doing similar activities 15 years ago. Last year when I participated in a six-week boot camp I got the full modern HIIT experience. I was supposed to run or sprint as fast as I could for 20 seconds, then slow down to a moderate pace for 20 seconds and repeat for 20 minutes. Our snow was too deep for me to get outside and my treadmill wouldn’t adjust that quickly so I used my stair climber. To me it was a hardcore workout. I was surprised I could even do it and more surprised that I didn’t get really sore or just plain die!
For the last couple of years however I have incorporated HIIT into my workouts in a more practical manner. If you google HIIT, you will find an unending list of specific workouts but I am the kind of person that likes to fit things into my life that I can actually do and stick with. I love to run and currently run trails here in the mountain forest. I run up and down steep inclines on varied terrain. I will run on soft sand, to firm dirt, to rocky areas. It requires balance, and endurance. To add HIIT to my runs I speed up to maximum exertion for one to two minutes and then slow down to a moderate pace for a couple of minutes and repeat until I pretty much can't do any more. Sometimes just running up an incline if it is steep enough pushes me to maximum exertion. I only do HIIT a couple of times a week. It is important to allow time for recovery.
My point to all of this is when you are ready to add HIIT to your workout, add it in a way that fits your workout routine. Read as much as you can and then take the information and adjust it to work for you so you can maintain over the long haul. Because we’re here for the long haul, right?
There is a lot of noise on the Internet that HIIT is the fastest way to loose weight and is currently a trendy new program with classes being offered in gyms and online. HIIT is not necessarily the best way to lose weight for most people. It is being reported that many people are injuring themselves trying HIIT because they are not at a fitness level required for it to be effective. HIIT should be something added into your fitness routine when you are fit enough to do it without injury and is a supplement to exercise not your only form of exercise. Far more benefits come from a long brisk walk or slow run.
There is too much research for me to unpack in this post but I will provide a link to one of the best articles I have found regarding HIIT and how it benefits aging muscles. Dr Mercola is one person who seems to take a knowledgeable and reasonable approach to fitness in general and HIIT in particular. Read here to learn more.
That's it for this week! Thanks for stopping by!