An overlooked concept that has been making the rounds again, HITT might just be the answer to your hunt for a new and different six pack workout. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and involves doing specific periods of high intensity, high cardio training coupled with lower levels of training. This system is different from your run-of-the-mill interval training in that the high intensity intensity are higher and the periods of rest are shorter than in regular interval training. It is entirely possible to complete an entire workout in about 10 minutes using HIIT.
Background of High Intensity Interval Training: Fartlek
No … it's not an impolite word. It simply means 'speed play' in Swedish. The first early examples of High Intensity Interval Training were developed in the mid 1930's by a running coach named Gosta Holmr. He was tired of seeing his cross country teams get beat all of the time, so he developed fartlek as a way to increase their speed and endurance. The beauty of his system is that over the decades it has proven to be highly adaptable to all types of sports, and it is similar to the quick bursts of activity that occurs in many sports. A version of it is also commonly used in Quantico Va. to train officer candidates for the Marine Corps.
The Science behind High Intensity Interval Training
As noted by S. Boucher (University of New South Whales, School of Medical Sciences) there have been numerous medical studies that seem to indicate that true HIIT training can not only result in a high degree of fat loss, but also improvements in aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and a significant decrease in insulin resistance, which is terrific news for anyone with diabetes. The effects on people with diabetes and people that are severely obese have shown promise in assisting them to normalize blood glucose levels and lose weight in an effective manner.
Why HIIT It
One of the many advantages of HIIT is that that takes a very short amount of time to complete a workout. Completing a HIIT workout in about 10 minutes or less is expected and reasonable, considering the level of physical activity. True HIIT training involves working to as close to 100% of your capacity as possible. If, for example you decide to use a treadmill or stationary bike, you would run as fast as possible for 10 seconds, and then lower your intensity to a mid level jog for 20 seconds. You would repeat this cycle for 4-6 sets for the entire workout.
Intensity is the key to this. It will cause extreme discomfort to be at this level of training-Most people use what's called the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. This scale is a self measure tool that works on how you feel while doing the exercise. It generally goes from 1-10, with 1 being the lowest level of exertion and 10 being "I feel like I'm dying" level. The hard core, high intensity level training sends your muscles into an anaerobic state requiring your entitlement body to work to complete the workout. This leads to additional fat burn that extends to periods long after the initial workout.
When Not to HIIT It
This high level high intensity can also be one of the drawbacks to doing a HIIT workout. If you have any under medical conditions, this workout should only be attempted if you've checked with and gotten the okay from your healthcare provider. Anyone with cardiac problems should probably not attempt it at all. This workout will place a great amount of stress on your cardio-vascular system. Your heartbeat will go as high as 170 during the intense phase and will not drop by much until after the session is complete. You will have difficulty breathing as well, even if you are in reasonably good shape.
How to HIIT It
For the standard HIIT workout you should warm up for about 3 minutes at about a level 2 or 3 intensity. You'll be at a pace that you could keep long term. Along with the walking warm-up you will want to do some light stretching for your legs to prevent hurting yourself.
For the actual exercise phase, you will increase the treadmill to as fast as you can go-an all out run. This will jolt your body's flight or fight response and will result in the increases in heartbeat and breathing mentioned earlier. After 10 seconds of all out running, slow to a moderate-fast walk or slow jog for 20 seconds. Repeat these steps-fast then slow 6-8 times. You will find that it will get increasingly more difficult to complete each set as you go. This is the way it's supposed to be. You may find that completing even a few of these is too intense-do as many as you can. Try to work up to a total of 8 sets of this for the entire workout.
After you have achieved this HIIT level, you can work on increasing the amount of time spent in the all out run phase. Gradually increase your run period to 15 seconds, with a 45 second 'rest' in between. Note that the recovery time is double the workout time. This is important as you increase or decrease times on your own. True HIIT training has a 1: 2 ratio of effort to rest.
HIIT should not be done more than every other day- you will not receive greater benefits by doing more, and in fact you open yourself up to overtraining and injuries if you do not allow your body to rest in between HIIT days.
Some people will decide at this point to go on to do more training-this is a good time to add in some resistance or weight exercises for your six pack workout to your routine as your body is primed for maximum workout results.
There are many different programs out there that offer all sorts of complicated routines for doing HIIT. There are even a few people selling specific and very expensive machines for these types of workouts. While each might have their advantages, I believe that the simple approach is the best. At it's beaten down best, HIIT is all about maximizing your workout in an efficient manner to get good results. You can do this workout with a treadmill, a stationary bike, a regular bike, or a stopwatch and your own two feet.