The current recommendation for healthy adults is to perform at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) 5 days per week or for more vigorous exercise, then at least 3 days per week is recommended. As an alternative to MICT, the concept of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts has recently skyrocketed in popularity.
What is HIIT?
HIIT workouts involve exercise at high exertional levels, from 80-95% of your max heart rate for short bursts followed by a recovery period that is usually 40-50% of maximal HR. The period of higher exertion can be varied in duration, and can even be sustained for several minutes if your fitness level allows.
There are also multiple studies now showing that HIIT is more than just optimizing calories burned during your workout. HIIT workouts have been shown improve insulin sensitivity, allowing more efficient use of glucose by the muscles. There are also notable improvements in cholesterol levels and blood pressure with HIIT in line with what is seen with MICT.
How Do I Do HIIT?
HIIT is also easily applied to most people’s favorite current aerobic activities. Whether it’s biking, hiking, running, or using any of the widely available fitness machines, including elliptical and stair masters, heart rates can easily be tracked with technology available today, and the HIIT concept applied to the workout.
What Do I Recommend?
Overall, HIIT appears to be a promising way to maximize the gains of most any exercise program. It is easily incorporated into current exercise routines using readily available HR monitor technology. I would try to start by performing one HIIT session per week, incorporated in your normal exercise routine. As you progress, you can add more HIIT days during the week, and increase the duration of the high exertional periods as your fitness level improves. The personal trainers at the Village are well versed in HIIT, and can help work with you by designing a program that fits your needs.