As I have said before I try to focus solely on myself when I am training at the gym. Sometimes though I can’t help but notice countless bored souls spending hour after hour on the Elliptical machine, treadmill or annoying stationary bikes. I think I understand why, the fitness industry has us brainwashed to think only in terms of “burning calories”. What the hell is fun about that? Are we really enjoying running on treadmills to burn off the 250-calorie cookie that we ate after lunch? Who has time to waste away the hours on these machines? We are all busy and we all want results which is precisely why we need to incorporate high intensity interval training (HIIT) into our routine. A HIIT workout is one that has bouts of high and lower intensity repeated over a period of time. Traditional steady state exercise should really be used as part of a complete training routine to include Strength, Mobility, HIIT and Steady State. We need it all.
- EPOC– What the hell is EPOC you ask? Good question. Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, AKA: the after-burn. Why do you care? Because basically it means that after the workout is finished you will continue to use energy (AKA: burn calories). Following HIIT training your body continues to use excess oxygen to restore the body to its resting state. Consequently, the burn is more intense and effective than. Studies have shown that HIIT is more effective at reducing subcutaneous fat than traditional steady state exercise. Your resting metabolism also increases and your body will efficiently use fat as fuel.
- Fun and exciting- There is no time to get bored in a HIIT workout. Everything moves fast and HIIT uses short intense bouts. The benefit there is that no matter how bad it sucks you don’t have to endure the suck for too long, it passes quickly. The pace of HIIT workouts adds to the feeling of excitement you get when doing it. (I am aware that my idea of fun and exciting differs from most peoples). I also love that I can get creative here. I can pick whatever exercises I want to try that day and construct a HIIT workout that challenges me. Here are a few sample HIIT workouts for you to try.
- Muscle tone vs. skinny fat– Remember when I said I try to mind my business at the gym? First of all if my clients are in the gym when I am lifting all bets are off, I am all in their business. I am speaking about the rest of the world. There is a certain look to a body that only does steady state cardio, it’s a skinny fat look. Steady state cardio draws its energy from our muscles as well as our subcutaneous fat hence our appearance doesn’t change much. Most people say they want to look toned. I haven’t worked with anyone yet who has said, “I don’t need muscle tone, I like looking skinny fat”. Well that is basically what we are doing if we only do cardio and worrying about calories in vs. Calories out. HIIT training effectively targets our fat.
- Prevent plateauing– Our bodies get used to what we are doing over time and look to return to homeostasis (basically its comfort zone). That has happened to me countless times, I have gotten obsessed with one type of training and it stops working. It’s our job to keep our body guessing. We have to change it up as much as we can in order to ensure that what we are doing is actually effective. HIIT workouts keep our bodies guessing and therefore prevent plateauing.
- Time- This is the best part of HIIT. You can get a much more effective workout in a fraction of the time. A standard HIIT workout only needs 5-20 minutes of your time. If you’re really short on time, try using a Tabata timer during your workout. For a sample Tabata HIIT workout click here.
Regardless of your current level of fitness or your future fitness goals, it’s always important to change things up and stay engaged. For a fitness plan designed to meet your individual needs contact me.