Is High Intensity Interval Training the Best Way to Go?

A lot of people are promoting high intensity interval training (HIIT) now-a-days. Does that mean you’re just wasting your time by doing old-fashioned activities like walking, biking and swimming? You tend to think so, when you listen to others going gaga over their regimen. So what if you want to lose 20 lbs fat and get ripped abs? Is interval training the best way to go? Well, you’re just about to find out.

Is High Intensity Interval Training the Best Way to Go?

First of all, what do we mean by interval training? It’s a form of training where you put maximum effort for certain duration of time interspersed with rest periods and repeat it. For example, a Tabata interval, also known as the 4-minute fat burning workout, is a training regimen where you exercise for 20 seconds with 10-second rest periods and repeat that for four minutes. There’s a bunch of other interval training programs that go by different names based on the duration of exercise and rest periods.

Now, as far as the type of exercise goes, it can vary. Typically, it’s running, but it can also be cycling, climbing/running stairs, doing squats or burpees, anything that engages the whole body done with intervals. Let’s have a look at four great benefits of interval training:

Benefit #1: It burns more calories in less time (most people get really excited about this).

Benefit #2: It can improve your acceleration.

Benefit #3: It can improve your speed.

Benefit #4: It can increase your endurance.

Most of the people just stop at the first benefit due to the fact that it burns off more calories in less time, and go ‘Voila… ‘. But the curious thing is, if interval training burns off more calories in less time, why is it that all the large healthcare organizations recommend ‘walking’ for losing weight instead of ‘interval training’? Ever wondered why? Well, it’s because there is more to a good workout, than just the calories you burn per unit time.

An endurance athlete has opined from his first-hand experience:

“For cycling endurance, nothing beats Time in the Saddle.”

Interval training is an important part of both aerobic and anaerobic endurance development training but it’s not sufficient in itself as there are two problems with interval training:

Problem #1: There’s a high potential for injury, especially if you’re overweight or under-trained.

Problem #2: It’s still unclear whether four minutes of Tabata training gives you the same benefit in terms of heart conditioning as the 20 minutes of brisk walking that the American Heart Association recommends.

If you’re still convinced that you want to continue with interval training to lose weight and get six pack abs, let me give you four tips that can help you to maximize your chances of success:

Tip#1: If you’re overweight and out of shape, go see a doctor first. High intensity training can be really tough on the system and you wouldn’t want to find out the hard way that your health is in strife.

Tip #2: Ramp it up slowly. Don’t go out there and do an hour of wind sprints first time around.

Tip #3: Don’t do the same thing on consecutive days, you don’t want to get overuse injuries.

Tip #4: If your body fat is more than 15% (which it probably is, if you’re doing this because you want to get rid of your fat quickly), do not perform high impact activities. So, avoid running, climbing/running stairs or doing burpees. Do something easy if you’re overweight and want to do intervals. The best one can be stationary biking or a spinning class; it can let you do the intervals without putting undue stress on your hips, knees and ankles.

Choosing the correct path for redemption is a crucial part of life and more so in the case of health. So, give it a good thought, before you take the big leap into the world of high intensity training.

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He's a self proclaimed fitness advocate who devotes a majority of his free time catching up with the latest fitness trends in the wellness industry (when he’s not traveling the world!). He aims to curate results-driven content through his hands-on life & fitness experiences to power your health goals.

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