Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Little bit of a HIIT for a Tuesday morning

Unless you have been sleeping under a rock for the last 4 to 5 years, short, sharp and most importantly intense workouts have been scientifically proven to melt fat far more effectively than a conventional 45 minute steady state session on a chosen piece of cardio equipment. Don't get me wrong, the fact that an individual chooses to exercise is fantastic, but when I see people come into the gym and head straight for the cross trainer and upon asking them what their goal is with most replies being 'fat loss' it seriously grates me. This may be due to a lack of education (so hopefully they will all read this blog), or just the fear of leaving the comfort of a machine that lets you watch 65 channels...

A fantastic study from the Journal 'Metabolism' compared 20 weeks of aerobic training and only 15 weeks of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in which participants did 15 sprints for 30 seconds and lost NINE TIMES more bodyfat than the aerobic group.

The cross-trainer clan always tend to argue their case by referring to the about the amount of calories that they have 'burned' during their session. True, some energy has been expended whilst watching 'The Weakest Link' on BBC2 and it will go a tiny way to that bikini body that people crave. 

However it's not about the total calorie expenditure, take the study that I mentioned above, the energy cost of the aerobic group was 28,861 compared to the HIIT group 13,614, less than half! I'm definitely not a mathematician (B-grade GCSE) but by looking at these figures I can see why people question the whole HIIT theory. 

By performing HIIT not only does it raise Growth Hormone and Testosterone levels, which aid muscle growth, it also uses a scientific phenomenon called EPOC (or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption if we're being specific). EPOC causes an individual's metabolism to raise AFTER training, so the body is using more energy when it's actually at rest. Studies have shown EPOC to raise metabolism by as much as 38hrs post training.

Ok so there's the science and the reasoning behind it, now it's all about devising a workout. The type of exercise and intensity is crucial. HIIT is fantastic as it can be applied to such a broad range of exercises. Just ensure that the exercises are multi-joint so a high calorific demand is placed on the body. The clue is in the name HIGH INTENSITY interval training. So be prepared to sweat and to be pushed not just physically but mentally as well. However the beauty of this type of training is the short duration. As little as 160 seconds of work has shown to aid fat loss using the Tabata Protocol (more on this in a later blog). So HIIT is not only perfect for fatloss but it's also ideal for individuals who may be pressed for time. 

If you have a rowing machine and skipping rope to hand, try the workout below. This 'circuit' hits all major muscle groups and can be completed in a short period of time. Rest for one minute between each round. Keep the intensity HIGH. Including rest time and a comprehensive warm-up, this workout can be completed in 25 minutes. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

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