by Yaromil Fong-Olivares
There’s a lot of discussion about High-Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) in the exercise and fitness world. “Work harder, achieve better results and burn more fat, in a fraction of the time,” sounds like a fabulous idea, but it is one easier read than done. Incorporating H.I.I.T. into your exercise routine requires comfort with anaerobic training. Anaerobic is a fancy way to say without oxygen, and yes, that’s the stage of training in which you are almost at your maximum capacity and feel like you cannot breathe.
Think of it this way, if you were an Apple computer this is the point in which the rainbow wheel starts turning, your body starts panicking and your mind starts to throw in the towel. High intensity is really a nice way to say: work as hard as you can until it feels like you are going to die and then release and rest. I know it does not sound as glamorous when explained but it is highly effective and efficient. Here are some reasons why you want to try H.I.I.T.:
Strength: H.I.I.T. involves pushing your body to its limits. As you might have guessed, your body adapts and thus after a few weeks of say, heavy kettlebell deadlifting, you might find yourself lifting your grocery bags with less effort; a good way to impress your partner or roommates.
Mental Toughness: It may feel like it but, unless you have a preexisting health condition like heart disease chances are you are not going to die from H.I.I.T. A healthy person, exercising in a controlled environment will stop when the body is really at risk. Continuing to push your body and your psyche will develop mental resiliency and allow you to push yourself harder and harder.
Real Results: H.I.I.T. gives you the same physiological results as long duration cardio in a fraction of the time. One study found that after six weeks subjects (healthy men in their 20’s) using H.I.I.T. for 20 minutes once per week achieved better cardiovascular results than subjects engaged in moderate exercise five hours per week. That’s a lot of extra time you can spend cooking healthy meals, hanging with friends or reading, without the guilt of avoiding your workout due to lack of time.
More Muscles: Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that H.I.I.T. is more effective at burning fat and building muscle, thus changing your body’s composition permanently without the caloric restriction suggested by most weight loss diets.
The same study also found that H.I.I.T. improves insulin uptake and is beneficial for managing diabetes.
If you are serious about losing fat and improving your health without going under the surgical knife AND you are willing to work hard despite the temporary discomfort, then H.I.I.T. is for you. If you haven’t exercised since 1985, start with two times a week with a couple of days of rest in between workouts. Also, consider hiring a trainer. H.I.I.T. feels like a chore at the beginning, but it does become addictive after a while, so give yourself some time to build your pain tolerance and find the joy of pushing your body to its limits.
For a cool H.I.I.T. infographic click here.
Yaromil Fong-Olivares, ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Reiki healer and lifestyle coach, empowers women to aim beyond weight loss and expand their wellness and fitness goals to include lifelong health, functional fitness, self-love and and healing. Learn more about her work at Brown Stone Fitness.