Almost three years ago I was at a fitness conference and attended a session that introduced me to the exciting world of HIIT, specifically Tabata training. I took a class by fitness guru Mindy Mylrea where she spoke on the podium explaining what Tabata training was, why it worked, and how she was going to lead us in a workout. It intrigued me, excited me, and spoke to me. Better, faster, stronger! I love the high I get in a crazy hard workout. This intense form of training has revolutionized the industry to say the least.
I have heard lectures, read articles, and seen more research coming out that advises participants to be very careful of the over training that can easily result from high intensity interval training. When your body experiences stress of any kind; think deadlines at work, getting ready to host a party (a good stress, but unfortunately your body can not differentiate between the good or bad), tossing and turning in bed, or doing burpees in your training, your nervous system goes into something called fight or flight. If your body is constantly experiencing stress, whether at work or home, or even in your training regimen, it will go into protection mode. If you are getting too lean, working at high intensities to often, or eating a low-calorie diet, your body will actually hold onto fat! If you feel like you are doing everything right; eating lean and clean, working out like a maniac, and hitting the hay early, but still have that little pot belly or an couple of pounds to lose-it may be time to change up the training.
I have been called the “hard” trainer. My workouts have evolved over the years into intense sessions with inspiring and gritty music! The harder I made my classes, the more people flooded them. (glutens for punishment I guess!) However, we must remember that an effective workout does not always have to be accompanied by dripping sweat, foggy mirrors, and jumping as high as the guy next to you. In my personal training sessions I typically try to take my clients through a journey of metabolic training. We do not do HIIT for the entire session, but rather attempt to focus on volume (strength), power (HIIT), and some oxidative fat burning (steady cardio). This taps into all three energy systems that must be utilized to be considered a balanced training regimen. These energy systems can be tapped into within one workout, or throughout the week.
As people, we gravitate toward others that we are similar to. Habitude Fitness followers are a hard-working people that value excellence. We like to put in the hard work, and no pain, no gain is badge we often wear. I am officially telling you, that is bull. Knowing this is one thing, but living it is another. That is often my issue-knowing but not always doing.
In regards to our training, it is not more, more, more, but rather different, different, different, that will help you to be in balance and yes-even shed those last 5-10 pounds that is hiding your beautifully toned and strong muscles. HIIT should really only be done 1-2 times per week and for no more than 30 minutes as you shouldn’t be able to last that long! If you are participating in an hour-long HIIT session, be sure to include a 5-10 minute warmup, a cool down, and take plenty of recoveries after your bouts of HIIT. We love HIIT because it is fun and we feel powerful, but we also love it because of its effects long after our workout. 20-40 minutes of HIIT training is ideal for me, and I like to take breaks incorporating core work, functional strength training, and stretching. Long steady state cardio days are key to fat burning, and taking part in at least 2 days a week of strength training is a must. Balance is the goal.
Less intensity does not mean less results. Your body is like a thermostat and has perhaps gotten used to how you operate. If you change things up, and constantly keep it guessing, you will indeed lose pounds and continue to gain strength and power. This is true no matter if you are a dedicated fitness junkie, or a novice; change is good.
Stress is a nasty thing, but we cannot avoid it. It’s in how we deal with it that will make all of the difference in our health. Make sure you are eating enough, and eating the right kinds of food at the right times. Be sure to get enough sleep, rest, and recovery. If you struggle with this, do some research on how you can get better at it. As always, resource your doctor if you are tired, fatigued, depressed, restless, or injured. Be sure to vary your training. Even if you love the endorphin highs you receive from HIIT, Cross Fit, and boot camps, be sure that your intensity levels are appropriate for your fitness level today, and that you are changing throughout the workout and/or throughout the week. Not only will you yield better results, but you will refrain from nasty injuries. Include work on body weight exercises, range of motion, and balance maneuvers-be fit all the way around! Lastly, and I know you, let’s go easy on ourselves.
Live life fully!