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Get Started with HIIT

How it works starting a HIIT workout.

Getting Started with HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

Interval training means alternating between intensity levels. You generally alternate between low and medium to high intensity. High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short, leaves no room for anything less than your maximum effort.

But what is your maximum effort?

Maximum effort can be measured a number of ways. One simple method is to first identify your maximum heart rate. There are charts that you can use which take other elements into consideration, however you can also find a general range by subtracting your age from 220.

For example, if you’re 40 years old then your maximum heart rate should be 180 beats per minute. With HIIT the goal is to hit about 95% of your maximum heart rate. Continuing with the example of a 40 year old person then 95% of 180 is 171 beats per minute.

Now a normal resting heart rate is generally around 60 beats per minute. So if you’re almost tripling the heart rate then you can image what it feels like. The good news is that this intensity level only lasts for a minute or less.Then you get to rest.

The maximum heart rate method is only effective if you’re performing a cardio workout and if you have a heart rate monitor. If you’re training in sit-ups or pushups then your heart rate doesn’t apply. Instead, you’re performing the movement as fast as you can until your time is up. In twenty seconds you might get 20 sit-ups or 15 pushups if you’re very well trained. In subsequent rounds the number of sit-ups or pushups is likely to decrease as your body fatigues.

So you can use heart rate to estimate intensity. You can also perform a maximum number of reps in a specific amount of time, 20 seconds for example. You can also estimate your intensity level by simply exercising as hard as you can for the duration.

Here’s an interesting tidbit for you, in studies, women tend to be better able to work out at a higher intensity for a short duration than men, based on measurements of their cardiac output and VO2 Max.

Warm Up Before Getting Started with HIIT

It’s important to identify a means for measuring your effort. There’s no right or wrong method and the method you choose may very well depend on the type of HIIT program you choose. Before we talk about creating your HIIT program, let’s discuss the importance of warming up before you work out.

HIIT isn’t something you just get up off of the couch and do. Warming up is essential for proper form, recovery, and to prevent injuries. Your warm up will depend on your chosen program. For example, if you’re going to do a squat Tabata then you might warm up by jogging a quarter mile and then performing 20-30 slow and deep squats. You want to thoroughly warm up the muscles that you’re going to be using.

If you’re going to do a rowing HIIT workout then you might row a slow 250-meter row followed by 20 squats. Then you’d row a medium intensity 250-meter row followed by 10 squats. You’d finish it up with a hard 250 meters at about 75-80% of your maximum effort. Then it’d be time to begin your workout. Your muscles would likely be sufficiently warm.

Skipping this step can result in injury. Remember, when you’re warming up you’re not just warming up your leg or arm muscles. You’re also warming up your heart and lungs and preparing them for your workout. Work out for at least three minutes before any HIIT workout and make sure you feel mentally and physically ready to begin.

Creating Your HIIT Program

High Intensity Interval Training isn’t something you do every day. Most experts recommend performing this type of workout just three times a week. There are different approaches depending on your fitness level, your current fitness program, and whether you’re starting a new fitness program or integrating HIIT into your existing program.

HIIT for Beginners

If you’re new to exercise and fitness or beginning a new fitness program, then you may want to begin with just one HIIT workout each week. You can then gradually increase the number of workouts depending on how your body is feeling.

For example, let’s say you decide that you’re going to start running. Generally, you’ll probably run three to four times each week. One of those weekly workouts would be a HIIT workout. The others would be running for time or distance at a moderate or low intensity level.

What you’ll find with this type of approach is that your running fitness progresses more quickly. Someone who is beginning a running program and doesn’t include a HIIT workout or two each week will not likely reach their running goals as quickly. With HIIT you might hit your goal of being able to run a 5k at eight-minute mile pace in a few months. It might take another beginner runner a full year or more to reach this milestone.

Sticking with running for a minute, in addition to performing a HIIT running workout, you can also perform other strength training workouts for runners. Lunges, squats, and box jumps are all exceptional workouts to consider. You can do these in Tabata format, which is 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest. The work rounds are repeated eight times, which equates to four very intense minutes of exercise.

Integrating HIIT into Your Existing Fitness Program

If you’ve been working out for a while and you have reached a plateau in either your fitness or weight loss, then HIIT can help. Without changing your movements, you can integrate a Tabata or interval type plan into your existing program.

