Day 13. Maximize Your Exercise
The Science Behind High Intensity Interval Training, Metabolic Health, and Weight Loss
It’s no secret that exercise is important for weight loss, overall health, and managing diabetes. But are some types of exercises more helpful than others?
New research suggests that it is. Recent studies show more and more evidence that High Intensity Interval Training is one of the most beneficial ways to exercise.
High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) is a type of exercise that focuses on short bursts of intense activity. Each intense “interval” is broken up with longer periods of moderate activity. For example, a beginner to HIIT might run as hard as they could for 15-30 seconds, then jog or walk for 1-2 minutes. Or you may do as many pushups as you can for 15 seconds, then give yourself a minute to rest.
Why HIIT Matters
HIIT gives you the following benefits:
• Changes in intensity increase your heart rate more efficiently, improving your cardiovascular health
• Better blood flow to the brain, which improves your thinking and decreases depression
• Carbohydrates are used more quickly for energy, reducing insulin levels both while you’re exercising and for the next 24-48 hours
• It doesn’t require equipment - you can exercise in intervals using only your own body weight anywhere, any time
• It burns calories efficiently, helping you lose more weight in less time.
The Science Behind HIIT
The studies are in, and they have good news: those endless hours of non-stop cardio may not be the most effective way to lose weight and grow healthier. While running, swimming, and other forms of cardiovascular exercise are definitely beneficial, simply getting on a treadmill for an hour isn’t your best bet. Instead, you’ll be doing your body a favor by limiting yourself to 20 minutes of high intensity interval training.
A 2011 paper published in the Journal of Obesity highlights the numerous benefits of high intensity exercise. It revealed that HIIT might be more effective at reducing abdominal fat and cellulite than any other type of exercise. It also outlined how HIIT causes adaptations in your skeletal system that lead to an improved response to both insulin and glucose, reducing your risk of (or helping you better manage) diabetes. And perhaps most importantly, the research suggested that HIIT not only helps your body burn calories while active, but also increases calorie burning while at rest, even hours after exercising.1
You’ll get all this without having to spend more than 20 minutes working out.
Make it Happen
HIIT is one of the most efficient and effective ways to exercise out there. That’s why it’s such an important part of the GetFit21 Challenge. We’ve created a 21 day body weight exercise routine that uses the principles of HIIT to get you the results you want.
Are you ready to see the difference that HIIT can make? Are you willing to commit to following your HIIT workout plan for the rest of this challenge?
The Challenge: Follow our 21 day fitness program to work HIIT into your routine four days a week. Spend the other three days at “active rest.”
Committing to 21 days of HIIT will help you lose weight, improve your metabolic health, grow stronger, and feel better. It can transform your life - it’s up to you to make it happen.
Your Next Steps
1. Choose a Time to Work Out: You’re much more likely to follow through on your exercise commitment if you set aside a time to workout every day. Pick a time where you know you will be free from distractions (and excuses). Early in the morning works well if you tend to feel worn out at the end of the day. Maybe the kids take a nap at a consistent time - take that time out for you and your health. Put some thought into your decision, then follow through.
2. Understand What You’re Getting Into: HIIT is tough. It’s designed to wear you out. You will probably feel tired the next day, and maybe a bit sore. That’s okay. Nothing in life worth achieving comes without some sacrifice. And it’s also why our program is set up the way it is. By giving you days of active rest in between, you can give your body a chance to recover while still keeping on track.
3. Accept Where You Are: You may find that you’re unable to complete your HIIT rou- tine as instructed. That’s okay. We all have to start somewhere. If at any point you find yourself in pain beyond that of a mild exercise “burn”, dial it back a bit. Maybe you shorten your interval period, maybe you take a little longer to rest, or maybe you swap out a certain exercise for a dif- ferent one that works out the same part of your body. Pay attention to how your body responds to HIIT, and make the choices that ensure you continue to make progress towards your goals.
1 Boutcher, S. H. (2011). High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity, 868305. http://doi.org/10.1155/2011/868305
4. Challenge Yourself: As you work through your 21 Day Challenge, your ability to follow through on your HIIT workout will improve. When you start to realize your workout is feeling easier than it used to, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Maybe you add five seconds to your interval. Maybe you subtract fifteen seconds from your rest time. Maybe you do the circuit as described, but you go through it an additional time. The only way to keep improving is to keep challenging yourself, so don’t be afraid to add a little intensity.
Think Long Term
HIIT will be just as valuable to you after your 21 Day Challenge is over. Use these tips to keep the momentum (and your progress) going for the long term.
• Stay aware of your body. The more physically capable you become, the more tempting it may be to push your body beyond what it can do. Recklessness can lead to injury, which will stall your progress. Fight the urge to push yourself past your limits. Slow down, dial back, or take a short break if your body is asking for it
• Switch it up. One of the many benefits of HIIT is that its principles can be used in a variety of situations. If you find that you’re growing bored of your current routine, mix it up by doing intervals of another kind. If you’ve been doing bodyweight intervals, you may want to give walking or running a try. If your running routine is growing stale, maybe it’s time to hop on the bike you have in the back of the garage. Keep it fresh and you’ll keep growing healthier.
• Track your progress. If you keep doing HIIT for a year, your body and abilities will transform completely. Keep a log of your workouts to track the types of exercises you’ve been doing as well as their duration. Tracking your progress as you change will help you see how far you’ve come and motivate you to keep going further.