Gain Maximum Bang For Your Exercising Buck Using Intervals
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful”. Hey, hold the phone!
While I don’t know too much about a delightful fire, I do know that most of the country is enjoying friendly, not frightful weather. So many of us are still able to get outside and stay fit doing the sports we love doing, which in my case is riding my bike.
But, these unseasonable temperatures can’t last too much longer, and then it will be time to attach my bike to the bike trainer in my living room to tap out some intervals in a workout style that’s become quite the rage lately.
I’m referring to ’interval’ training‘, or more specifically, one version of interval training called HIIT (high intensity interval training).
What’s All This ‘Intervals’ Talk About?
Interval training has been around for decades. Emil Zatopek, of Czechoslovakia, dominated the long distance events in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic games largely as the result of his horrifically difficult interval workouts. One of the original ‘tough guys’, Zatopek’s workouts were brutal affairs.
But take heart, you don’t have to pound yourself into the ground to gain benefits from high intensity intervals.
Alternating hard and easy efforts throughout a given workout will allow you to achieve fitness levels not possible by exercising at a constant effort. Additionally, the benefits in the area of weight management can be substantial using interval workouts.
There’s even a ‘Reader’s Digest’ version of intervals called HIIT.
HIIT…Short And Sweet
High Intensity Interval Training is a ‘doable’ form of interval training and the benefits of increased weight loss are very real using this type of workout.
The primary reason body fat melts away is because of the elevated metabolic rate that persists for hours after the workout is finished.
Without going too far without presenting an example, here’s a workout that can be done on an exercise bike, an elliptical machine, a treadmill, or any other setting that enables you to get your heart rate up.
Sample HIIT workout-
- Ten minutes easy effort to warmup.
- Ten minutes, alternating 10 seconds hard effort with 10 seconds easy effort.
- Ten minutes easy effort to warmdown.
You can see that there isn’t too much complexity in that example of HIIT. Various versions of this ‘hard-easy’ concept are easy to come up with for people who get bored with routine, and want some diversity in their workout regiment.
My Personal Experience With Weight Loss And Intervals
When my competitive running career concluded back in the 1980’s, I continued running for fitness pretty regularly. I even added cycling into the mix for some variety. But over the course of several years my weight slowly crept up. I don’t mean anything dramatic, but it was enough for me to notice…and not like too much.
It wasn’t until my kids started running competitively that I ‘rediscovered’ intervals, and benefited from them. In order to increase their fitness level for races I had them doing intense hill repeats (6-10 repetitions of very hard efforts up a one minute hill).
I felt a bit guilty about putting my kids through that kind of pain, so in order to appease my conscience I joined them. And here’s what I noticed…my metabolism kept pounding for hours after I got home.
And the weight started to drop. Not only was I burning calories during the workout, but the increased metabolism while sitting on my butt at home contributed some ‘free’ weight-loss time.
That’s how I rediscovered intervals and benefited from them in a new way. Previously, they were good for winning races, now they’re a valuable tool for maintaining my weight.
Get On Board The HIIT Train
Maybe you’ve been hearing about this ‘HIIT’. It may sound mysterious and new, but it’s a concept that’s been around for years. Like a lot of health related issues (think chicken soup for colds), science has caught up with an exercise style that’s been helping athletes for decades.
Now it’s time for you to get on board and benefit from this ‘hard-easy’ exercise format. You’ll gain a level of fitness previously beyond your reach, and you’ll add a valuable weight maintenance tool to your arsenal as well.
About the Author: Dr. Ron Fritzke is a Chiropractor in Mount Shasta, California, where in addition to his private practice he’s part of the sports medicine team at the College of the Siskiyous. After concluding his competitive running career at the 1984 Olympic marathon trials, he began cycling as his principle means of staying fit. He currently spends a lot of time reviewing cycling equipment; writing everything from bicycle trainer reviews to instructions on what to look for when shopping for bike shorts.