Saturday, 26 November 2011

HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training

If you read my last blog, you'll know I'm a fan of HIIT.  Often time is of the escence in these hectic days in which we live, so a quick workout done in less time is just what you need.

So what is HIIT?  Well its a form of cardio exercise (and not the slow steady boring kind either).  It involves intervals of varying intensities, with some intervals quite high.  But don't worry HIIT is not just for athletes, it can be adapted for beginners and unconditioned individuals too. 

A typical HIIT session involves several bursts of 'all out' training, which should feel challenging, followed by periods of lower intensity which is your active recovery.  This means your body can recover somewhat before your next interval.  And of course the big plus is that your creating that EPOC effect (see previous blog). 

Below is a HIIT programme you could use for example on the treadmill, which of course can also be performed outside. It could also be used on the rower, bike, X-Trainer or Stepper.

A typical HIIT session for a beginner is as follows;

4 - 8 x 20 / 30 second intervals with 90 seconds active recovery (walking) in between each interval.

A typical HIIT session for an intermediate user is as follows;

8 - 10 x 30 second intervals with 60 seconds active recovery (walk or light jog) in between each interval.

A typical HIIT session for an advanced user is as follows;

10 - 12 x 30 second intervals with 20 / 30 seconds active recovery (jog) in between each interval.

Of course it is very dependant on fitness levels, age, contraindications etc.  I'm not suggesting an overweight, unconditioned individual necessarily run, walking at a pace where they are breathing a little hard may be more appropriate.  Please be sensible.

Here's an example of a HIIT bodyweight workout, use the same recovery periods as above;

Interval - Rope skipping or shuffle
Recovery - squats

Simple, both exercises utilising the legs, and the skipping or shuffles if can't skip will also increase heart rate.  Give it a go and let me know your results :)

Please take advice from a professional (like myself) before attempting these intervals if you are in any doubt whatsoever.

Working Out - How to get more Bang from your Buck!

How long does your gym workout take?  Are you in and out within 20, 30 or 45 minutes, feeling exhilerated about the effort you've just put in.  Or are you crusing along for an hour or two watching your favourite T.V programme while hopping between the X- Trainer, Bike and Treadmill?

If you are the former, fantastic, you are giving your body a metabolic fat burning boost that your body will constantly adapt and respond to. If you are the latter, unfortunately your not doing yourself any favours if you are looking to achieve for example a long term weight loss goal.  While its true you may have a greater calorie expenditure, these calories used will not necessarily give you the after burn effect, otherwise known as 'EPOC' or 'Excess Post Oxygen Consumption' your looking for to continue burning for potentially hours after you've fininshed your workout. 

EPOC is the work your body continues to do post workout.  During this time your body is processing oxygen at a much higher rate as it rebuilds and repairs itself in order to return to its pre-exercise state. It is dependant on the intensity of the workout and the individual, but the afterburn affect could cause your metabolic rate to be increased for a further 16 to 24 hours or more!

Generally speaking the more intense the workout, the more energy is expended to recover.  It has been shown that activities of high intensity both aerobic and anaerobic such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), and strengthening and resistance training cause the greatest EPOC effect. 

Long slow steady state cardio on the other hand has the least effect on EPOC so if you are a 'super long steady state cardio player' you may want to rethink your game plan!

See my next post for a High Intensity EPOC Workout!