Fitness Column: High Intensity Interval Training

Fitness Column
High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an increasingly popular method of cardiovascular exercise for many people. 

As opposed to more traditional aerobic training where individuals maintain roughly the same level of exertion throughout the exercise session, HIIT changes the exertion level throughout the workout.

A typical HIIT sessions has the individual warm up, then increase the intensity of the workout to a level of five to six on a scale of 10, then increase the level of intensity to seven or higher (usually 8 to 8.5), then repeat the cycle (without the warm up) several times.

The amount of time spent at higher and lower levels of exertion will vary depending on a person’s goals and abilities, but a good place to start would be with the recovery phase lasting twice as long as the exertion phase.

One benefit of HIIT is that it can shorten your workout time. If, for example, you were to warm up for five minutes, perform three to four cycles of one minute exertion and two minute recovery phases, and cool down for five minutes, your cardio workout would last about 20 minutes. 

This is just one of many options as you can adjust the length of the exertion phase, the length of the recovery phase, the intensity of each phase, and the total time exercised.

  • Other benefits of HIIT include the following:
  • An increase in both aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • A decrease in fasting insulin
  • An increase in insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced abdominal and subcutaneous fat
  • Improved vascular health
  • A reverse of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome
  • An increase in post exercise metabolic rate

HIIT is not necessarily a replacement for traditional cardiovascular workouts, but best used as an addition to those workouts. Performed once or twice a week they will add variety to your aerobic workouts.

As with any modification to your exercise program, take caution and make sure the new workout is right for you. Risks that could be associated with HIIT include an increased risk of a cardiac event and an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury. Check with your physician or a trained exercise specialist if you have any questions or concerns.

So if you’re looking for some variety and a way to quickly jump-start your aerobic workout, consider joining the growing number of people who are adding HIIT to their fitness routine.

Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center. Direct questions about the information in this column to Pegg at 662-5232.

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