Let’s take cycling as an example. If you’re an avid cyclist, either stationary or on the road, you might ride as hard and fast as you can for 20 or 30 seconds. Decrease the resistance on your bike and increase your repetitions to increase the intensity. You should feel like you can’t possibly continue. If you have a heart rate monitor then go ahead and shoot for that 90-95% of your maximum heart rte.

Remaining on your bike, you’ll then ride at a slower intensity for 90 seconds. You should be able to regain your relaxed breathing by the end of those 90 seconds. Kick it back into gear and ride at a high intensity for another 30 seconds. Recover and repeat. You’re done when you’ve repeated the cycle 8 times.

Whether you run, cycle, row or you love the elliptical at the gym, you can easily apply HIIT to your existing fitness program.

However, you may want to mix it up to stay motivated, engaged, and to strengthen the foundation movements for any given exercise. For example, in order to run faster and longer you need strong hip and gluteal muscles. Squats and lunges are two of the best exercises for improving the strength of those muscles. You can integrate a squat Tabata into your regular fitness routine.

You might run at a moderate pace and distance for three days. One day you perform interval runs and one day each week you do a Tabata squat routine. You’ll undoubtedly notice the difference in your strength and speed after just a few weeks of HIIT.

If you’re not interested in starting a regular fitness program, but would rather try a wide variety of exercise routines, consider creating your own HIIT program.

For example, on Monday you might run 400-meter sprints followed by a rest that is exactly as long as it took you to run 400 meters. If it takes you two minutes to run 400 meters, then you rest for exactly two minutes before running another 400. The next day you might perform a sit-up Tabata followed by a pull-up Tabata on the third day. You’d then take two days off.

On your first day back you might do a push-up Tabata followed by a rowing workout and so on. If you take this approach you’ll probably want to plan your week’s workouts in advance so you don’t have to try and figure out what you’re going to do each day.

Remember to warm up before you work out and to cool down too. The cool down may be as simple as walking for a quarter mile. Let your heart rate and breathing return to normal.
We’ve talked a lot about the different approaches to High Intensity Interval training. Let’s take a look at a few different sample training programs. You can use these programs as they’re written or to help you design your own.

Sample Treadmill HIIT Program

Warm up before you start.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Run for 30 seconds at 90-95% your maximum heart rate or as fast and hard as you can run. Rest for 30 seconds. Stop the treadmill and stand or sit. Repeat this process 10 times. If you’re new to HIIT you might rest for 60 or even 90 seconds between each 30-second run.

Tuesday – Rest day.

Thursday – Spot focus. Tabata sit-ups or Tabata push-ups. 20 seconds maximum effort, 10 second rest repeated for eight cycles.

Saturday – Spot focus. Tabata push-ups, squats, or jump rope.

Sunday – Rest day.

The Treadmill HIIT can be changed to be a stationary cycle, elliptical, or rowing machine.

Sample Strength Training HIIT Program

Warm up before you start.

Monday – With a heavy dumbbell in each hand, for example 40 pounds, perform 20 lunges on each side. Rest for three minutes between each round and then repeat four times.

Tuesday – Squat Tabata (you can also back squat, front squat, or overhead squat with a heavy bar 20 reps with a 3 minute rest in between each round). Repeat five times.

Wednesday – Rest day.

Thursday – Rest day.

Friday – 20 seconds of burpees followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for eight cycles.

Saturday – Pull-ups or push-ups Tabata.

Sunday – Deadlift 20 reps followed by a 250-meter row (or run or cycle). Repeat 5 times.

As you can see, any exercise or fitness program can be easily adapted to include HIIT workouts. Whether you hula-hoop, prefer endurance exercise, or enjoy the gym fitness equipment you can get better results by including a few High Intensity Interval Training workouts each week. Before you get started with HIIT, let’s take a look at “Tips for HIIT Success” for some final tips to help you achieve a positive outcome.

How HIIT Works

Learn how HIIT works then go do it.

Want to Know Why and How HIIT Works?

Chances are your fitness program is primarily cardiovascular. You may walk, run, row, dance or bike. Perhaps you spend most of your time on an elliptical machine, spin bike, or stair stepper.

If you integrate a bit of strength training into your current fitness program then you may have a very well rounded program. And yet you are likely not getting the weight loss and fitness goals you desire. You’re putting in the time and the work but not enjoying the results you truly want.

