HIIT is all the rage these days. Does that make it bad?
Not at all.
Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Think Frampton Comes Alive! for example (yeah, I know–this dates me massively!). And HIIT is both popular and valuable.
What is HIIT? It’s an acronym that stands for high intensity interval training. In other words, training with high intensity, mixed with intervals of lower intensity.
It’s a simple idea, and far from being new, the HIIT principle has been at work with active people since the beginning of time (yes, further back than Frampton Comes Alive!)
For instance, sprinting up a hill, then walking down the hill, and sprinting back up and so forth, is a form of HIIT.
In a boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA) match, the HIIT principle is constantly at work–brief, intense action, followed by longer periods of more moderate action.
The human body can only operate at top speed for about 10 seconds.
Many benefits of HIIT are being reported regularly–from significant weight loss, to vastly increased aerobic capacity, to the building of a finely-tuned human machine that burns fat for many hours after a workout!
There’s no question that incorporating HIIT into a fitness program can pay off big time. I’ve been using it more and more personally and with clients and have had excellent results. There are a few important caveats, though:
#1: HIIT can be a shock to the system if you’re not used to employing major intensity in your workouts. This is even more important if you are older. If you have any medical issues whatsoever, I strongly urge you to check with your doctor before diving into HIIT.
#2: Overdoing frequency will wreck your results, and possibly your body. It is not meant to be used every day. Many experts say 3-4 times per week is max. Common sense dictates the wisdom of this. Again, as you age, recovery slows, so always factor that in.
#3: Using too-lengthy work periods or too-short rest periods for your personal fitness level can sabotage results.
#4: Using HIIT as your sole means to fitness can result in staleness, overuse injuries, and the neglecting of other aspects of fitness. For instance, HIIT is not ideal for gaining strength, or for skill, balance, posture or restorative training. And it has to be watched closely to ensure a safe workout.
Tabata is a version of HIIT based on a 1996 study by professor Izumi Tabata and others involving Olympic speedskaters. The study used 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for 4 minutes (8 cycles). In the original study, athletes using this method trained 4 times per week, plus another day of steady-state training, for 6 weeks and obtained results similar to a group of athletes who did steady state training 5 times per week. But only the Tabata group gained anaerobic (exercise without oxygen that builds lean muscle mass) capacity benefits.
How to Employ HIIT Into a Workout
HIIT principles can be employed quite naturally, such as the example at the beginning of this article of sprinting up a hill and walking back down. The warmup for this type of workout is simply walking up a hill, and walking back down, and building up speed on the next round, such as power walking up the hill, then running up the hill with moderate intensity, and working your way up to a full sprint or series of sprints, as your level of fitness allows.
This same “walk to sprint” ramp up warmup can be employed with any HIIT exercise. And may exercises work well with HIIT principles, including body weight “standup” and mat exercises that when properly combined, create a complete cardio, central nervous system, muscle hypertrophy, symmetrical workout– all in a short period of time.
Kettlebells also work well with HIIT, as kettlebell exercises are often employed for high repetitions, so using them for high intensity interval sessions is a perfect fit.
A Workout for BOTH Men and Women?
Through observation and my experience as a personal trainer, typically men prefer muscle building workouts and women like cardio. But HIIT builds muscle AND cardio capacity. So it works nicely for both men and women.
A well-programmed HIIT session INTEGRATES strength, hypertrophy, mobility, balance, proportion, and cardio all in one workout! And when you throw in its time-saving element, HIIT really is a hit!
But HIIT’S No Fun, Right?
HIIT is no walk in the park, I ain’t gonna lie! But neither is training to win in any sport. And people who come to me to train them are interested in RESULTS! They want to win in their chosen “sport”–which is losing 20 pounds, or gaining significant lean muscle mass, or getting more energy to tackle stressful work and a hectic lifestyle.
You can always add workout music to get into the mood to kick butt and distract you from the hard work, and there are many apps for this purpose.
I use HIIT as a tool, as an overall part of our 12-Week Transformation Program. Yes, it can help you lose body fat and weight, but I always stress that a sound nutrition program is the foundation for weight loss. The training program is the icing on the cake (okay–bad analogy for those trying to lose weight!) in the program. Training is best used to chisel lean muscle mass, strengthen the heart and lungs, and boost the body’s metabolism and other systems. Using HIIT alone to lose body fat and weight is a nasty, uphill climb. And totally unnecessary.
Yes, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been hyped to the heavens as the Holy Grail of fitness. But we know by experience that there is no one “silver bullet” when it comes to health and fitness. There are merely vehicles that help us get to where we want to go. HIIT is one such tool, though I will say that as a vehicle, it’s a Ferrari, for the skilled driver!
Greek Physique™, LLC offers High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), as well as progressive calisthenics, kettlebell, barbell and band training, along with cutting edge nutritional and lifestyle coaching in Middle Tennessee and nationwide via Skype.
Our signature 12-WEEK TRANSFORMATION PROGRAM is just $40 per Session..
You can also purchase Sessions 6 at a time for $45 per Session.
I am limiting the number of new clients we’re accepting going forward, so if you’re serious about getting in the best shape of your life, do not delay. Do it now, and look, perform and feel great by Summer!
Contact Us for a FREE, No-Obligation Consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.
To Your Health & Fitness,
Patrick Rooney, Founder
GREEK PHYSIQUE™, LLC