Friday, May 24, 2013

Fitness Fridays are a HIIT

Today's Workout:

Hello friends and TGIF!
You are all probably wrapping up work and getting ready to hit the gym go to happy hour, but let me briefly talk to you about an exercise routine that can last up to 7 minutes. Yes! only 7 minutes. If you've been reading my blog posts this week, you will notice that I have been incorporating a series of fast interval exercise routines after my runs.

On Wednesday I did a short routine that consisted of five sets of 10 air squats, 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups. The sets were repeated without rest and were essentially performed one after the other. On Thursday, my routine consisted of seven sets of 7 air squats and 7 burpees. Like Wednesday's routine, these were also repeated without rest.

You're probably wondering what are the benefits of a short routine like the ones I have mentioned above. This type of exercise is called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). There are many versions of HIIT, but the core premise involves maximum exertion followed by a quick rest period for a set of intervals. A recent article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal shows how you can fulfill the requirements for a high intensity exercise using nothing more than your own body weight.

Benefits of HIIT:
1. Improves insulin sensitivity.
2. May eliminate Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.
3. May help with cholesterol ratios.
4. Naturally boosts human growth hormone (HGH).
5. Boosts fat metabolism and optimizes fat percentages.
6. Increases aerobic capacity.
Why it works:
Interval training allows you to exercise at very high intensities for a much longer period of time than steady state, so you burn more fat. There’s also an after-burn effect known as EPOC (excess-post exercise oxygen consumption). You increase your metabolism and burn more calories for up to 24 hours after interval training, whereas going for a jog burns minimal calories after because you're running at a steady pace.
Sample HIIT Workout:
HIIT can be used for any kind of workout. I mean ANY! These include:
TreadmillEllipticalWeight TrainingKettlebell
Box JumpsThrustersPushupsPower cleans
Sled pullingJump ropePlyometricsAnything else

The interval lengths depend on your current conditioning level and your specific workout goals.  Starting with a few repeats of shorter intervals of work and longer intervals of rest and over time as your condition improves you can increase the work interval duration, decrease the recovery interval, and increase the number of sets to meet your goals.

Example 1: Tabata: 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, for 8 rounds. Tabata can be used for the exercise that I performed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Example 2: Sprint
5 minute warm up
20 seconds fast run, 40 seconds walk for 5 repeats
30 seconds fast run, 30 seconds walk for 5 repeats
1 minute fast run, 30 seconds walk for 5 repeats
5 minute cool down

Example 3: Weightlifting
Set timer to 1 minute interval for 30 repeats and start a set at every alarm using weight as necessary to complete 15 reps per set.

Example HIIT routine utilizing your body weight:

You set the amount of intervals and rest periods depending on your fitness level.
Have you ever tried a HIIT workout?
I'm grateful that I can perform short HIIT
workouts despite the pain in my knee.
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  1. Thanks Erika. You incorporated some weight lifting exercises into this post. Sounds like a challenge but I will give it a shot. I will keep you posted.

  2. Thanks Erika. I'm traditional with my routine and don't like to change it up. I read this post and said why not. By the way, my wife Jamie and I are backpacking next week. We are doing a short one, maybe 25 or 35 miles. I will share some pics with you when we return.

    1. ooOoOoO, yes, please share! Where are you backpacking? By the way, if you change up your routine you'll "shock" your body which will get you out of a working out plateau.

  3. I do HIIT a few times a week. I like doing Insanity workouts, since it's a good mix of intense cardio and resistance training.

    1. Jo, how many times a week do you do HIIT? I heard Insanity is awesome! I've never tried it.