Less is more
Imagine yourself in a race. As soon as you hear the ready-steady-go you start running as fast as you possibly can.
At first you feel great. You have lots of energy, you feel the adrenalin rush and the power in your muscles.
After about 10 seconds, you get the first feeling of exhaustion. Your muscles are slowly losing their initial explosive power and you are breathing heavily. You need to slow down a bit.
After running for additional minute and a half, you are really starting to feel the lactic acid in your legs and you are feeling out of breath. You need to slow down a bit more to be able to continue running.
If the race continues longer than 2 minutes, you will need to slow down your speed again to be able to carry on.
The reason why you need to slow down bit by bit is related to the different energy reserves in your body that your muscles are using to perform the exercise. When one source of energy is used up, another one needs to be started. Each one of the energy sources ATP, ATP-PCr, glycolytic, and oxidative systems requires more time than the previous one to get going and start preparing the required amount of energy for the exercise to continue. Slowing down the speed of exercising allows time for the energy source to get activated.
So, your body has its ways of keeping you going while exercising, as long as you are willing to slow down your pace. However, if your goal is to get better, stronger or leaner, going on endlessly at a slow pace is not what you want to be doing! The faster you are going and the more intense the workout is, the more energy your muscles are using both during and after the workout. In other words, a 100m sprint burns more calories per minute than jogging at a comfortable pace. If you want to get some real results in a short period of time, going for short bursts of exercise at a time is far more beneficial than long workouts at a steady pace.
High-intensity interval training, it’s what everyone’s talking about
In order to get the maximal benefits of working out and using your body’s energy reserves as effectively as possible, there is a specific method that you want to be following.
It’s called HIIT.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. The concept has been around for years, but it’s only lately that HIIT has become the hot, new trend in the fitness world – and for a good reason!
Training at high intensity means going all out, at your maximal speed, strength, and power from the very beginning until the end of the workout. When working out at high intensity, you are using your body’s energy sources at a more rapid rate than with low or moderate intensity exercise. Basically it means that you are burning more calories! And not just any type of calories, but especially stored fat. As you body needs time and energy to recover from the high-intensity workout, HIIT increases the amount of calories you burn both during AND after the workout.
If you’re not interested in burning fat, HIIT also has a positive effect on your endurance and overall fitness level. It’s also great for building lean muscle mass unlike normal aerobic exercise. Together with the right kind of diet you will definitely get more energy with high-intensity inteval training.
However, like described in the beginning, going at your max does not last very long. As the workout continues, you will need to slow down quite quickly, which then again slows down the benefits. Not cool.
That’s why you need the second i of HIIT: high-intensity interval training!
Intervals can be explained as periods of rest or recovery. Whether it’s a full rest in the middle of the workout or a period at a slower pace or a set of exercises done with alternating muscle groups, when you add intervals into your workouts, you give your body’s energy reserves more time to fill up amid the workout. This, on the other hand, prolongs the duration of your workout, which again adds up to the benefits. When you do the workout at high-intensity AND for a longer period you can multiply the advantages of this type of training!
For maximal benefits of HIIT, you need to really push yourself when doing the workout. This will take you past the upper end of your aerobic zone and allow your body to replenish your energy reserves during the recovery intervals.
What else is good about HIIT
Most of us want to get fitter and healthier, but can’t bear the thought of having to spend hours after hours on the treadmill or simply don’t have time for it. So, in addition to the indisputable physical benefits of HIIT training, working out with high-intensity also saves time. It is a workout method so effective it’s almost too good to be true! HIIT really is the smartest way to workout.
With HIIT you get world-class results, quickly! That’s just perfect, isn’t it?
It doesn’t mean high-intensity training is necessarily easier, though.. Working out with high-intensity means that you need to engage in giving each workout all you got. There’s no slacking when doing HIIT.
I’m just a beginner, can I do HIIT?
Yes, you can! High-intensity interval exercises are suitable for everyone, even the beginners. Although the idea of these workouts is to apply maximal effort, you are doing the workout at YOUR max. If you’re just a beginner, your maximum might not be the maximum of a more advanced athlete, but it does not matter. As long as you are giving the workout all you got and exiting your own comfort zone, that’s when you are making progress!
Numerous studies have ranked HIIT as a top method of working out due to the superior results one gets when following this type of working out. In a study conducted by Shiraev & Barclay in 2012, the benefits of HIIT exercises especially for patients with a high risk of cardiovascular disease were discussed. The study showed that when following a program of high-intensity workouts, a significant decrease in the risk of getting the disease was achieved. HIIT also improved the subjects’ maximal oxygen uptake (cardiovascular fitness) along with helping with weight loss.
Even though this type of training if suitable for everyone, there are a couple of points to note before you start squatting at full speed! Firstly, if you have any medical condition or have any doubts whether HIIT training is suitable for you, please consult your doctor before getting started. Secondly, always warm up first before starting a workout! It’s really important to get your muscles warm first, that way you will minimize the risk of any injuries and will get better results.
We believe in HIIT!
The world of Home Workout Challenge is all about high-intensity interval workouts. If you aren’t convinced yet, sign up for our free 7-Day Home Workout Challenge to try it yourself. You’ll love it, guaranteed!
Go on, give HIIT a try!