It seems as though there is a new exercise fad coming out each week. You may remember the Gazelle, Toning Shoes, the Ab Rocker, and my personal favorite, the Shake Weight.
According to greatist.com Americans spend over $30 billion a year on weight loss products, most of which do not work.
Since most of these products are completely useless you may be wondering what the secret to weight loss is. Are you ready for it? The secret formula to losing weight is…
EXERCISE + PROPER NUTRITION + A LOT OF HARD WORK + DISCIPLINE
Sorry to burst your bubble but there is no “easy fix” when it comes to losing weight or getting healthier. There is no pill, product, or shoe that is going to help you lose weight or get healthier. It takes hard work, proper nutrition, discipline and a good exercise program.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training (also known as HIIT) is another recent fitness trend. HIIT is a form of interval training that involves short bursts of maximum intensity exercise followed by intervals of lower intensity exercise.
Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons to high intensity interval training. HIIT takes less time and offers greater variety than steady-state cardiovascular exercise. No equipment is needed and it can be done anywhere. It also can help preserve muscle mass and increase your metabolism after you are done. HIIT can be done virtually anywhere with little to no equipment making it an inexpensive form of exercise. HIIT can help you increase your fitness and lose weight. One major problem with HIIT is that some people who try it do not reach the level of intensity needed to see the benefits. What they perceive as “all-out” is not the intensity needed to see results.
- It takes less time
- It offers greater variety
- It increases your metabolism after exercise
- No equipment is needed
- Preserves muscle mass when losing weight
- Can be done anywhere
- Requires all out effort
The Tabata Protocol is one example of HIIT training. The Tabata Protocol begins with a 5-10 minute warm up. It is then followed by 20 seconds of all-out intensity activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.
Spark People also has a sample progressive HIIT program on their website.
Again, this program stresses short bursts of all-out intensity activity followed by a period of lower intensity activity or rest.
Play it Safe
The most important thing to note about HIIT is to make sure you are exercising safely. If you are brand new to exercise HIIT is not for you. It is something that you need to ease into. You’ll likely end up injuring yourself or completing exercises incorrectly. I can’t stress enough how important it is to gradually build up your workout program to HIIT. You should also make sure you are always doing some sort of a warm-up and cool-down.
I’ll admit if you’re not familiar with proper exercise it can be confusing to know what you should incorporate into your workout program. There is so much information available; some good, some bad. You’ll hear about “fat burning zones” and what your ideal workout zone should be etc. etc. etc. The most important exercise tip you need? Get off the couch and move!
Seriously! Any exercise is better than none in my opinion. I think the most important thing is to find something you enjoy and won’t burn out on. As someone who loves working out I’ve learned how important variety is in a workout program. The right amount of variety can keep you motivated, help you see results, and improve your overall health and fitness.
Find a Balance
It’s also important to note that HIIT is just ONE part of a well-rounded workout program. Depending on what your goals are (weight loss, run a 10k, run a marathon etc.) you may want to incorporate HIIT into your workout plan 1-2 days a week. Weight training, other aerobic exercise and stretching are also important for a well-rounded workout plan. Everyone is different so it’s important to find a workout program that you enjoy, one that works for you, and, most importantly, one you will stick with. I found a quote by Jack LaLanne that pretty much sums up how I feel about exercise.
I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline.
Have you tried HIIT? If so, what’s your favorite HIIT workout you’ve done?