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High Intensity Interval Training pays off well - but is it for everyone?

Interval training is a great way to exercise. Nobody disputes that.

And high intensity interval training (HIIT) burns even more calories, and increases the Afterburn Effect which causes you to continue burning more calories throughout the day due to a heightened metabolism.

However HIIT is not for everyone. Especially people who are elderly, out of shape / overweight, have injuries (eg. knee injuries).

Which is why I have introduced Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT) and Moderate Intensity Interval Training (MIIT) as options for my personal training clients. Why? Because on a regular basis the people who actually want to hire a personal trainer are in one of these categories:

Elderly
Overweight / out of shape
Suffering from an injury (eg. knee)

And being told by a personal trainer that you can't do a specific workout becomes a whole Catch-22 scenario. In your head you think you can't lose weight / become fit without doing that high intensity workout. Except you can do the workout - but you need to do it a lower intensity: low intensity or moderate intensity. Especially if you have an injury you need to work around.

It is true that High-intensity interval training (HIIT) offers a bigger payoff from our workouts in less time. But if you can't physically DO the workout due to age, fitness level or injury then you need to do the next best thing.

HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) improves your current fitness level in short sessions, working to increase your metabolism and cutting your workout sessions to a fraction of the time. The goal is to alternate high-intensity bursts of exercise with periods of low-intensity exercise, or active rest.

So for example... Sprinting for 45 seconds, jogging for 45 seconds, repeated 10 times. Total time is 15 minutes and that would be a High Intensity Interval Training you could do at home / in your neighbourhood.

However sprinting / jogging for 15 minutes is a very intense workout. Many people wouldn't even be able to do the first 3 sprints without wanting to stop and rest for 5 minutes.

So a more moderate high workout may be called for.

Sprinting 30 seconds, jogging 30 seconds, walking 30 seconds, repeated 10 times. Total time is 15 minutes. That workout is more doable, but may still be beyond the reach of many people who are out of shape.

One of the goals of HIIT requires you to raise your heart rate up to 85% or more of its maximum capacity. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply that by .85 (85 percent) and you have your target heart rate.

So for example I am 34 years old. 220 - 34 = 186, x 0.85 = 158.

So if I want to worry about my heart rate I will need a heart monitor on my wrist so I can track how high my heart rate goes.

However I don't believe heart rate monitors are for everyone. While it may help some people to gauge how hard they are exercising and forces them to exercise harder, I think that for people who are overweight / elderly that this is a potentially dangerous practice that could lead to heart attacks (or heart attack like events).

The goal of HIIT (possibly combined by using a heart rate monitor) is to ensure that you burn maximum calories during your workout, as well as maximum calories in the hours following. However burning maximum calories should not involve risking your health and life to do so. Most HIIT workouts last about 15 to 30 minutes.

Thus there is definitely a need for different levels of workouts...

Moderate High Intensity Interval Training (MHIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 70 to 80%
You will still have difficulty talking during this level of workout because you will be breathing so hard.
eg. A running MHIIT would involve a mix of sprinting, jogging and perhaps even some walking.
Aim to workout for 20 to 30 minutes.

Moderate Intensity Interval Training (MIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 60 to 70%
You will be able to talk easier during this kind of workout, but conversations will be dragged out.
eg. A running MIIT would involve a small amount of sprinting, be mostly jogging and some walking.
Aim to workout for 25 to 35 minutes.

Moderate Low Intensity Interval Training (MLIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 50 to 60%
You will be able to talk most of the time.
eg. A running MLIIT would involve intervals of jogging and walking.
Aim to workout for 30 to 40 minutes.

Low Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)

Target Heart Rate is 40 to 50%
Talking will be easy during this kind of workout.
eg. A running LIIT would involve intervals of jogging and resting.
Aim to workout for 35 to 45 minutes.

If a particular workout gets too easy for you and you aren't experiencing any pain / discomfort, try a higher level of intensity. Don't try to deliberately hurt yourself, but do try to challenge yourself as your fitness level progresses.

It is advised that elderly people with heart problems (eg. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the right) jog with a partner in case they develop any complications during their workout. When in doubt stick to a lower pace workout and avoid over-taxing your heart. (And yes, that was a pun on British taxes.)

The more intense the workout the more oxygen you consume. This increase in oxygen, in turn, increases your post-exercise metabolism - and results in you burning extra calories for anywhere from 90 minutes to 24 hours after the workout is finished. The higher intensity the workout the more benefits you see in terms of fat loss, increased oxygen consumption and improved anaerobic capacity benefits in less time.

While Interval Training is usually used for cardiovascular workouts to improve endurance, it can also be used in sport-specific workouts or weightlifting sessions.

You don’t have to be in amazing shape to add Interval Training to your workouts. Choose your intensity based on your fitness level. When in doubt start low and build your endurance / strength slowly.

You should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially High Intensity Interval Training. If your doctor says you’re healthy enough to engage in HIIT then go ahead and try it. If your doctor advises restraint then you would be better off starting off with low or moderate intensity workouts and then progress slowly.


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