High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) CHALLENGE!

Fearless Fitness Tip Of The Week: High Intensity Interval Training!

Believe it or not…. there is a way to burn more calories, lose more fat, and improve your cardiovascular fitness level in less time.

Sounds like one of those FINTESS MYTHS doesnt it? This is one of those rare times when the “too-good-to-be-true” fitness statement is TRUE. The answer to taking your fitness to the next level lies in HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING.

High Intensity Interval Training (known as HIIT) is a specialized form of interval training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise. This method of training involves briefly pushing yourself beyond the upper end of your aerobic exercise zone and  it offers several advantages that traditional steady-state exercise (keeping your heart rate within your aerobic zone) can’t provide. HIIT is a serious  time saver and a BUTT buster. Other benefits of High Intensity Training include:

  • Conditioning of both the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. You train your anaerobic system with brief, all-out efforts (like pushing up to a hill or sprinting the last hundred yards of your running workout) and your aerobic system during recovery intervals.
  • HIIT forces excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)  and allows you to consume a great deal more oxygen recovering from the exercise session than you would have had you just done a steady-state workout. This ultimately means that you can burn up to nine times more fat after your workout than you would if you just spent an hour on the treadmill at a moderate pace. HIIT training allows you to increase the amount of calories you burn during exercise and after.
  • HIIT causes metabolic adaptations in the body that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This improves athletic endurance as well as your potential to burn more fat.
  • This type of training limits muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, in comparison to traditional steady-state cardio exercise of longer duration. HIIT training can help your body develop into a lean, mean, cardiovascularly fit machine!

To really get the benefits HIIT, you’ll need to push yourself past the upper end of your aerobic zone and allow your body to replenish your anaerobic energy system during the recovery intervals. Thats the key element of HIIT which makes it different from other forms of interval training – the high intensity intervals involve maximum effort, not simply a higher heart rate. There are many different approaches to HIIT, each involving different numbers of high and low intensity intervals, different levels of intensity during the low intensity intervals, different lengths of time for each interval, and different numbers of training sessions per week. If you want to use HIIT to improve performance for a particular sport or activity, you’ll need to tailor your training program to the specific needs and demands of your activity.
HIIT is perfect for fitness fanatics who want to boost their cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and fat loss, without losing lean muscle mass. Before starting any HIIT program, you should be able to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your estimated maximum heart rate, without exhausting yourself or having problems. HIIT is physically demanding – and it’s important to gradually build up your training program so that you don’t overdo it.

Here are some  Guidelines to help you get started with HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING:

  • Always warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after each HIIT session.
  • Work as hard as you can during the high intensity intervals, until you feel the burning sensation in your muscles indicating that you have entered your anaerobic zone. Elite athletes can usually sustain maximum intensity exercise for three to five minutes before they have to slow down and recover, so don’t expect to work longer than that.
  • Full recovery can take anywhere from 30 seconds to four minutes, you can shorten the recovery intervals if your high intensity intervals are also shorter or don’t completely exhaust your anaerobic energy system.
  • If you experience any chest pain or breathing difficulties during your HIIT workout, cool down immediately. (Don’t just stop or else blood can pool in your extremities and lightheadedness or faintness can occur. Remember how I always say, “You wouldn’t just STOP your car on the freeway”? Same thing applies here 🙂
  • If your heart rate does not drop back down to about 70% of your max during recovery intervals, you may need to shorten your work intervals and/or lengthen your recovery intervals.

The HIIT approach isnt for everyone and might not be your “bag of chips”. If you have any cardiovascular problems or other health concerns that limit your ability to exercise at intense levels, or if you are relatively new to aerobic exercise, HIIT might not be right for you RIGHT NOW. If you have any doubts or concerns about whether it might be safe for you, check in with your doctor before trying HIIT.

Are you READY TO HIIT IT?! Read below for sample high intensity interval workout ideas that will rock . your . world .

Fearless Fitness Challenge Of The Week: HIIT IT!

This week I challenge you to TWENTY MINUTES of a HIIT workout. High Intensity Training is easy to do on a run, in a spin class, or even on a piece of cardio equipment. You’ll also find the HIIT approach in my weekly group fitness classes, “CHISEL’D” or “Cycling the WORKOUT” at Equinox Fitness. I’d LOVE to see you in class this week and share in a high intensity interval workout with you. For a complete class schedule, click here. If you can’t make it to class, try one of these at home HIIT intervals:

    • Go Back to elementary school with a Jump rope workout. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 20 minutes total.
    • Burpees (30 seconds on, 1 minute stepping in place to get your heart rate back down)
    • TurboFire HIIT DVD (these are FANTASTIC. If you have the TurboFire DVDs, bust ‘em out, or see if a friend would lend you the HIIT ones). Chalene Johnson is one of my favorite fitness gurus 🙂
    • My Quick Fix Cardio Circuit:
  • You can use any of the exercises from this video. Try going easy for 30 seconds and then up the intensity for 30 seconds, and then rest for a minute. Lather, rinse, repeat!  ( These are great because they can be done at home with little to no equipment). Plyometric training is a great high intensity interval workout option.

If you need more “oomph” to your HIIT routine –  Try increasing the amount of “go” time, or decreasing the recovery time.

My favorite HIIT interval is  4 1-minute high intensity interval drills, with a minute of rest in between, repeated two times. Love using this interval running the embaracadero or in cycling class.

Here’s to you getting harder, better, faster, stronger!  GO HIIT it this week with an awesome workout! Let me know how it goes…. hopefully I’ll be in class workin it with you!

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