HIIT can be the game changer, the difference maker, and the solution you’ve been searching for. Here we’ll show you how HIIT works and why it really does produce faster weight loss and fitness results in less time. But don’t take our word for it; let’s take a look at the research and the reason why High Intensity Interval Training is so effective.

Dramatic Fat Burning Results

HIIT has been shown to promote Human Growth Hormone release. This wonderful hormone is a natural one that your body produces. However, as you age the amount of growth hormone decreases. After all, you’re not growing anymore. If you exercise and your muscles and tissues need repair, then HGH is released to help your body repair itself.

When released, HGH also boosts metabolism, burns fat and facilitates muscle building. It also changes the way your body uses and converts energy. Your body does this because it knows you need fuel to repair your muscles and tissues.

The Journal of Obesity reported on a study that showed significant fat burning results after 12 weeks of HIIT. The study focused on young overweight male. They were randomly assigned to a control group or a HIIT group. The HIIT group spent 20 minutes exercising three times a week for 12 weeks.

The majority of the 20 minutes was rest and recovery – between short bursts of intense exercise. And by intense exercise it means that you’re getting up to 95% of your maximum heart rate. The results may surprise you.

The study participants had a reduction of total fat mass that averaged 4.5 pounds. They reduced their visceral fat, the fat under your skin, by 17%. They also showed marked aerobic improvements and their aerobic power increased by 15%.

Some other studies, particularly one published in the journal, Cell Metabolism, seem to indicate that HIIT changes your DNA expression; specifically the genes that are involved in fat metabolism. The study indicates that when you use HIIT as part of your training program, your body automatically turns on the genes that increase your production of lipolytic enzymes, aka fat busting enzymes.

How HIIT Works for Insulin Sensitivity

Diabetes occurs when the insulin receptors become desensitized. It can happen when a person has a diet that is often high in glucose, sugar. The presence of glucose triggers the pancreas to release insulin. However, after a prolonged period of this constant signaling to release insulin, your body begins to shut down those insulin receptors.

When this happens, fat storage is increased because the glucose cannot be processed correctly. So a person with a diet that is often high in sugar – like most Americans – begins to gain weight and take steps toward pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

HIIT has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. It makes those insulin receptors work again so your body processes glucose effectively. You don’t store fat, you burn it.

One study looked at volunteers with diagnosed Type 2 diabetes. They performed one interval training session and saw improved blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours. Other studies have shown that middle-aged adults who are fit but inactive were able to enjoy improvements in their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation after just two weeks of interval training.

Increased weight loss, fat burning, and insulin sensitivity are all spectacular results. However, you may already be at your target weight and not at risk for Type 2 Diabetes. So what are the benefits for you? Can you get better, faster, and stronger with HIIT? You bet you can.

Aerobic Capacity, Endurance, and Strength

High Intensity Interval Training has shown that it provides improved health and fitness for all. A team of Canadian researchers tested a wide variety of men and women at various stages of health – from healthy to fighting cardiovascular disease. The participants performed cycling intervals. All patients showed significant improvements in their health and fitness.

Surprisingly, the cardiac patients showed great improvements and the intense exercise didn’t cause problems for any of the patients.

According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training – Shape Magazine

If you’re training for a race or you want to get over a fitness plateau then HIIT may be the ideal program for you. One study found that after eight weeks of doing HIIT workouts, participants could exercise twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.

We’ve already mentioned a few of the compelling benefits for integrating HIIT into your current fitness program. Namely, they’re:

  • HIIT burns a ton of calories
  • More efficient, and shorter, workouts
  • Enjoy faster results
  • Boost metabolism
  • Increased fat burning

However, there are other benefits we’ve yet to discuss. They include:

  • You don’t need any equipment to participate in HIIT.
  • It’s applicable to just about any workout. From running to weight lifting, you can add HIIT to your program and enjoy results.
  • You continue burning calories and fat long after your workout is over.
  • It’s seriously challenging, so you won’t get bored.
  • It’s quite fun and easy to add to your weekly routine.

So you’ve read the data and you know the facts. You know that if you want to burn fat and get in shape fast then High Intensity Intervals are for you. But how do you get started? Let’s take a look at “Getting Started with High Intensity Interval Training” next and take a look at a few sample HIIT fitness plans.

Fitness Rope Training

You have a few choices when it comes to fitness rope training.

Benefits of Fitness Rope Training

The biggest benefit to rope training is to increase your strength, improve your endurance and your power. You will find that after training with heavy ropes you will be quicker, stronger and more agile. Which is one of the reasons why is that when pro athletes use this form of training they notice a huge difference when it comes to game time!

