Wanna know why your gut still jiggles despite hours of exercise? It’s all that tedious, boring jogging. If you want to go shirtless and cut your workout time in half, say good-bye to five-mile runs and hello to high-intensity interval training or HIIT.
The concept behind HIIT is simple: Exercise as hard as you can for a few minutes, recover just long enough to stop sucking wind, and repeat. This spikes your metabolism and builds muscle quickly. And unlike those leisurely treadmill sessions, it burns calories both during a workout and (here’s the beautiful part) for up to 24 hours afterward.
In order to erase the body’s oxygen debt, fatty acids are released and used as fuel for recovery. This all happens in the time after a workout is complete. You will not receive this great benefit simply doing low intensity exercise. You need to be working out in your anaerobic zone at maximal heart rates to really see that added fat loss effect. The regiment is brutal but quick. You’ll be done with the whole thing in twenty to thirty sweat-filled (and swear-filled) minutes.
The key is to pick exercises that use the majority of muscle groups. Using HIIT for isolation exercises will be ineffective. However, using them for full body exercises like sprinting, squats, deadlifts, and plyometrics will really kick your fat loss into high gear. These exercises are all functional moves
Functional Training was originally employed by physical therapists and rehabilitation staff in order to restore strength and response to the body after accidents. However functional training has found a new lease of life in assisting with a variety of different day-to-day activities through increasing the range of motion, strength and ability for the individual through a variety of different tasks.
Things such as lifting, bending and back strength benefit enormously from HIIT workouts. Whilst most people with a keen interest in fitness are usually quite flexible and fit, even the healthiest person can discover problems or have difficulty participating in these types of activities, especially later in life. Functional moves prepare the body for these forms of activity common in our daily lives.
The exercises within HIIT have a high focus on the strengthening of abdominal muscles and back muscles. Through strengthening these muscles overall, your strength and balance will create more efficient movement patterns which lead to better core strength and less injuries. But strength is not the only benefit. Coordination improves through training or retraining the muscles to work together and the joints are also stabilized and the range of motion is increased.
For example, a squat is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.
HIIT tends to consist of multijoint, multimuscle exercises. Instead of only moving the elbows, for example, a functional exercise might involve the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles. This type of training, properly applied, can make everyday activities easier, reduce your risk of injury and improve your quality of life. This type of training may be especially beneficial as part of a comprehensive program for older adults to improve balance, agility and muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls.
Don’t think of fitness as something that is done only in a gym. By simply taking advantage of your every day movements you can turn your office or home into an effective HIIT area! It’s about conditioning your body to function correctly during day-to-day activities, whether that means lifting your kids or carrying a laundry basket up a long set of stairs. Although it’s been a trendy exercise topic for years, tailoring your workout to include functional fitness exercises is more than just throwing around a buzzword.
The key is to do a full body exercise for a certain period of time, and follow it up with a short rest interval, and then get right back into it. Yes, you are going to be breathing hard and not fully recovered before you start your next working set, but that’s what makes HIIT so effective. Your goal is to be able to work out at a high intensity for a longer period of time with less and less rest between intervals.
To progress with HIIT, you are going to want to vary your interval times. Try lowering the amount of rest time between high intensity intervals, or try jogging instead of walking. Try shaving just 5 seconds off of every rest interval each time you work out. Eventually, you will be sprinting at a higher speed for a longer period of time than when you started.
Fueling Your Workout
Fueling your exercise routines requires quality carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and fluids. Your muscles rely on carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables for a quick energy source. Protein is needed to build and maintain muscles and for healthy blood cells. Blood cells deliver nutrients and oxygen to working muscles. Basically, foods provide the petrol to the body’s engine, and fluids provide the water to your body’s radiator. Without these crucial fuels and fluids, your body will have a hard time performing at its best.
The pre-workout meal is not the time to get adventurous and try a new food. A grilled chicken sandwich or a handful of nuts might fit the pre-game meal description, but stay clear of the fried, oily food and soft drinks.
HIIT is intense exercise, it’s therefore not advisable to workout on an empty stomach. Eat some easy-to-digest carbs (a slice of toast, half a plain bagel, a banana, or cup of fruit cocktail washed down with a glass of water) to help provide fuel. If you’re a morning person, then be aware that after sleeping, the overnight fast can deplete your liver stores of carbohydrate, so a quick boost of carbs before longer exercise is recommended.
Muscles need protein for recovery and growth, and the best time to deliver protein appears to be right after exercise. Providing high-quality protein after exercise gives your muscles the fuel and the building blocks needed for both repair and for growth. Protein shakes and powders are effective, but your muscles don’t care if the protein comes from a hard-boiled egg, glass of chocolate milk or whey protein shake. Whatever you choose, more isn’t better, only 10 to 20 grams of protein is needed to provide amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to muscles.
It’s also important to stay hydrated. Not only does being well hydrated improve your performance, it can save your life. Water acts as your body’s cooling system; without sufficient water during exercise your body temperature can reach dangerously high levels. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids with meals and drink about two glasses of water two hours before exercise.
From competitive edge through to long lasting health and fitness benefits received, HIIT offers a practical, useful and important type of exercise with a proven track record in improving a person’s quality of life. It literally affects every area of your life.