By Paula Stephens
What would Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons think of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? I would like to believe they would think it’s pretty awesome because HIIT workouts give you all the benefits of longer workouts but without spending an hour or more of your time. Of course there is a catch – You have to work out harder for that shorter period of time. HIIT workouts will provide you the most benefit in the shortest period of time…and who doesn’t want that!
How to incorporate a HIIT workout
The best thing about HIIT training (in addition to being very time efficient) is any activity you enjoy doing you can turn into a HIIT workout. Whether you find your fun running, biking, walking or on an elliptical, simply add in 4-6, 30 second all out effort intervals followed by 2-3 minutes of lower intensity work and you now have a HIIT workout. Again, the catch is – ALL OUT EFFORT! In order for these workouts to actually make you more fit, burn more calories, make you stronger and increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs your intervals must be hard.
How fit you have to be
So before you start with the self talk about how you aren’t fit and HIIT workouts are for people who are already fit – just stop! Anyone at any fitness level can add short bursts of high intensity effort into their workouts and benefit from it. In fact, research suggest that people who participate in this type of workout actually adhere to an exercise program longer and have more success than those who participate in longer endurance activities (1). One of the most common barriers people have with sustaining a regular exercise problem is making the time to do. By incorporated HIIT into your program you are more likely to continue with the program because you only need 30 minutes to do a workout that will actually improve your fitness, support your weight loss goals and build stronger muscles. So in between soccer drop-off, the PTA meeting, getting dinner on the table and putting kids to bed squeeze in 30 minutes that will in fact make a difference.
What age can do HIIT workouts
Let’s recap. HIIT programs save you time, give you the most improvement over the shortest period of time and you can start right now regardless of how fit you are. As if that wasn’t enough, HIIT programs work for everyone from generation Y to the baby boomer (2). Now that all of your excuses have been set straight, get out and try this type of exercise for yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Your body will thank you for taking time to build a better version of you!
1. Evidence based exercise – clinical benefits of high intensity interval training. Shiraev, T., Barclay, G. University of Notre Dame, School of Medicine, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Australian Family Physician 2012 Dec;41(12):960-2.
2. Low-volume interval training improves muscle oxidative capacity in sedentary adults. Hood, M.S., Little, J.P., Tarnopolsky, M.A., et al. Exercise Metabolism Research Group, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2011 Oct;43(10):1849-56
– Paula works part-time as an adjunct professor for Metro State University of Denver as well as coaches people to achieve a state of health that matches their goals through a holistic realistic approach to overall health.