Taking the HIIT for Weight Control and Better Health
by Marcia Simon
The logical way to lose weight is to keep your mouth shut. But if you love to eat and need an efficient way to burn those extra calories, high intensity interval training (HIIT) seems like a good approach.
HIIT alternates intense bursts of activity with short periods that allow your heart rate to slow down, and theoretically it burns more calories than a straight cardio workout, according to AFAA Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Weight Loss Specialist Donna Scott, who works as manager of Essex Wellness Center’s Fitness on the Water in Westbrook and Essex, CT.
“Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, is the time following exercise during which the body restores itself,” explains Scott. “It’s based on how hard you push yourself during the workout. For interval training, the EPOC is usually about 15 percent higher than with other exercises. The more oxygen you consume, the more calories you burn.”
One type of HIIT class is “Tabata Training” named for Japanese professor Dr. Izumi Tabata who developed his own method to train Olympic speed skaters in the late 1990s. Some places use a variation of this and call it boot camp. The method consists of multiple rounds of exercise, like a short set of push-ups or jump rope followed by a shorter period of rest. You go through a circuit of about eight varied activities, and repeat the circuit multiple times over 45 minutes or an hour. It’s that all-out burst of intense energy that gets your heart rate up for the calorie burn.
Interval training is structured to work every muscle group in the body, and your muscles need time to recover. So either take a day off or alternate exercise days with Pilates, yoga or a moderate bicycle ride as part of a cross training program.
It’s easy to develop an interval training routine you can do at home using soup cans as small weights. Or structure your program with fast-slow bicycle circuits or walk-sprint intervals.
Whether you prefer the energy of a group class or the flexibility to work out on your own, high intensity interval training improves cardiovascular health, it revs your metabolism throughout the day and helps to boost energy and endorphin levels to fight depression. If you’re out of shape or prone to injury, always check with a healthcare professional before starting a new or unsupervised exercise program.
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