The other huge benefit of rope training is that you will notice a difference in your aerobic capacity. Rope training incorporates cardiovascular training with high intensity training by combing intense short sessions which are repeated several times. This is a great exercise to help improve your lungs ability to take in more air. If you have lung problems consult with a doctor before attempting this type of exercise and get their advice on how best to start off.

Fitness rope training is a full body workout and incorporates your entire trunk. There is no need to have to perform more exercises afterwards. It really is one piece of equipment that targets your whole body from head to toe.

As well rope training is just plain fun, it is the perfect exercise to take up if you are bored with your regular routine. Training with ropes is perfect for beginners to pro athletes and for anyone regardless of age. It is simply a matter of adjusting the length and weight of the rope to suit each person. This makes rope training perfect for a family fun filled exercise routine.

The nice thing about this type of training is that you can adapt it to suit your needs. If you have trouble standing you can easily kneel down or sit on a stability ball. For more advanced moves try squatting or lunging as you control the ropes. Plus don’t forget that you can use your heavy rope for climbing or pulling movements.

Fitness Rope Choices

When buying a fitness rope you want to take a few things into consideration. There is more to buying a rope than meets the eye and first off you need to realize that there are different types of rope.

  • One of the best rope choices is one made from premium double braided nylon. With a double braided rope you essentially have two ropes in one, with one being braided over the top of the other. This type of rope is very strong, durable and soft and comfortable on your hands. They are a nice heavy rope that will not shed making them great for indoor or outdoor use. The only downside to this type of rope is its price. They tend to be on the expensive side but don’t forget they will last for many years.
  • The Manila rope is probably the one that you are more familiar with. This type of rope resembles the ropes you would have used at school! A Manila rope is a tough rope that is great for taking the kind of abuse rope training can place on it. This type of rope is also more affordable making it the number one reason why many people start off with this one. It is important to note that a Manila rope may tend to shed and is recommended for using outside and it can be a little rough on your hands. Take these points into consideration before making your final buying decision.
  • A middle of the road rope would be one that is made from polyester and polypropylene fibers. This type of rope is very strong and durable. It is also much softer than a Manila rope and does not shed so can be used both indoors and outside. Ropes made from polyester tend to be lighter making them a good choice for beginners, seniors and children. Price wise they are right in the middle between the cheaper Manila ropes and the more expensive double braided ropes.

If you purchase a rope specifically made for rope training then it will normally have handles or covered ends on it. If you purchase a length of rope from your hardware store it will have rough edges on the ends. If you know what you are doing, the polyester and nylon ropes can be cut clean on the end and then sealed with a flame. A simple knot at the end will also stop your rope from fraying loose.

When selecting your rope try to pick a rope that is not too heavy for you but one that still has a thickness of 1.5 to 2 inches. The most popular length is 50 feet but 25 foot ropes are still long enough for you to get a great workout with. Some people prefer to purchase a longer length of rope and then tie knots in it. As your ability increases you can easily make the rope longer by untying the knots. As length increases, so does the intensity of strength to move it.

Fitness Rope Training Summary

Rope training goes by many names and you may see this type of training advertised as:

  • Undulating training
  • Power training
  • Battle Rope training
  • Rope training exercises
  • Fitness ropes

Just remember that they all mean the same thing and would possibly have exercises with different names. Whether you are looking for something to add to your exercise routine or are just in the mood to try something new rope training may be your perfect choice. Your only cost is that of the length and type of rope and you are ready to go.

It is quite easy to find videos online that will instruct you on the basic movements of rope training exercises. Or you can purchase rope training DVD’s where you can follow along.You can train by yourself, with a partner or make it a family activity.

Heck you can even invite your neighbors over and have a friendly tug of war game in your backyard. But, hint, hint, do it after you’ve done your rope training for two to three months first so that you’re ready to kick-butt and impress.

To help you get started right, be sure to read the article titled “Rope Training – for Fitness Nuts and Newbie’s Alike” found at http://myfitnessnut.com/rope-training-for-fitness to give you other important details not found in the article above.

Also to get a jump start on bodybuilding, go to http://MyFitnessNut.com and get a free subscription of the My Fitness Nut Newsletter for up to date tips and bodybuilding resources that the whole family can use to get fit and stay fit for life.