No. That’s not a spelling error there, in the title. And I’m not suggesting you take one for the team. Or drop something illegal down your throat! HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, a form of cardiovascular exercise that’s become quite popular recently.
What is HIIT?
According to www.precor.com: “HIIT is a well-documented strategy for improving health, building muscle, burning fat and increasing endurance. A HIIT workout alternates between short work intervals (70 to 90% max heart rate) and rest periods (60 to 65% max heart rate).”
An easy way to calculate your target heart rate is to deduct your age from 220, which tells you the maximum number of beats/minute your heart should be pumping. Of course, these days there are numerous types of heart rate monitors to choose from which will quickly tell you whether you’re achieving your target heart rate while working out.
Don’t work out regularly because you hate it? Fine. Stop reading. Go ahead. Accept that the temple your Creator gave you will probably start letting you down, if not sooner, then later. Instead of scheduling in time for workouts, just schedule in time for feeling crappy and dealing with illness. Don’t believe me? I’ve blogged about it before in Fountain Of Youth. There’s tons of proof out there. As a start, I recommend Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D., an entertaining and fairly easy read on the topic. They explain the science behind how working out regularly can help you (as the back cover states) “avoid 70 percent of the normal problems of aging and eliminate 50 percent of illness and injury.”
Still with me? Okay. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. If you haven’t already, for godsakes find something, anything, physical that you like, or can at least tolerate, and do it regularly. (Harry, who is a doctor and also the Henry S. Lodge person mentioned above, has seven rules at the back of the book and Numero Uno – just like a simple prescription for health – is “Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.”) Walk, run, go to the gym, take up something like soccer or the latest craze I’ve been hearing about, pickle ball. Swim. Dance. Oh, speaking of dance, how about Jazzercise? I know. Not everyone thinks they have the coordination. Maybe you don’t even like to dance? Shame, because this program, of which I’ve been an instructor for fifteen years, has so much to offer. It’s fun, you get a sense of community from the other members, it’s physically, and also mentally, challenging. It’s been proven that doing a workout program that involves both body and brain helps stave off age-related illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Oh, and Jazzercising keeps you in-the-know with your kids, and/or grandkids, as far as trending music is concerned. We have a few HIIT option classes, like Fusion, Flip Fusion and Interval Fusion.
Not convinced about Jazzercise? Or maybe you live in the boondocks and there are no classes nearby? Okay. You could become an instructor? Check us out at www.jazzercise.com and while contemplating that talk to your trainer about adding HIIT to your weekly workout regimen. Maybe you want to go it alone on the HIIT parade? Ha. Just google it and you’ll see tons of suggestions for coming up with your own HIIT workout program.
So, why HIIT? As Alice Park points out in time.com: “The premise seems too good to be true: that working out in short, intense bursts can be just as good for your heart and muscles as longer endurance regimens.”
Well, there’s science behind it. Hakan Westerblad, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Karolinska Institute, tested muscle tissue samples from participants who cycled really hard for 30 seconds, then took a 4-minute break, then repeated this five more times. “Our study shows that three minutes of high-intensity exercise breaks down calcium channels in the muscle cells,” says Westerblad. “This causes a lasting change in how the cells handle calcium, and is an excellent signal for adaptation, such as the formation of new mitochondria.”
Huh? Well, think of mitochondria as the cells’ power plants. New mitochondria = increased muscle endurance. This happens through normal training, yes, but much more with interval training. And while elite athletes’ bodies may adapt to the effects of this type of training, for us recreational athletes the results of HIIT are significant. And also long-lasting. You may be done your workout, yet for the next 24 hours your body is responding. With ongoing molecular changes in muscle cells. By rebuilding oxygen stores. By stimulating production of human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450%. (HGH is responsible for increased caloric burn and slowing down the aging process.) Yes. All of this good stuff is happening over the next 24 hours. And you’re not even working out! How cool is that?
Over time, HIIT training can increase your VO2 max, i.e. the body’s ability to use oxygen for energy, so that when you go back to your regular cardio workouts, you’ll find you can do them with more ease.
So, if I haven’t sold you on HIIT yet, let’s just quickly look at 8 great benefits as listed at www.shape.com by Charlotte Hilton Andersen:
- It’s efficient – Sorry, the “I have no time to workout” excuse doesn’t cut it.
- You’ll burn more fat
- You’ll build a healthier heart
- There’s no equipment necessary
- You lose weight, not muscle
- You’ll increase your metabolism
- You can do it anywhere – I love this! Says Andersen, “You can do it in a boat, you can do it with a goat.” Ah. Dr. Seuss. “You can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have,” Andersen continues. Yet again, no excuses.
- It’s seriously challenging.
So, take a regular HIIT. Your body will fall all over itself, for the next day or so, thanking you.