From Natural Health
My girlfriend accuses me of being too efficient. As if that’s a bad thing. I work fast. I get things done and move on to better things. I don’t want to linger over tasks. I want them behind me. Which is why I’m all googly-eyed over High Intensity Interval Training.
I’ve got a few rules I like to follow concerning exercise. First off, get it done in 20 minutes or less. Whether I’m doing my morning yoga or resistance training or cardio, 20 minutes. No more. Secondly, in order to accomplish this, workouts need to be super intense. Which is nice because the time goes by faster. (Surprising considering the pain involved at times.) And third, and most important, the benefit has to be great.
You can go to the gym. You can crawl onto a treadmill. And you can jog and watch TV all the livelong day. But you’re not accomplishing anything. Other than fooling yourself into thinking you’re exercising. And watching a bit of TV.
HIIT: A Better Way
Let’s start with the benefits. HIIT, known more recently as Peak Fitness or Sprint 8, promotes fat loss/burning by increasing your resting metabolic rate and lowering your insulin resistance. Which means you’ll be burning calories long after your workout has finished, compared with other types of cardio. And not just calories. You’ll burn that hard to lose fat.
HIIT engages your super-fast muscle fibers. You have three types total: slow, fast and super-fast. Traditional cardio employs the slow fibers. Which in case you’re wondering, does little to nothing for your health. However, by stepping up the intensity, a lot I will admit, you can engage your super-fast muscle fibers, which may just be your personal fountain of youth.
The most amazing benefit of HIIT is the release of HGH that it promotes. Human Growth Hormone production declines after the age of 30, and it does so at a pretty fast rate. HGH is responsible for your energy levels, youthfulness, vitality. It is an anti-aging miracle worker. And the only way to get this benefit from a cardio program is to perform high intensity interval exercises.
You can adjust this however you like, but here’s the way I do it. Warm up on the bike or treadmill for 2-3 minutes. Then alternate between an all-out 30 second sprint at maximum effort, followed by a 90 second period of low intensity or rest. You do 8 of these “sprints” then another 2-3 minutes to cool down. And you’re done. If you’re just beginning a cardio program, perhaps you’ll want to do fewer sprints and more warm up. Or decrease the length of each sprint if need be.
The beautiful thing about HIIT is that it’s tailored to your fitness level. Whether you’re super fit or not fit at all, everyone can benefit from this and improve their cardio endurance. The key is your level of intensity. If you’re a beginner, take it slow if you need to, but once your cardio fitness begins to improve, you’ll need to bring that intensity more and more and with each and every sprint.