According to recent surveys, HIIT is regarded as one of the top fitness trends for 2018. The training technique involves going all out in quick bursts, followed by a short rest period and then repeating the cycle.
Here is an example workout:
Total Workout Time: 21 minutes
This keeps your heart rate at a very high level for a majority of the workout. Although the workout is only 21 minutes, the intense bursts allow you to reach higher heart rates compared to a steady-state workout.
Number one reason why people don’t exercise is not having enough time. It has already been proven that people who don’t exercise are not any busier than those who do exercise. They instead put exercise last on their priority list, below activities such as watching TV. Best way to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle is to keep it short and sweet. So if you think that you don’t have time, HIIT is for you!
How does a quick workout burn more calories than a longer workout?
Two reasons why:
- Higher intensity creates greater energy demands so 2 minutes of HIIT burns more calories than 2 minutes of steady-state
- Creates a state in the body where oxygen use is increased for up to two hours after the workout is completed. To utilize more oxygen, the body uses and burns more calories. This is what we call an increase in metabolism!
Like anything in life, staying in your comfort zone usually results in stagnancy. Our body will either adapt for the better, stay the same or adapt for the worse. The body prefers to stay the same. Unhealthy behaviors and aging cause it to adapt for the worse.
Our brain knows that a good heart will prolong our life but our body doesn’t know that.
Our body has to be told what to work on and this applies to both strength training and cardiovascular training. By going to our upper limits and struggling, our body becomes aware of our wants and increased needs and then adapts accordingly to increase our upper limits in an attempt to avoid future struggle. Increasing the upper limits means a stronger healthier heart.
The concept of HIIT is not dependant on having any particular equipment. It requires your ability to go hard for short bursts of time. This can be done at home with jumping jacks. On the track with sprints. In the gym with circuit strength training. No need to go to the gym or use any fancy gym equipment!
At any particular time, your body is in of two states. Either in the Anabolic state which is positive and means your body is recovering and building muscle. Or the catabolic stage which is negative and basically means that your body is wasting away. The goal of a workout is to stimulate the body, not annihilate it.
We are creatures of habit. We are also creatures of adaptation. That is why we are at the top of the food chain. Both mentally and physically, if we provide the right environment for a particular trait, we improve that particular trait. We adapt to find a solution to a problem or stress. Does your body think there is a problem when you jog at 60% intensity for 30 minutes every day? Or does your body think there is a problem when you jog at 90-100% intensity for 2 minutes?
The first one makes your body feel confident that it can handle the 30 minutes jog with not trying that hard so there is no need to adapt.
The second one although a much shorter time signals to your body that the heart is not strong enough to handle our needs.
Our body may think that there is a predator we need to run away from and us running at 90-100% of our capacity means that the predator was very close to succeeding in its hunt. As a survival mechanism, our body will try to adapt to make sure we are not as ill-prepared next time. What does that look like? It looks like increased cardiovascular capacity and increased endurance.
Increased heart health and endurance results in increased blood flow. In addition, intense exercise environments signal secretions of cells that increase vasodilation and decrease cholesterol. So as a collective, the heart pumps more blood and our arteries and veins increase their ability to transport that blood. This leads to increased blood flow. Increased blood flow means better workouts and fewer injuries.
The more you challenge your heart on a daily basis, the more capable the heart becomes at pumping blood throughout the body. An overall increase in blood flow also means increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex during and moments after a workout.
A clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, John Ratey, says that...
“They’re activating this prefrontal area”… “One of the jobs [of this part of the brain] is to inhibit the impulsivity coming up from the emotional part of the brain.”
As a result, an exercise that increases blood flow leads to a stronger improvement in focus and attention. It also means a mood lift!
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