I have been tirelessly watching these people for years, like guinea pigs, endlessly pedaling and strolling in their hopes of creating that lean, muscular and fit physique they dream of. Sorry to be blunt, but it will never work! I'm definitely not going to say that it is easy, it is not for the faint of heart, but for those of you who dare to push yourself to that next level!
Long slow distance (LSD) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have been an on-going cardio debate among fitness professionals for years. I for one, have been on the HIIT ban wagon for as long as I can remember and have been promoting it to my clients and athletes for the past 15 years. Since my early days as an athlete, I have always sprinted whether it was on ice or land and never really understood why someone would cycle or run for hours on end in hopes of improving performance or appearance. As an athlete we are trained to work at high intensities for ultimate performance and results and as a bonus we had the muscular lean physiques to reflect the high intensity training. Even long distance runners train at high intensity levels to help improve their long distance performance. So it makes no sense that you should not be doing the same to help achieve your personal best performance and physique. Obviously, do it at your own fitness level. You would never see a deconditioned Olympic athlete and you would definitely not see them doing endless hours of cardio to improve their performance!
So you're thinking that all this cardio that I have been doing is not healthy or beneficial? Yes, to some extent it is beneficial to your health in the sense that you are training your heart muscle. However, the question is, are you really improving your heart's health and strength to it's full potential? As well, with hours of endless cardio you are also compromising your knees, hips, ankles and low back due to the repetitive impact, which can lead to overuse injuries. Secondly, when you perform long-duration, moderate-intensity exercise, you can actually put yourself in a catabolic state in which you will start losing muscle mass. That's right - some of that hard-earned muscle will start degrading itself in your quest to get lean! HIIT training has a number of heart healthy benefits (similar to regular cardio) in addition to the reduction in training time. First of all, this type of training is far superior to steady-state exercises when it comes to increasing your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can uptake during exercise. This means that you will actually see steady improvement in your strength, speed, stamina, agility AND the way you look!
What is this HIIT training and how can I incorporate it into my daily routine? It is quite simple. HIIT is cardio performed at such an intense level that your body will spend the rest of the day expending energy just to recover from the ass-kicking you gave it. This is commonly referred to as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and it means that you consume a great deal more oxygen recovering from the exercise bout than you would have if you'd just done a steady-state workout. With this being said, your body will burn up to 9 times more calories at rest later in the day than if you were to stroll for an hour on the treadmill. Obviously you will have to push yourself beyond your cozy comfort zone that you have gotten used to over the years and really challenge yourself. It is not easy, but I guarantee that this is what your body has been craving for years!
HIIT training is short and intense and potentially burns hundreds more calories and dramatically changes the shape of your physique. I find HIIT training works best by consistently changing the speed, distance, time and intensity to shock your body into burning up extra fat calories. This routine can be done using any type of cardiovascular workout (my favorites are running, ARC and StepMill) A basic HIIT routine might consist of a five to ten minute warm-up at a moderate pace, followed by the highest increase in intensity you feel you can exert between 20 seconds to 1 minute, and a return to a moderate pace for another minute of recovery.
I typically encourage to repeat this pattern for the remainder of the workout, which can continue anywhere from six to ten repetitions or 15 to 30 minutes depending on your fitness level. Starting out, you will likely find that a one-minute rest period is too little. If this is the case, it is OK to increase your recovery time, just until you feel you can go full intensity again. As with most cardio workout routines, HIIT should be performed about three times a week and you should gradually work up your intensity, time and repetitions over a period of several weeks.
HIIT cardio interval training method is an intense and quick workout routine but very effective. If you are looking to shorten your workouts, improve your cardiovascular conditioning, improve muscular strength endurance, maintain hard earned fat burning muscle and to look and feel your best then HIIT will ensure that you will meet all your fitness goals!
Karen Gallagher customizes programs for competitive athletes and individuals from advanced to beginner fitness levels. She supports her clients with motivation, goal setting and nutritional programs to best suit their needs and goals. Discover more about health & fitness at [http://karengallagher.ca/]
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