High Intensity Interval Training* Gets You In Shape

This is my first blog post of the year! May 2017 bring many informative and interesting posts about our life with intermittent fasting (IF) and fitness!

Endurance Training or High Intensity Interval Training?

On New Year’s Eve, I got to the gym for my workout and I found some terrible and yet freeing news. The gym would be closed from 15:00 December 31st 2016 until 15:00 January 3rd 2017. Good for the gym employees, bad for my workout schedule. Oh well, IF has made me a more accepting and calm person, we are flexible with the diet regimen as well as workouts, I could use a few days rest. I still had time to get in my last workout of the year, though.

If it had been a regular workout day schedule for me, I had planned a 40-minute ride on the rowing machine: an endurance workout. However, with the news of the gym closing for the holiday, I changed my plan to a high intensity interval-training (HIIT) workout, still on the rowing machine. Intense is no exaggeration for this workout. This workout gives the exerciser more benefits for a shorter workout than endurance training (ET). I try for three HIIT workouts and one endurance workout per week. Let’s talk about how it works and then discuss the benefits of this short but powerful workout.

HIIT Better Than Chocolate Ice Cream

First, how it works: HIIT consists of a 2-3 minute warm-up, then a 30-second burst of all out exercise (sprint, stair-stepper, elliptical, any endurance machine really), sport-1283791_1280followed by a 90-second recovery period of slow and easy exercise (one can do 4-15 intervals of intense exercise followed by recovery periods), and then a 2-3 minute cool down period. I do ten intervals, at present, for a total workout of 22 minutes. That’s half the time of an ET workout. Trust me HIIT is intense, and if you are just starting out on this exercise regimen, I would recommend only doing a few intervals and working up to more (at least eight). 30 seconds does not seem like much, but if you do it right, you will be winded. Also, HIIT workouts should not be done on consecutive days. The body needs at least one day of rest to recover fully from this extremely intense exercise.

Second, the benefits: for two hours after the HIIT workout, the exerciser’s body is still burning calories. This is due to the depletion of oxygen in the muscles during the workout and the time it takes to replenish the oxygen stores in the muscles, afterwards. It’s like you are still working out for two hours after HIIT. Amazing!

The shorter time required for this exercise is an obvious benefit, one burns more fat than regular endurance training, and one realizes greater exercise gains than with ET. One can do this exercise regimen anywhere: in a gym on exercise equipment, on the street with just running gear, on a hill (I found a great hill for this exercise in Pristina, Kosovo). Anywhere!

Intermittent fasting increases human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone in and of itself, and so does HIIT. I will dedicate at least one entire post about these important hormones that decrease with age. Anything that increases them warrants recognition. HIIT increases HGH and testosterone incredibly. Very important for gaining lean muscle mass and increasing the body’s metabolism.

HIIT improves one’s metabolism, and helps to decrease insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance leads to diabetes (not good). It even increases mitochondria in the muscle, which helps to increase our energy levels. Seems like the best exercise out there, eh?

Is There Anything Bad about HIIT?

It does take a lot of effort and mental strength to stick with this exercise program. Due to the intense nature of the exercise, it is difficult to sustain the regimen. As with most exercise programs, and IF in general, it is especially hard at first. However, if you continue through the tough times, the results and benefits will amaze you, your partner, and your friends. I could barely huff and puff through four intervals at first. Now ten intervals present no problem for me. It is worth it!

As I ramped up my first interval on the rowing machine (the high intensity parts of HIIT on a rowing machine make quite a clamor), I got a lot of stares. I didn’t really care. 2016 brought me HIIT, the benefits far outweigh the difficulty, and the stares. My last workout of the year would prove to be a good one.

Tell me what you think in the comments, and feel free to follow our blog.

*Before starting any exercise program or diet regimen, consult your doctor.

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