We live in a world where people expect instant gratification and quick results. This demand to see immediate improvements has led people in the health and fitness world to develop more intense methods of working out.
Results that used to take years to obtain can now be achieved in a matter of months.
The three different aspects of physical fitness (strength, endurance/ cardiovascular and flexibility) can all be combined into an innovative and functional work-out known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to quickly give you maximum results in a minimum amount of time.
Exactly What is HIIT?
HIIT is actually an umbrella term covering several different high intensity workout plans.
The one common factor in all of these programs is the intense nature of the workouts.
And the beauty of these intense bouts of activity is they burn calories for anything up to 48 hours after your workout. In other words, you get to burn off calories even while you are asleep. This compares with the long and slow form of cardio where you only burn calories while the exercise is being performed.
HIIT can be a brutal experience but it offers a huge pay-off. It’s the fastest way to get fit, lose a few kilos and supercharge your performance. Really, it is all about increasing your anaerobic threshold but with many other benefits as well.
How HIIT works is by mixing very high intensity bursts of exercise combined with a moderate recovery period repeated for a prescribed period of time.
Here is a simple example: Instead of sitting on the rowing machine or exercise bike doing a long and slow 45 minutes to an hour of slow burning torture, try this. Choose your preferred piece of equipment (bike or rower, I like the rower because you get both an upper and lower body workout) and warm-up for 3 to 4 minutes. Now do 30 seconds as hard as you can go then do a 90 second recovery at moderate speed. Rinse and repeat for 20 minutes, warm down for another 3 or 4 minutes and you are done.
That is just one way of doing HIIT and I recommend you do the above workout at least twice a week on top of your normal weights program. Other ways of doing HIIT for accelerated results are by doing a mix of bodyweight exercises such as:
- 20 Sit Ups
- 15 Push Ups
- 15 Bodyweight Squats or Box Step-ups (add dumbbells for some extra oomph)
- 15 Triceps Dips
- 15 Burpees
- 15 Split Jumps
- 10 Pull-ups (can’t do 10, then go for 5 and work your way up)
- 10 Ab-wheel Rollouts
You can use any sort of mix as long as it is balanced to both upper and lower body. The use of light weights can also work well.
A challenging combination like this is followed by a 30 second to 1 minute rest period (depending on your fitness) which might involve a much less intense exercise like walking. Then rinse and repeat for 20 minutes.
Another factor that makes an HIIT workout so successful is the alternating of the exercises. Most people experience a plateau after they stay with the same workout for more than 30 or so days. This is a period where the body experiences substantially less results than the previous month. HIIT programs should always alternate after 30 days so the body continues to develop.
Both men and women — young and old — can benefit from this type of training, but it still may not be for everyone. If you are keen to give it a go just make sure your program is tailored to your current levels of fitness and build as you go.
Deciding if HIIT is Right for You
Anyone looking to get faster results and a higher level of aerobic capacity should consider HIIT, but it’s important to remember that the program is very strenuous.
If you haven’t worked out in years, you might want to start with something less intense and eventually work your way into a full blown HIIT program. You should also consider your heart health and consult your doctor if you think the training may be more than you can handle.
Like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to beginning an HIIT regimen.
Pros and Cons of HIIT
The obvious advantage to beginning HIIT is obtaining the body of your dreams in less time than you could have imagined.
This is the most obvious advantage but the most important reason to change yourself is for the improved overall health benefits that come with a serious exercise program.
Life is a gift and you’re going to enjoy it more if you both feel and look good. And in the end, isn’t that really what we all want.
Unfortunately, these life changing results come at a heavy physical cost. Sheer exhaustion can be the biggest con to the program, but you’ll sleep better than you have in years. You also need discipline to stick with the program especially when your body starts yelling out to you that it needs a rest.
So now it’s time to just go for it – my encouragement and support is right behind you.