As some of you may know, I am a member of Kinetic Indoor Cycle and Fitness in Lethbridge, Alberta. Most weeks I try and attend about 4 or 5 workouts there. When I’m not working out there, I run in the coulees (hills), or workout at home (I have a mini gym in my basement with a spin bike, TRX, and miscellaneous items like BOSU, weights, bands etc.) My husband, (the sweetest man ever-I may be biased LOL), also recently took my road bike in to get new tires put on so I can hit the highways again as well.
About three times a year the gym mixes up the schedule, so right now they are on the summer schedule. One of the classes I’m now taking every week is a HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training class. Now those of you who exercise regularly probably know what that is all about, but for those who are newbies to the fitness scene, it is a type of cardio workout where you give an all-out 100% effort through quick (usually 30 to 90 seconds), intense bursts of exercise followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.
When I say “all-out” I mean, giving it everything you’ve got for the entire time, which can actually feel a bit unpleasant. It should leave your heart pounding, sweat pouring, and you should be pretty breathless. When you do this you are actually engaging in anaerobic exercise which means “without oxygen”. You should be working at about 80% – 95% of your body’s maximum heart rate, so you would describe the intensity as hard or very hard (a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10), and it would be very difficult to maintain a conversation at this level.
The recovery period may be just as long as the work period, but are only at about 50% of your maximum heart rate. An example from my last HIIT class was 90 seconds of burpees, followed by 90 seconds of Russian twists with or without a weight, (can be repeated 2-3 times). Then a very short rest, before starting the next set of 90 seconds of jump squats and 90 seconds of push ups, (can be repeated 2-3 times). These type of sets continued for 25 minutes as this was an express lunch hour class, with a 2 minute warm up and 3 minute cool down stretch. (Note: it can be simpler to repeat the same set 2-3 times than thinking up exercises for say 8-10 different sets of exercises, but either way will work just as well).
Some of you may be asking why on earth would I want to do that? Well, this type of training can help you burn more fat and calories, both during and for about 2 hours after the session than regular aerobic activity like running. Some other benefits include boosting endurance, regulating insulin levels, increasing metabolism and losing body fat which of course can help you get that hot, shredded body many of us dream of having. But if you’re thinking great, I’ll start doing this every day then hold on and keep reading.
HIIT workouts shouldn’t be done on back to back days and are only recommended maximum 2-3 times per week. Ideally, these should be incorporated into a comprehensive workout program that might also include aerobic cardio training like biking and running as well as strength conditioning, and yoga. Also, if you’ve never tried an HIIT workout, it can take a bit of getting used to. Remember, earlier I said it can feel a bit unpleasant? When you are pushing your body to its max, even for short durations, your body and mind are going to say, hey! what are you doing to me? To get the full benefit you really have to work at that 9 or even 10 out of 10 level for the work period. Part of my strategy is to remind my mind that my body can do this, I believe in engaging in mental talk to get better results. When my mind is saying, “I can’t do another second of this” or “You are insane”, I come back with “oh yes you can, your body is a machine” or something along that line. Sometimes I tell myself it’s only another 30, or 20, or 10 seconds, and you can do anything for 30, 20, 10 seconds.
Photo by Crew on Unsplash
HIIT can be modified to suit almost anyone’s abilities/fitness level. Exercises can be modified for low impact by adding weights to increase the intensity, for example. A beginner may not work at the same level as an advanced exerciser, but they may still be working at the same intensity (80-95% of their max heart rate), which is the key. But, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if it’s going to include high intensity training.
If you don’t belong to a gym, you can create your own HIIT workout by using the formula described above or check out Pinterest for specific workout ideas. The great thing about HIIT workouts, they really don’t require any special equipment. Just you and your own bodyweight are sufficient. An example if you take your workout outside, is do 45 or 60 second all-out running sprints alternating with pushups and tricep dips as your recovery/strength period. Easy peasy right? Well, at least coming up with the workout exercises is easy.
Check out my Bootcamp workout post and Exercise 101: 5 Steps to Start Your Exercise Program, this post is part of a series to get you going on your fitness journey. As always, you can sign up to get a link to any of my new posts sent right to your inbox. Leave me a comment, I’m always interested to hear what you are doing on your journey to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, as well as any feedback or suggestions for topics you’d like to hear about.
Featured Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash