Many of you have probably heard the buzz about High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.
First of all, what is HIIT?
It is a type of training or getting your exercise that has you going all out for several seconds, followed by a much lower effort, again for several seconds. Then you repeat that cycle several times. The length of time for each of those kinds of efforts can vary quite a bit, depending on which protocol you are using. Mostly this type of training is referring to aerobic exercise that you might be getting on a bike, treadmill, or running/jogging.
So, this is HIIT. There are numerous health benefits to it, and it is a great way to increase your fitness. To be specific, you get improvements in cardiovascular health markers, glucose tolerance, and insulin resistance.
One truly appealing attraction is that a HIIT workout takes a lot less time than longer, steady, continuous exercise. Many people find the prospect of a shorter workout much more motivating and easier to fit into a busy schedule.
HIIT and Strength Training
HIIT is almost always referred to in the context of aerobic training. But, what if we wanted to apply the same principle to a strength training workout? Would you be able to save time and get better results?
That is what is happening in vigorous strength training infused with vigorous bursts of cardio as seen in circuit training, boot camp, or high intensity sessions of calisthenics.
It turns out that those types of training often give you many of the same benefits that HIIT does that are mentioned above. There are only slight differences because of the way your muscles are being used, and the effect that has on your circulation.
But, here’s the thing. Straight up cardiovascular training of long duration or HIIT do not give you certain benefits that strength training gives you. Those would be improvements in building lean muscle tissue and bone mass. Circuit training, boot camp, or high intensity sessions of calisthenics would give you those benefits.
Both of these benefits are nothing to sneeze at, particularly as we start to get older and start to lose muscle mass and bone.
Here’s the problem that you have probably already been saying to yourself. “What if I don’t want to go all out?”
What You Can Do
I have a suggestion for you that can help you bump up your aerobic training on days when you are lifting weights, and you do not have enough time to do any cardiovascular activity.
Let’s say you lift weights or do the machines at a gym. Or, you lift weights at home. Let’s also say that your routine consists of 12-20 different exercises. IN BETWEEN EVERY THREE OR FOUR EXERCISES, do an exercise called “Mountain Climbers”. See below for how to do this. I have given you three variations for you to choose from depending on your level of comfort with the exercise.
Place your forearms on a chair or bench. Anchor the chair against a wall for stability. Place your feet far enough away from you so that your body is in as straight a line as possible. Bend one knee towards your chest and tap your toe on the floor. Return that leg to the back, and then do the same with the other leg. Alternate this pattern, keeping your breathing steady (i.e., don’t hold your breath) for up to 40 toe taps, each side. Take a break and go back to your strength training.
To make it easier: Place your forearms on a high counter or table. Do the toe taps while in this position.
To make it harder: Find a mat, get in push-up position with arms extended. Do the alternating toe taps while holding this position.
NOTE: All three of these exercises will also work your core, an extra bonus that you will probably be able to feel.
ANOTHER NOTE: There are many variations for this exercise. If these don’t work for you, or you would like some other suggestions, feel free to contact me by email.
Try it! Saves time, gives your workout a nice boost, and gives you aerobic and strength training benefits. It does not have to be a big HIIT, but a manageable one that you can work into your existing routine.
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