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.
By Chris Freytag
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn
Sometimes a new thought or a new idea is all you need to make a lasting change. You can wake up one day and decide to make your entire life change. If you are new to exercise or you dropped it for a while and you want to get back to doing it, the best way to begin is with small steps.
You don’t have to become an athlete overnight to make exercise a part of your lifestyle. It’s actually better if you commit to making small changes in your daily routine instead of reinventing yourself overnight, because you are more likely to stick with it. Small changes in habits can lead to lasting, permanent change. So think baby steps and incorporate exercise into your life with these tips.
1. Develop a “move more” mindset.
Carving out a specific hour of a day for a workout is great (and we will get to that in a little bit) but first, start each day with the mindset to move more. By reminding your body to get more movement throughout the day, you will be more likely to do it. So sit less and stand more. Take more steps and stairs. Walk to talk with a coworker instead of emailing them.
Stretch in your chair, squat to pick something up, park far away from stores so you will walk more, stand up when you talk on the phone and do some exercises while you watch TV. There are numerous ways you can sneak more movement into your day. Begin each day with a move more mindset and you will find them.
2. Commit to regular activity.
You may not be the type of person who wants to train for a triathlon and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to become a fitness buff to benefit from exercise and movement. Start by committing to getting activity regularly. Schedule exercise like any other appointment on your calendar and treat it as a commitment rather than something you squeeze in if you have time. Even if you can only allot 15 minutes at a time, schedule it.
Take a short walk. Walk at a leisurely pace at first if exercise is new to you. You can build up to a power walk. If that’s not your thing, take a fitness class, swim laps or sign up for dance classes. Whatever exercise you start, build up slowly so you don’t overwhelm yourself and give up. If your body isn’t accustomed to regular exercise, build up slowly day by day so you don’t get too sore and throw in the towel altogether.
3. Find your favorite exercise.
I know people who commit to a form of exercise and hate it. How long do you think they will keep that up? We aren’t inclined to dive in or stick to things we despise. Out of all the forms of exercise out there, find one you just love. Get really specific. Don’t just say, “yoga” discover what form of yoga is your favorite. If swimming is your thing, do you prefer swimming laps or water aerobics? Or maybe you’d dread a step class but you can’t get enough of Pilates.
A good way to identify what type of exercise is right for you is to first figure out if you like to exercise alone, with a partner or in a group setting. You may have to experiment a little bit before you know. Try different forms of exercise until you find one that energizes you physically and mentally. Find your favorite exercise—one where excuses won’t even enter the equation when it’s time to exercise.
4. Focus on health and strength and what it means to you, and not on numbers on a scale.
Many people can get easily discouraged and give up when there’s too much emphasis on weight loss. Rather than an exclusive focus on weight loss, focus on the joys of exercise and movement instead. Take pride in your body getting stronger or your new ability to able to exercise longer, even if it’s just in baby steps. Think about the great way your body feels after exercise and the exhilaration you feel. Taking the time to consider what really connects you to exercise on an emotional level, is powerful because you can use those thoughts to motivate you.
Most likely what motivates you runs much deeper than getting skinnier or being a specific set of three numbers on a scale. Identify what it is for you. Maybe you want to have more energy for your children or grandchildren or you want to be in more control of your health—whatever is your core motivation—connect to it.
5. Add strength training to your weekly routine.
Exercise isn’t just cardio alone. Strength training is critically important to retain muscle as you age, have a strong body and an effective metabolism. Even if you focus on just one muscle group a day and do three different exercises with three sets of 15 each for that muscle group you will benefit. You can divide strength training up throughout the week. Try two days a week to start and work up to three. Strength training will change how you feel, help you conquer your workouts with all that new muscle you are developing, and it’s the secret to a revved up metabolism.
It’s been a slow week workout-wise. My back has been hurting for over 2 months now. I ended up at my doctor’s office. It seems my new office chair is the culprit. I’m test driving a new chair and I’m using a foot riser. Both have really helped – no back pain while st my desk.
My doctor told me to slow it down this week. He really discouraged me from working out – I listened to him. I’ve missed it.
But the meds he gave me and the slower pace this week seemed to have helped. I’m going back to the gym today. Probably will focus mainly on cardio and avoid the ab room (something that my doc thought was causing me more back pain) until next week.
My weight seems to have stayed even this week. I had 3 lunch appointments this past week. I did well in making good choices, but missing the exercise seems to have slowed up my weight loss.
I’m not discouraged. I’ll get at my routine next week.