Since your time spent working out is an investment in your physical health, you probably want to get the most out of every bead of sweat, heartbeat, and hard breath. Utilizing a high-intensity interval training program may be just what you need to take your workout to the next level.
What is High-Intensity Interval Training?
High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a technique of exercise that is performed using short, unsustainable bursts of activity which is coupled with varying intervals of rest. At times this rest, or recovery period, during workouts may be active rather than stationary. This type of exercise combines both aerobic and anaerobic methods in order to help your body adapt and develop to improve your performance.
Anaerobics are the core of HIIT. They are the short, unsustainable bursts of activity that condition your body in order to improve your body’s capability of performing an intense activity when there is a lack of oxygen. This lack of oxygen is a result of performing at or near your maximum effort. During this period of anaerobic activity, your body is using glycogen and glucose as fuel.
Aerobics are implemented during your recovery periods in order to provide your body with the oxygen that it needs after the short bursts of anaerobics. This ensures that your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints are getting the oxygen-rich blood that is needed. This exercise will help your body get back to its recovered state, allowing you to perform anaerobically again.
What are the Benefits?
There are some general benefits that you may experience as a result of high-intensity interval training including:
Fat and calorie burning during shorter periods of time
Continued fat and calorie burn long after your workouts end
Fat loss and muscle gain
More nuanced benefits like specific gains, mental stamina, and increased flexibility will be a result of the types of HIIT that you participate in, depending on your fitness goals.
What to Watch out for…
A significant number of sports-related injuries are a result of overuse or overextension. When you are exercising you should always pay attention to the signals that your body is sending your brain. If you are experiencing acute pain, you should stop, rest, and if it worsens, seek medical advice. Inflammation and swelling that cause pain and limit your range of motion are indicators you need to stop what you are doing and give your body a chance to recover. Continuing activity despite signs of injury may cause additional damage.
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Significant structures in your body, such as your ligaments and tendons, are already under immense strain when operating. Sudden increases in intensity in your activity can have a serious impact on these, especially if you have had a previous injury. For example, your Achilles tendon can develop tendinitis or even rupture if you drastically increase the intensity of your workout in a short amount of time.
You may want to explore the use of orthotic aids such as braces, insoles, and/or custom shoes to reduce unnecessary stress or strain that your body may experience. They can stabilize and support areas like your Achilles tendon, allowing it to perform optimally while you are working out.
In order to get started on your high-intensity interval training, you may want to speak with a personal trainer specializing in HIIT or seek out local programs at gyms that focus on CrossFit. You can also look into programs such as P90x that allow you to do these exercises from home.
Using a HIIT routine can provide you with the necessary conditioning to achieve new levels of performance while giving you something new to focus on while you are exercising. Even if you are not a high-level athlete it can serve as a great way to get more out of your exercise routine and help you get the results that you are looking for. Challenging yourself through high-intensity interval training can also help you to recognize and overcome physical limitations that may be hindering your growth.
Matt Weik, owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured all over the globe as well as having published more than a dozen books. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Find out more at www.weikfitness.com.