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HIIT or Miss

Jul 26, 2011 04:39PM ● By Anonymous

We have since traded skintight spandex for comfortable cotton…and the latest trend to improve physical fitness is not aerobic but rather anaerobic exercise—a main focus of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

When the oxygen supply to the muscles is reduced for an extended period of time, lactic acid is produced (causing those painful cramps). If the acid builds faster than it can be cleared by the flow of oxygen, the muscle is pushed to the point of exhaustion and cannot continue to work. Working to the point of muscle failure determines the anaerobic, or lactate, threshold, an excellent measure of physical fitness.

The anaerobic threshold can be significantly heightened through HIIT, which employs bursts of anaerobic exercise alternating with periods of low-intensity exertion to improve muscular efficiency. HIIT workouts are brief, usually lasting no longer than 20 minutes; but don’t be fooled. These sessions result in total exhaustion; each minute should feel like an hour. Sprinting is the best exercise to utilize HIIT, but any form of workout using large muscle groups can be done as well. It is advised to consult with a personal trainer before beginning any HIIT program—they can recommend a workout of appropriate intensity based on your physical ability. A beginner’s effort may include six to eight sets consisting of a 30-second, all-out sprint followed by 90 seconds at a slow to moderate pace. More advanced workouts may either decrease the duration of the recovery pace or increase the duration of the sprinting pace.

Going to the gym is hard enough already—why in the world should you subject your muscles to such cruel and unusual punishment? Although guaranteed to produce sweat and maybe tears, HIIT also results in rapid weight loss—as much as two pounds per week…when done correctly.

Warming up is not optional, and sessions should be limited to every other day. Because HIIT pushes the body to the breaking point, at least 48 hours is necessary to recover and, therefore, necessary to progress.

A personal trainer in Arnold recommends HIIT once or twice a week. “If you do it more often, you’ll wear yourself out,” he cautions.

It is important to assess your level of fitness before starting a high-intensity program and consider beginning with a lighter routine. “I’d recommend [HIIT] to someone who is already in good physical shape,” says a Severna Park personal trainer. “Probably someone who is younger and can adapt to the intensity.”