Wednesday, June 26, 2013

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): What It Is + Workout!

I will be the first to admit that I will never, ever, be a cardio junkie.

If you aren't familiar with that term, basically a "cardio junkie" is a person-many times those who are new to their fitness journey, or someone such as a pro-runner or cyclist- who's workout routine consists solely or mostly of cardio.

I much rather spend time getting my heart rate up lifting weights than doing cardio, and some studies have actually shown that cardio is not needed in order to loose weight. However, I still find it useful to engage in cardiovascular activity for other reasons:
It works up a good sweat,
Helps release feel good hormones called endorphins,
Conditions your body (and mind, in some aspects!)
And yes, in some forms, helps to burn fat.

From the research I have done, and from a personal perspective, the most efficient form of cardio for overall body conditioning and fat loss is that of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

What is HIIT?
HIIT is basically training in "intervals": periods of intense, heart pounding work (such as sprinting, jumping, basically just going all out) that are done with all the effort you have, followed by shorter rounds of less vigorous active rest.
This differs greatly from the traditional "steady state" cardio, in which you remain at a relatively consistent heart rate for long periods of time (30+ minutes). Usually, HIIT only takes about 10-30 minutes at most, and is not done daily. However, results are quickly seen, and the benefits are undeniable.

Why Does HIIT work better than other cardio?
Steady state cardio usually keeps the heart rate at a constant... with HIIT, the heart rate will be much higher during the all-out bursts, than will lower slightly during the active recovery. This allows you to work at a more intense pace for longer bouts of time than steady state would allow.

HIIT also causes a reaction known as EPOC (post-exercise oxygen consumption), also known as the "afterburn" effect.

As described by
"When you work at a lower intensity (such as during a brisk walk), aerobic metabolism predominates.
Your body uses oxygen to break down carbohydrate and fat for energy. This is very efficient, but you can’t work at top speed. With aerobic metabolism, you gain efficiency but lose intensity...
On the other hand, when you work at a higher intensity (such as sprinting),anaerobic metabolism predominates.
Your body can’t get oxygen to where it needs to go fast enough. This is very inefficient, but it lets you produce short bursts of speed or high energy.
With HIIT...
·                      The higher intensity periods create a metabolic demand that is very effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning.

·                      The lower intensity periods let you recover and use the aerobic energy system."

This after burn can increase metabolism and cause more calorie burn for up to 24 hours after your workout! Steady state cardio, such as steady jogging, does not do this.

How do you do HIIT?
There are many variations on HIIT, from Tabata training to circuit training. Really, it is just about going back and forth from intense, all out bursts of activity, to lower impact active rest. For example, 30 seconds active and 10 seconds rest, repeated as many times as needed to reach the desired duration.

In order for HIIT to be effective, it is VERY important to give those intense bursts YOUR ALL. This way, you really do benefit from a cardio session lasting only 20 or so minutes. If you do not work your hardest while not in active rest, you might as well not have done the workout, for the results will not be what you are looking for... Yes, it is challenging... but isn't it so much simpler than spending an hour on the treadmill? Plus, the constant changing of intensities always keeps your interest!

Here is a staple HIIT routine that I will do before my lifting session. It is only 10 minutes, but is intense and gets the job done! Plus it can always be repeated to make it longer.

So...Why Should You Do HIIT?
To sum things up:

  • It gets the job done in a short amount of time, compared to that of long, boring steady-state cardio.
  • Constant change in intensity keeps things interesting
  • Overall fat burn in increased
  • You burn more calories after your workout, results of the "after burn" effect 
  • You become better conditioned and your endurance increased in a relatively short time span 
  • No equipment is required! Just look at the workout above... all body weight movements. Go for sprints around your neighborhood or track, use a jump rope, the possibilities are endless!  
What are your thoughts on HIIT, and how often do you do it?
Could you or anyone you know be considered a "cardio junkie"?

Share you workouts!



MoLangley said...

This is a very good blog. I like the way you emphasized on the fact the children have to learning certain physical skills early in life, for it may help them when they are adults. What you wrote reminds me of athletes; athletes had to start from somewhere. A child who we care for may grow up to be a professional athlete.

Orange County Teenage Training

Mr Fixpi said...

Two summers ago, I worked with a great gal from Hollywood, Rachel Nichols.
Rachel did some TT workouts while filming a movie up here in Toronto.

That's about it for me in terms of training Hollywood actors or
actresses in person, but recently I was asked, "Imagine you're
working with a major film star who has eight weeks to lose 30
pounds of fat and build some muscle in preparation for the lead
role in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. What do you do with them?"

Here's my answer...

I would have control over every single thing that they eat. That's
the biggest ticket to success here. No booze, no excess sugar, and
just giving them enough reward to stick with the program.

If this "star" is a typical overweight, sedentary individual, we'll have
no problem getting rid of 20 pounds of fat through nutrition.

As for exercise, we need to be consistent, and stick with our intensity
principles. We would do 3 hard workouts per week using strength
training followed by interval training with the program being centered
around basic movement patterns done with free weights.

Everything is done in supersets in the workout to get more done in
less time. For example, we might do a squat supersetted with a
pressing exercise. I also like to pair free weight exercises and
bodyweight exercises in supersets, for example, a dumbbell split
squat paired with a decline pushup.

We'll do 3 superset pairs, each for 1-3 sets, and stick to 8
repetitions per set. Then we'll finish the workout with 6 hard
intervals of 30-60 seconds (with 60-120 seconds rest between each).
This way, we are in and out of the gym in 45 minutes.

On "off days", we'd still get at least 30 minutes, if not 60
minutes, of low-intensity exercise. But it wouldn't just be slow
cardio. Instead, we'd focus on low-intensity bodyweight training.
For example, if the actor can do a maximum of 25 bodyweight squats,
15 pushups, and 5 chinups, we would use easier versions of those
exercises in circuits.

Here's a sample 6 exercise bodyweight circuit that we'd do at least
3 times, doing 10 reps per exercise.

Wall Squat
Kneeling Pushup
Beginner Inverted Bodyweight Row
Stability Ball Leg Curl
Mountain Climber

After that, we might cross train with a variety of cardio exercises
to avoid overuse injuries that occur when you repeatedly do the
same activity and nothing else.

So that's pretty much it. If he (or she) sticks to their nutrition,
we're as good as gold and the actor will be ready just in time.

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Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer
Author, Turbulence Training

PS - Turbulence Training Beats Cardio for Fat Burning Effectiveness.

"Craig's workouts were fun and challenging - I didn't dread going to the
gym and I wasn't overly sore after our sessions. Much like my trainer in
LA, Craig's workouts were always different: the exercises, the supersets,
the weights...the combination of elements always varied and, therefore,
I never got bored or felt like I was in a workout rut. And my co-stars
couldn't believe how great my arms looked, thanks to Craig helping me
do my first chin-up. Thanks Craig!"
Rachel Nichols, actress

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I am 6'3", 28/M and my starting weight/body fat% was 208 pounds and
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