With summer behind us and fitness tests done, it’s time for us to move into our new season challenge.
Many of you will be familiar with the principles of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) but I thought I’d take the time to explain the science behind it, and some tips on how to get the most out of it.
First off – what is it?
Essentially, HIIT is a combination of brief very high intensity bursts of cardio exercise followed by equal periods of rest. According to research published by UNSW, it can outperform traditional cardio when it comes to fat loss because it increases your body’s levels of growth hormones and can increase fat burning and energy expenditure for hours after exercise.*
The key to HIIT is to push your heart rate up above 80% of its maximum. Without a heart rate monitor, this is obviously hard to measure but basically – if you’re really sucking in the breaths after pushing yourself, you’ve probably hit your target. And don’t worry – you know we’ll keep motivating you to go your hardest!
So what should you be thinking about during the session? I’d recommend to focus on three key things. Technique, Breathing and Intensity. Let’s drill down into why…
HIIT incorporates a range of exercises using equipment such as dumbbells, kettle bells and medicine balls as well a combination of body weight exercises such as squats, tricep dips and push ups.
It’s really important that these exercises are done with the correct technique to avoid muscular injuries so make sure you listen to the trainers when they are explaining each station.
Here’s a hint for when you’re doing kettle bell swings – it’s all about your butt, not your arms! When you’re swinging down, think about trying to close the car door with your backside because your hands are full. That’s the movement that drives the kettle bell momentum and makes sure you’re getting the most out of it!
Another thing to really think about when you’re doing the session is to get your breathing rhythm in line with the exercise. This will mean your lungs are full when you need them to be and your muscles will use oxygen efficiently. It also gives you something to focus on whilst you’re pushing yourself at each station.
For example - if we’re doing push ups, it’s important to remember to inhale whilst going down and then exhale while going up. For sit ups, it’s the same – inhale as you lay back and exhale as you sit up. As a basic rule exhale when you are exerting energy.
Not only will focusing on your breathing make sure you get the most out of this HIIT challenge, it’ll also make the time pass quicker, I promise!
This will be the biggest thing you’ll hear from us during the challenge. HIIT only works if you really dig in and deliver during the session so it’s important you push yourself during the cardio period and suck in the deeps ones during the rest period.
If you can feel your heart rate elevated and feel like you’ve pushed through to fatigue, then you can walk away knowing you’ve got the most out of this challenge.
I wrote about this in my last article Breaking Through the Barriers, and I suggest reading it again for some tips on how to maintain your intensity throughout the program. Get that mantra sorted and remind yourself of how to really push through mentally when your arms start to burn and your legs are turning to jelly.
We can’t wait to see you down there on Monday as we approach this new season challenge.
Fitness… it’s a habit.
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* High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss, Stephen H. Boutcher https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639/