The time-crunched athlete

by • August 12, 2013 • FitnessComments (0)892

High-intensity training can keep workouts brief, productive

Fitness in Alaska As summer starts to wind down and school starts, we get back to our routines. For a lot of us, it means juggling more schedules, activities and appointments, which can lead to less “me” time. How do we keep fitness a priority when we have so many demands for our attention?

Fortunately, the latest scientific research suggests that shorter cardio sessions might be best for fat loss. How would you feel if you could actually end up burning more fat in the long run while holding on to more of your muscle? Well, it’s true. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is on the fast track to becoming the standard for steady and sustained fat loss.

HIIT is what it says: high-intensity. In general, push yourself really hard, giving it your all, for a short period of time, then have a short period of recovery of less intense work. With HIIT, the workouts are shorter, 30 to 60 minutes, but you’ll actually be working harder than the person doing a marathon session on the treadmill next to you.  HIIT promotes maximize fat loss within a shorter time frame and also is great to train for sports as the movements are done in explosive and high-speed ways.

HITT generally uses a variety of movements, which complements such activities as running, cycling or other fitness passions. Although hard work, the moves are not complicated, and generally are repeated often enough to conquer the appropriate exercise technique.

HITT is usually performed with a group, which makes it seem less difficult than if struggling through on your own. The energy of the group helps everyone perform better.

HITT is about working at a harder level of intensity for you. People of various fitness levels can work out together since modifications to a move can decrease or increase the intensity as needed. For example, if the exercise is a squat, it can be altered for more or less range of motion, use weights or dumbbells, or add in plyometric movements.

HIIT is best done two to three times per week. Muscles need active rest, so this type of training is best done with a day or two of other types of training in between.

Another benefit to HIIT is that it increases metabolism. Not only do you burn more calories during the actual workout, but you also rev up your energy-burning systems throughout the rest of day for a higher total daily caloric burn beyond your normal activity. When you push so hard in short intervals and give little recovery time, your body tries to replace the oxygen used during the exercise. Putting oxygen back in the systems requires calories, which means you continue to burn more calories post exercise.

Using multi-joint actions and targeting large muscle groups, exercises used in HITT formats also will result in increased strength, endurance and cardiovascular performance.

And, because HIIT produces some impact, it is beneficial to bone health. HITT is in a controlled environment where the impact potentials are modifiable and progressive. If you’re just getting started with some plyometric training, you can perform a smaller amount of the movement with the impact and overtime gradually add repetitions.

When we give our all, we get a natural release of happy chemicals – serotonin and adrenaline. We let go of the worries of the day and get to focus on our movement, the group energy, the music and the fun. After the workout, the serotonin continues and we feel calmer than before the workout.

The results and benefits of HIIT are undeniable. Astonishingly, it is possible to get more by doing less.


Janet Warner is general manager of Fitness Services at The Alaska Club.

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