To Reach Fall Fitness Goals, Just HIIT it!
By Lee Sandford
I know that anything I receive via my phone, whether on social media, or traditional media headlines of the day, is tailored to me, and the Yoda in my phone knows I like all things health– and fitness-related (as well as shoes). So, I see the term “HIIT”
at least once a day. But I’m sure most people are aware that HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) is also, at the moment, a popular means of exercising.
One of the classic studies on HIIT’s effectiveness was carried out by Dr. Izumi Tabata in 1996. During the six week-long assessment, one of his groups performed moderate intensity exercise, one hour a day for five days a week, and the other performed high intensity exercise for just four minutes per day (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off times 8) four times a week. Aerobic improvements were similar in both groups, and anaerobic capacity (increased metabolism, better fat burning, and muscle building) increased by 28% in the four minutes per-day group, with no increase in the moderate intensity group.
Sounds great, right? Work out for just four minutes, four times a week? Beware! The Tabata protocol is almost impossible for regular humans to do properly or safely. Tabata’s subjects were athletes who had an in-depth understanding of body mechanics and were heavily supervised during the tests. The term used in the study was “exhaustive” and how-to’s on the protocol use terms such as “all-out” and “drop dead”.
Since then, regular and numerous studies, testing various more achievable methods of HIIT, come back to the same conclusion: Mixed intensity exercise in shorter, sharper bursts is more effective than steady-state exercise.
A simple way for us mortals to go through a HIIT system is to use a timer and progress as follows as you get fitter:
• Beginners: 30 seconds hard effort, 30 seconds rest
• Intermediate: 40, 20
• Advanced: 45,15.
You can do all the same exercise for each minute, for example, and follow the above protocols for 20 minutes on the treadmill or a stationary bike. Or you can switch it up: choose five different drills, (jump squats, mountain climbers, etc.) and run through that circuit three to four times, for a 15 to 20- minute workout. Remember you are working <hard> during the effort phase.
Aside from its effectiveness, here are a few other reasons to try HIIT:
- It’s achievable. The effort that you put into HIIT should make it difficult, but the time that you do it for, typically 15-30 minutes, makes that less daunting. That’s a sustainable practice.
- It’s easy to fit into your day. Do it in your lunch hour: ten minutes to get changed, five–minute warm-up, 20 minutes working out, 20 minutes to cool down, shower, and get back to your desk. Once you have it down, you’ll find it easy to plan your workout ahead of time and hit the ground running.
- It’s flexible. Any exercise can be made into a HIIT workout, so it should never get tedious.
- You can do it anywhere. I know this claim is overdone, and I’m tired of seeing social media show-offs fitting in their workout at the airport for example. (I’m not kidding. I promptly “unfollowed” someone who was using the luggage carousel to do Bulgarian spilt squats!) But, if you’re stuck at home with a sick child, you’ll realize that running up and down your own stairs, or bench squats on your couch, is a bona fide workout if done properly.
There are many resources that will help you build up your knowledge of good drills to include in your HIIT.
On YouTube, I like Joe Wicks, the Body Coach. He does the full workout himself, and what you’ll notice is that although the guy is clearly super-fit, he is exhausted which is a great reminder that you’re supposed to be working hard.
On social media, I like JanelledFit and Kaisafit, who come up with varied and inventive compound moves, though I’ve yet to find a Kaisafit workout that I can do all the way through. Best of all, for workouts done at local spots you’ll recognize, such as the football field, beach, or Boardwalk, follow ThryveRye, hosted by yours truly.
And finally, remember that a huge benefit of exercise should be enjoyment and stress relief. For those, I’ll always need walking, running, and fun group classes in my life, as well as HIIT.