Keeping Fit With Interval Training

HIITWondering which fitness program works the best for you? Experts have long since recommended a judicious combination of aerobic exercises and strength training to achieve maximum levels of fitness and health. Most world health bodies recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (this work out should be strenuous enough to break out into a sweat, but you should be able to talk while exercising) five days per week, or 20 minutes of more vigorous activity three days per week.

The latest buzz is on High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. This, as the name suggests is repetitive bouts of high intensity workouts followed by recovery phase or low intensity activity.

HIIT is believed to have these effects:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Improved insulin sensitivity (which means muscle cells take in more glucose, thereby reducing blood glucose levels)
  • Improved cholesterol profiles
  • Reduced abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.

Since the bouts of intense workouts alternate with recovery phase, much more calories are burnt in a shorter time than compared to a regular aerobic exercise. This is due to the increased amounts of oxygen consumed after the high intensity workout, which translates into higher calorie expenditure.   Close to 15% more calories are burnt because of the increased oxygen consumption up to 2 hours after the work out.

You could design your own HIIT based on the exercise you prefer.  For example, you could use a running – walking combination to design your own HIIT. To do this, you would have to use the talk test as your guide. Duringthe high intensity workout you should be able to converse with difficulty. This intensity should be 80 % of your estimated maximum heart rate.  For example, if your maximum heart rate is 175 (to measure maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220), you should be exercising at 80% of 175 which is 140. The intensity of the recovery interval should be 40-50% of your estimate maximal heart rate. This would be a physical activity that is at a comfortable level, in order to help you recover and prepare for your next work interval.

This whole high and low intensity phases are repeated over a duration of 25 to 30 minutes. The ratio of high to low intensity is of significance. For example, a ratio of 1:1 might be a 3-minute hard work (or high intensity) bout followed by a 3-minute recovery (or low intensity) bout. These 1:1 interval workouts often range about 3, 4, or 5 minutes followed by an equal time in recovery.  Or it could be a very high intensity bout of 30 seconds, followed by 4 minutes of recovery.

To help you sustain these fitness workouts, a balanced diet with 15 to 20% proteins, 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates a day and 15 to 25 grams of healthy fats a day is a must. This balance is achieved in every meal that you choose at Calorie Care. Go ahead; add the right kind of fuel to the fire of your workouts!