Not enough time to exercise, then just “HIIT” it!
HIIT is ‘High Intensity Intervals Training‘.
This exercise regimen is not a new fad; however, its profile has received a lot of press recently due to its short(er) time duration engagement proposition and to the uninformed, an association with CrossFit; the latter being a branded form of multi-disciplinary exercises.
I actually heard someone say after seeing a short video report story on HIIT, “That’s all!” I thought, “Yea, but you would not be able to handle that level of effort“.
Another way to look at this form of exercise/conditioning is from a quality-versus-quantity perspective. Depending on the HIIT model you follow the level of effort during a session will have your body screaming and begging you to stop and you will be done between 15-20 minutes. However, the results are solid. For those wanting for facts and are into the science (and consider yourself to be “older”), then check out , PhD’s “Intermittent exercise and insulin sensitivity in older individuals: It’s a HIIT” article. Of note from this paper are the following two points to consider.
- “…may serve as a time–efficient substitute or compliment to commonly recommended moderate–intensity continuous training for improving cardio metabolic health…”
“…efficacy of a time–efficient interval training protocol to improveinsulin sensitivity and cardio respiratory fitness in older individuals…”
My view of “High Intensity Interval Training” (HIIT) begins by looking at the words from the acronym.
High Intensity. I propose that ‘high intensity’ is relative to a person’s present health and fitness level. For the person who has not seen their belt buckle since high school, then vigorous walking may be intense. Even for the conditioned athlete going all-out for short time intervals will be taxing. The immersion into these efforts is painful – I know.
Intervals. This component of HIIT is the attraction for many; it refers to the timing aspect of engaging within the exercise regime. Forever, individuals have had as their number one reason for not exercising is a lack of time. HIIT’s proposed value is that you can achieve results in a less amount of time.
While there are variety of routines available today and many gyms, or clubs, offer such programs, for the out-of-shape individual I implore you to get a physical exam, or talk with your doc (there, that PSA warning is out of the way). Now, where to begin. Start with your own personal HIIT session and follow this suggestion.
- Warm-up! Swing your arms, twist your body, walk, cycle, just move easy-to-moderately for 3-5 minutes.
- Go Hard! What does “hard” mean? You will know it when it happens. Depending on your form of exercise (walking briskly, cycling like a cyclone, or running away from a tiger) push hard for 1 minute (for those who are using technology or know themselves well this will be a 80-90% effort), your heart is pounding in your chest, you are sweating, your breathing is labored, and more!
- Recovery. My god, that was hard! So, take 2-2.5 minutes and recover, by slowing your preferred exercise so you can swallow your heart and oxygen, and you can feel your extremities again.
- Repeat! Yes, repeat steps 2 and 3 for 3-5 more times.
- Chill. Continue walking or cycling for an easy 3-5 minutes.
Total HIIT Time: Approximately 15-25 minutes. Now that wasn’t too bad; was it?
Once again, the above suggested session is for those who have been away for a while. For those with fitness backgrounds and want to try HIIT, the above session still works with the following considerations.
- Warm-up is moderate and increases slightly towards first hard interval.
- Hard should be in the 90-95% range.
- For recovery, target between 1.5-2 minutes.
Okay, so this is suppose to save time and get results. Someone might say, “I get it, 15-25 minutes; but overall, how many times per week?” Reports will suggest 2-4 times per week. I suggest that the number of times per week is based on two considerations; 1) How a HIIT aligns with your training goals? and, 2) How hard are you pushing in a HIIT session? Personally, I find 1-2 times per week has been beneficial and complimentary.
Got 15-20 minutes? Are you ready to HIIT it? Want more? If so, you might find Dr. Martin