Saturday, November 24, 2007

High Intensity Interval Training

Now that the big feast is over, many people turn to exercise to try and burn off those extra calories. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) is one way to rev up your metabolism and get aerobic benefit in short bursts of time.

HIT is repeated sessions of relatively brief, intermittent exercise that is done with "all out" effort. A single HIT can last from a few seconds to several minutes, followed by a few minutes of rest or just movement. This basic concept is advantageous because it can be applied to almost any level of initial fitness. There is no need to maintain a certain heart rate or speed.

Even though the time of the exercise is small, a few brief sessions of intervals can benefit you as much as prolonged periods of continuous moderate exercise. You can do HIT every other day and reduce the training time.

The good news about HIT is that it dispels the myths that you must reach a "fat burning zone" that only occurs after the first 30 minutes. With HIT the energy expenditure continues even during the rest cycles and studies have shown that only seven sessions of high-intensity
interval training over two weeks increased fat burning during exercise by more than 30%.

Here is an example of a HIT program for a beginner:
  • Warm up: five minutes of walking at 3.5 mph
  • Speed up and walk at 4.0 mph for 60 seconds
  • Slow down and stroll at 3.0 mph for 75 seconds
  • Repeat steps 2 & 3 five more times
  • Finish with 5 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace to cool down.
For the advanced athlete you can substitute running or cycling at all 80-90% of out effort for 60 seconds. Slow down to 30% of effort and repeat as above.

HIT is not better than traditional endurance exercise, but as an alternative or just a way to start exercising when you have been putting it off, it can get the metabolism and muscle strength going.
(Summarized from Martin Gibala, Phd, McMaster University, Ontario Canada)


Jonathan said...

Way back when, running cross country as a high school athlete, we practiced a form of intensity training called a fartlek, which moves one from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state and then back, pretty much continuously during our long afternoon runs.

To this day, varying the intensity of a run is the best way I know of to improve or to regain my level of conditioning.

For more on fartlek, a Swedish invention, see of course:

Joshua said...

The chap is completely right, and there's no skepticism.
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