Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday - High Intensity Interval Training

I just found out that I've been using "tabata" incorrectly, what a fun discovery!!! I thought the two were interchangeable, not the case. It's a square and rectangle kind of deal.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): train at an intense level for a period of time followed by training at a medium level to recover, repeat this 3-10 times.

Tabata: high intensity interval training in which you train at your max for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds, you repeat this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.



So, you might be thinking... sounds kinda nasty. It's a bear to get through, but there are some awesome benefits to this shorter intense workout style. While I recommend you look into HIIT to see if it could be good for you, I'll list out some of what I consider the "pros" of HIIT. Here are three great pros.

Benefit 1: you'll lose more fat!
This study on High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss put together a remarkable table showing data from numerous HIIT studies which shows the affects of HIIT on subcutaneous fat (the stuff you see), trunk fat (fat around your midsection), body mass, and waist circumference, as well as VO2 max and insulin sensitivity.
You can find the table here and the rest of the study here.

Benefit 2: you'll improve both your aerobic and anaerobic energy supply systems!
Not sure what that means? You're not alone. I have issues keeping them straight. Here's the deal...
aerobic energy system: your body uses oxygen to kick off reactions in your muscles that create ATP, or fuel
anaerobic energy system: your body breaks down sugar to kickstart a different reaction in your muscles to create ATP
Your aerobic energy system is trained in steady state cardio (like walking or jogging). With HIIT, you get your anaerobic energy system too.
Why should you care? By training your anaerobic system, you're increasing your body's ability to perform explosive movements.
Peak Performance does a way better job of explaining this than I could ever hope to, read more here.

Benefit 3: you'll increase your ability to metabolize carbs and fat!
Essentially, you'll train your body to use these macronutrients more effectively for energy. Seriously, how awesome is that?! Read more here.

Bonus Benefit 4: your workout is done faster!
Who among us couldn't use some extra time in their day? I don't know about all of you, but my dance card is pretty full....throw laundry, cooking, other chores, and studying on top of it and I'm scrambling for time. Today, I did a HIIT workout instead of steady state cardio and I was able to blast over 200 calories in just a half hour.

The results from today's workout! Bonus benefit 5: crazy hair
How many of you think you'll get out give high-intensity interval training a whirl? You can do it with most any type of activity! Burpees, cycling, running, skipping, jump rope, swimming...the possibilities are endless.

My go-to HIIT workout involves a track (or any flat surface really) and about twenty minutes. I use an app called "Seconds Pro" and programmed a timer so I have a working set time of 20 seconds and a rest period of 60 seconds.

My intervals:
2-5 minute warm up walk
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Sprint 20 seconds
Recovery walk 60 seconds
Spring 20 seconds
2-5 minute cool-down walk

Today was the first time I was able to complete the entire thing without taking a "stop and clutch your knees so you don't fall over" break. It was a wonderful feeling!

More recommended reading:
Effects of Moderate-Intensity Endurance and High-Intensity Intermittent Training on Anaerobic Capacity and VO2 Max (Tabata himself is an author on this one!)
The Scientific Basis for High-Intensity Interval Training
High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss

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