High-Intensity Interval Training

weight loss naples flYou may have heard of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT involves doing exercise at a high intensity for a specific period of time followed either by a period of rest or much lower level of intensity, then repeating the sequence. A typical HIIT workout might only last 15 to 20 minutes. HIIT has been shown to be extra helpful in promoting weight loss since, during HIIT, your body burns stored glycogen as a fuel source.

Traditional aerobic exercise involves doing a moderate level of intensity for a more prolonged period of time, which ends up burning stored fat. Most people assume that burning stored fat is what you want to do. But, by burning stored fat, you are sending a signal to your body that stored fat is what is required to fuel your exercise. So, you burn stored fat for your 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise then your body restocks the fat the remainder of the day so as to be ready for tomorrow’s workout. This metabolic fact may explain why so many people you see on the treadmill at the gym will look the same tomorrow, next week, next month and next year as they do today.

When you do HIIT and burn stored glycogen, the remainder of the day is spent with your body restocking its glycogen stores to be ready for tomorrow’s workout. How does the body accomplish this? One way is by converting stored fat into stored glycogen. So, instead of burning stored fat for 30 to 60 minutes and restocking it for the remaining 23 to 23.5 hours of the day, you end up burning stored fat for 23.75 hours (assuming you do a 15 minutes HIIT workout).

Another way is by converting dietary carbohydrate from sugars and starches into glycogen, which is a storage form of carbohydrate found in skeletal muscle. Carbohydrate intake would otherwise lead to blood sugar spikes and thus blood insulin spikes which decrease metabolism, increase appetite and lead to belly fat deposition. Thus, HIIT ends up decreasing blood sugar and blood insulin levels, boosting daily metabolism, decreasing appetite and decreasing belly fat. Also, since glycogen is found within skeletal muscle, HIIT ends up further developing skeletal muscle and helps promote that “lean, ripped” look so many of us crave.

There are several ways to design a HIIT workout. One way is by distance. You could walk from one street light to the next, then jog from that street light to the next, then sprint from that street light to the next, then repeat the sequence. Another way is by time. You could do high intensity for 30 to 60 seconds then rest or do lower intensity for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat the sequence. A final way is by intensity, best measured by heart rate (you obviously need a heart rate monitor to do HIIT this way).

You do high intensity to get your heart rate well above your target (144 for a person in their 40s, 136 for a person in their 50s, 128 for a person in their 60s and 120 for a person in their 70s) then do lower intensity until your heart rate falls back toward your target, then repeat the sequence. Please remember, before a HIIT (or any other) workout, do a warm-up for two to three minutes and do a cool-down for two to three minutes after the workout as well.

If you want to learn more about HIIT along with other exercise and dietary techniques helpful in weight loss and living the most healthy life possible, please contact our office at 239-676-3410.

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