5 Reasons to HIIT Your Workout Hard
By Jennifer Barrows
How many times have you gone to the gym and gone through the motions of your regular routine – leisurely pushing the pedals around on the recumbent bike, while reading a magazine or texting away on your smartphone? Or maybe you walk or run a few miles each week, but don’t feel like you are increasing your endurance as quickly as you want to and you certainly aren’t seeing major results when you look in the mirror. Are you wondering why you aren’t getting the results you want from your workouts? Trust me when I say, you’re not alone.
If any of the above sounds like you, it may be time to try something new, like the increasingly popular High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. This workout style has fitness fanatics and beginners alike singing its praises… and for good reason!
Over the last few years, HIIT workouts have become the workout of choice for trainers, celebs and those on a tight schedule that are craving a great workout with awesome results to accompany it.
So, what is HIIT exactly? HIIT workouts focus on 3 main components, which include:
- Moderate effort. For 2 minutes, go at a moderate pace. If you are on a treadmill, you should be working, but walking at a pace you feel you can sustain long-term.
- Harder effort. For another 2 minutes, kick it up a few notches. Start jogging. You should be feeling your heart rate go up and your breathing quicken, but you should still be able to hold a conversation.
- All-out effort. For 1 minute, run as hard as you can. You should really feel your heart rate now and it should be very difficult or near impossible to have a conversation.
The above describes an interval cycle. The most effective HIIT workouts will incorporate 5 interval cycles per workout.
So why should you try HIIT?
- Your heart will love you. Your heart is a huge ball of muscle and like the rest of the muscles in your body, it won’t stay strong if you don’t use it! With HIIT, your heart rate goes up and down throughout your workout. This is better than maintaining a steady heart rate because to increase strength, your heart needs to work and have time to rest. Think of your biceps. When you lift weights, you don’t do 50 repetitions and then walk away. You do a set of 10, rest – and then do 10 more reps until you are done with your workout. The heart needs the same kind of workout and HIIT provides that.
- You’ll save time. HIIT is efficient. You can get a full workout in as little as 25 minutes! Even if you only have time for 10 or 15 minutes, you still get more benefit than running at a steady pace on the treadmill. How’s that for no excuses! That’s good news, because even if your schedule is packed, you can surely find 10 to 25 minutes for a good sweat! And bonus, it can be a lot of fun!
- You will boost your mitochondria. These guys are the energy centers of your cells. They produce ATP, adenosine triphosphate, which fuels every cell in your body. Scientists think that mitochondria hold the key to your lifespan. Who wouldn’t want more of that? When you perform HIIT consistently, as in 2 to 3 times each week, you increase your body’s energy burning centers. Your cells will actually produce more mitochondria and that means a faster metabolism, which will help you burn more calories. Burning more calories means more fat loss, leaving room for lean muscle mass and a sleek and toned physique! As if that weren’t enough, you continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours after your HIIT workout! Mitochondria are also important for keeping blood sugar levels healthy, preventing heart disease, preventing diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s, to name a few.
- You can do HIIT anywhere. You don’t need to have a gym membership, or any fancy equipment. Google “at home HIIT workouts” and follow a set interval pattern for 25 minutes and you’re done! You can also use intervals for any activity. You can do swim intervals, walk intervals, run intervals, weight train in intervals. Heck, you can even do sun salutations at different intensities and speeds. Really, HIIT yoga is a thing!
- HIIT is challenging and fun! If you have been exercising for years, HIIT ups the ante. Your seasoned body will feel challenged and HIIT makes your workouts fun again. It is like setting and achieving little goals throughout your entire workout so you can feel accomplished every time. If you are new to exercise, here’s some good news: HIIT goes at your pace. You determine the intensity of the workouts because you decide what a mild/moderate/hard level feels like for you. This means that you have a better chance of sticking to your workouts long-term. Just make sure that as you gain endurance and strength, you take your intervals to new heights, continuing to challenge yourself, thus creating results – and improving your health!
So, save your magazines for another time and text your friends later. The next 25 minutes are yours to really HIIT it hard! Go for it! If you HIIT, comment below and let us know why you enjoy it!
Jennifer Barrows is an Empowered Single Mom, Writer and Certified Health Coach, practicing north of Boston. She received her health coaching certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in December of 2013. Her coaching practice focuses on helping guide women through life transitions, using food and lifestyle upgrades to improve their moods and outlook.
She has written for local newspapers and just published a book, Still Together: A Single Mom’s Guide To Healing After Divorce.
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