Make exercise a real HIIT – Add some variety to your fitness regime
When we think of the gym we usually picture ourselves jogging on a treadmill, or pounding a cross-trainer, non-stop for 45 minutes.
Some people love it, and get a real buzz from a session, but if you’re like me you’ll count every single second as you wait for the torture to stop. What if you could get more health benefits by doing just half the exercise? When I heard this was a possibility at the gym I attend I couldn’t sign-up fast enough.
Enter HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training (pronounced ‘hit’).
HIIT involves short periods, 30 seconds or so, of high intensity exercise followed by equally short rest periods which you repeat for around 20 to 30 minutes. The idea is to work as hard as you possibly can during each work session, then catch your breath, then repeat. At the end of the whole work out you should be totally exhausted.
At this point you might be thinking that the 45-minute gentle jog isn’t sounding so bad after all, but HIIT has a number of real advantages.
Each work period can be a different exercise. Some can be cardio; some can be strength exercises. This keeps the workout interesting (good if like me you are easily bored) and also gives you the twin benefits of improving fitness and building muscle.
High intensity exercise burns more calories and more fat. Because you are working flat out your body needs to expend a lot more energy. It can’t keep pace with your needs by simply burning easily accessible temporary carbohydrate stores, so it has to start burning fat. It also needs a lot more oxygen which is why you get out of breath. But this raises your body’s metabolism to a much higher level than simply jogging. So, when you finish exercise your body stays in this high-energy state for much longer burning even more calories.
Your whole body has to work a lot harder to keep up with the exercise, especially your heart. In fact HIIT strengthens your whole cardiovascular system. It’s also very good at reducing insulin resistance (one of the precursors to type ll diabetes) which makes it much easier for your body to regulate your blood sugar, as well as helping to high blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and more.
HIIT is easily tailored to any fitness level. If you pop to your local gym, you’ll usually find beginner, intermediate and advanced level sessions. But if the gym really isn’t your thing, it’s easy to do a HIIT work out at home. There are lots of apps and videos to help you out.
Spending just 20 minutes, three times a week on HIIT will kick your health drive into top gear, so why not give High Intensity Interval Training a try?
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