Yet there is a way of maximising your fitness with minimal impact on your busy daily schedule. It’s called interval training. Or to use its’ more scientific name High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT describes any workout that alternates between a short period of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of low-intensity exercise of active or total rest. A given number of these high-to-low intensity sets over a period of time is an interval session. Interval training can be performed using cardiovascular exercise (running, cycling etc) or resistance exercise using either bodyweight or some form of outside resistance (dumbbells etc).
There are a number of key advantages to interval training:
-Interval training burns more fat. The constantly changing intensity levels make specific energy demands on your body, calling on the body’s different energy pathways (fats, carbohydrates etc) to fuel your exercise. As well as improving the efficiency of these energy pathways, more calories are burned this way. The intensity of the routine spikes your body’s repair mechanisms also, leading to increased calorie burn in the 24-48 hours after your workout.
-HIIT is suitable for all levels. No matter, where you are starting from, there is an interval training program for you. I use all kinds of intervals in my bootcamp classes and in my own training and I know how effective they are. An easy beginner workout is to run as fast as you can for 1-minute, take a complete rest for 2-minutes and repeat this 5 times for a very effective 15-minute HIIT workout.
-HIIT makes you younger. Yes, because of the stress placed on the body and those energy pathways I spoke about, your body has to work hard for up to 48 hours after an interval session to help your muscles recover. HIIT stimulates production of a hormone called human growth hormone (HGH) and this can increase by up to 450% in the 24-hours after a HIIT session., helping to boost metabolism and slow the aging process.
-Interval training is time efficient. It’s all about quality, not quantity. An interval session should not take more than 20 minutes. The key to an effective interval session is intensity. Getting the balance right between pushing yourself on the high-intensity part and recovering on low-intensity phases is the key to gaining the best results. A 2011 study by the American College of Sports Medicine showed that just 2 weeks of HIIT improved aerobic endurance as much as 6-8 weeks of regular endurance training.
-HIIT offers variety and ease. There are literally thousands of combinations of exercises and routines you can employ when interval training. I have used hundreds of routines in my classes alone. Variety means goodbye to boredom. Running, biking, skipping are all great modes for HIIT. You can also use bodyweight exercises such as plyometrics. No equipment is necessary for a really effect HIIT workout.
- HIIT promotes fat loss while maintaining muscle. Long, steady-state cardio exercise is associated with muscle loss as well as fat loss. Not so with HIIT. Studies show that both HIIT and weight training help you ditch the fat and keep the muscle.