Physical fitness has gained a reputation of being a tough mountain to climb or a treacherous milestone to reach and littered with difficulties along the path. Through some adaption of a person’s workout routine and daily life, one way to achieve this goal is through High-Intensity Interval Training.
The Mayo Clinic states that HIIT is a type of interval training that alternates short bursts (of about 30 seconds in duration) of intense activity, with longer intervals (from three to four minutes) of less intense activity. An example of this type of activity would be incorporating segments of jogging into a walk at the park.
Personal trainer Daniel Ortiz said HIIT is a great workout and a good way to change a one-hour long workout into 20-30 minutes workouts, but cautions people to be careful as they implement this into their workout routine.
“The concept behind it is that is not a little easier but it is a little bit more intense,” he said. “You have to break in slowly to it. If you are a beginner, slowly increase the number of reps and the amount of intensity of the workout.
“When I start a new program, I don’t attack it 110 percent,” he said. “For one, I want to make sure that I am getting all the principles of the training down correctly, so I am not cheating or modifying. Don’t do it halfway or modify it.”
Programs like HIIT are good because of the results they can bring; however, common sense still needs to be practiced while training, said Ortiz, who suggests that a person incorporate HIIT-type exercise into workouts twice a week, along with his or her regular training.
“The intensity is so high that you must have a recovery day,” he said. “Like with regular weight training, you should not come in here every day and go heavy and intense every single workout. That leads to injury and overtraining. That is pretty much the same with every single sport that requires physical exertion.
“You should add these programs as a change of pace because sometimes we get into a routine or a rut of doing the same thing, the same workout, and training at the same pace the entire time,” he said. “That is why I use so many different cross training types of things.”
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports one of the primary advantages of HIIT, as compared to lesser-intensity exercise, is it requires less time be spent exercising, while providing similar or greater health-related benefits, compared to established physical activity recommendations. As a result, it’s been theorized that HIIT can mitigate the most commonly cited barrier to physical activity, which is lack of time.
Personal trainer Sam Chance said HIIT requires dedication both inside and outside the workout environment.
“The High-Intensity Interval Training is very important and will burn body fat but the biggest part of burning body fat is the food,” he said. “None of my clients are dieting. It all boils down to calories in, calories out. What you are putting into your body and how much your body is burning.
“So, with doing HIIT Training that’s 20 percent of losing body fat but 80 percent is done outside of the gym,” he said. “It is so cliché but we hear it all the time that abs are built in the kitchen. Nutrition is the most important thing. If someone is really eating bad all the time and they are doing HIIT training, it might be good for their cardiovascular health but in another way not.”
The 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee found that, in addition to disease prevention benefits, regular physical activity provides a variety of benefits that help individuals sleep better, feel better and perform daily tasks more efficiently. It also found that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity will immediately reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep, reduce anxiety symptoms and improve cognition on the day it’s performed.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity a week for a healthy adult to maintain or improve health.
Chance said HIIT-type exercise does not require a gym membership at all as it can be done at a person’s home or at a park. He notes that the city of Waxahachie Hike and Bike Trail is an excellent place to perform these types of exercises.
“There are some cool things that you can do when it comes to high-intensity interval training,” he said. “You could walk for 60 seconds on that trail and then sprint for 30 seconds. You can even set landmarks. I am going to walk from this landmark to this landmark and then I am going to sprint as fast as I can for 30 seconds.
“After I do that, I evaluate,” he said. “Did I get further on my landmarks in my 30 seconds of sprinting then I did last week? That is how you can track to see if you’re getting faster, less winded and less out of breath. The hike and bike trail is a great place to go because it has all of that stuff. It has got different ways of tracking and the different mile markers.”
Chance recommends doing this type of training with a friend who can help to keep you focused and provide encouragement and, in return, you can do the same for that person. He noted it’s important to go at your own pace and, if a person starts to have trouble, he or she needs to back down and get with a medical professional.