Exercise Intensity…It Matters!

Seeking the Illusive Runner’s High? Want to lose fat and build muscle?
Then you need to try High Intensity Interval Training  or HIIT.

While it currently might be considered an exercise fad, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has gained merit and momentum in gyms across the country. What is HIIT? It is an exercise format that uses timed intervals for periods of intense exercise together with timed periods of active rest intervals. Often using the principles of circuit training (5-8 different exercises performed in circuit, one after the other) HIIT workouts allow a tremendous about of higher-intensity work to be accomplished beyond what could be accomplished (at the same intensity) in a continuous workout. This translates into several key physiological benefits. First, caloric burn is increased during bouts of high intensity exercise. Second, high intensity bouts of exercise activate fast twitch muscle fibers better than steady state bouts of aerobic exercise. This is especially important to adults aged 40 years and older because as we age these fibers go dormant unless they are actively recruited on a regular basis. And lastly, HIIT does not require special or additional equipment to one’s current exercise routines. Any way you look at HIIT, it increases aerobic and strength fitness levels it a shorter amount of time than a traditional strength or aerobic exercise session.

Here are some safety tips from the American College of Sport’s Medicine when planning your HIIT program:

1. Always warm up before starting intervals and cool down afterward.
2. Be cognizant of your current physical fitness; start conservatively and
gradually progress the work interval intensity.
3. Keep the number of repetitions realistic and gradually build the number
over time.
4. Only modify one variable at a time (e.g., increase intensity or duration but
not both at the same time).
5. Set the recovery interval duration and intensity to allow your heart rate to
come down below 110 BPM.

Here’s an on-line link to 7 HIIT training programs: