First off, Let me state that I think High Intensity Interval Training or HIT is actually a very good tool for losing weight and to burn fat, as a change-up to steady, lower intensity cardio workouts. HIT kicks your metabolism up a notch, keeps it there and can burn your body into a fat burning furnace.
That said, the concern for me is whether or not it is the best way, or even a smart option for beginners to use.
Let’s get on the same sheet of music first and define a beginner. A beginner for me is somebody who has less than three months training (or even 6 months for some). A beginner is not just an person who’s out of shape, by no means been in shape, or tend not to even know what shape is. A beginner is somebody who’s structurally weak, or underdeveloped, inside and out.
For example, the leg muscle consists of some 26 muscle groups from foot to groin. You’ll discover some 17 muscle groups inside the hip joint area that also includes the glutes. For the beginner they’re all weak or undeveloped.
Here’s the challenge – when a beginner starts a walk-jog-run program, it is the larger muscle groups that engage and strengthen initially. None of the weaker, supporting muscle really come into play until the bigger muscles weaken or tire. That’s as it ought to be – to my untrained, and not fitness certified eye.
HIT short circuits all that.
But again, before we go any further, let’s speak briefly about HIT for those new to this.
HIT is as just as it sounds. It is high intensity physical exercise carried out at intervals. You go “all out” and exert “max effort” for a brief time span. Let’s say that brief time span is 30 seconds, just to pick a number out of the air. You then either rest or do actually low intensity workout for 30 seconds or 60 seconds. That’s 1 set. You repeat for 8 or 10 occasions.
Straightforward, is it not.
In theory, you could use this method on any given physical exercise, be it upper body, lower body, running, cycling, boxing, etc. In practice, I think it works best with sprints.
Let me explain.
As I see it; you have got to go from 0 to 100mph in 1 second. That eliminates all weight lifting exercises, stepper exercises, rowing machines, and so on. Lifting by definition is impossible put out max effort on the very first 1st rep and each single rep for 30 seconds. The initial segment of the lifting will always be easier than the last segment.
Rowing machines and steppers just do not to respond quickly enough or adequately enough. Stationary bikes are the exception. You can go 0 to 100mph in 1 second but sprints are superior, as I will discuss shortly.
Hitting a heavy bag is doable but your arm muscles, frontal delts, pecs to a degree, and your abs are not the main movers like your legs and hips are.
And cycling on the road is just not practical to my mind. After cycling like a madman for 30 to 45 seconds, your legs will be entirely shot, lungs heaving, and gasping for each and every single ounce of oxygen in the atmosphere – how do you remain on your bike, let alone repeat the cycle? And where do you come across a stretch of road with length sufficient to do a full 10 sets without being run over by a truck?
Sprints work given that you can find a location to sprint all out for 30 or 45 seconds. You do it at park, at your nearby school track, an empty street or a parking lot. Sprints work given that that you can go from 0 to max in 1 seconds and keep going. Beyond your legs, gluts, and hips; you also pump your arms like crazy, unlike say on a stationary bike. You indirectly work your core muscles, your shoulders, your arms, and even your cheek muscles (on your face).
At the end of the sprint, your lungs will be on fire and you’d rather collapse than continue walking or trotting the rest portion of the set. You ought to have depleted everything you have. Sounds great, right – it better, since you need to repeat this cycle 8 or 10 times. Still sounding great? Somebody wrote that the next day, your legs will be tired. Your legs will likely be much more than just tired.
HIT’s value is that you will continue to burn calories effectively, in fact, well after the session is over. Contrast that to the more traditional aerobic workouts where your calorie burning generally stops after your slow, steady cardio session ends.
So, then HIT ought to be the method to go to, correct. You burn calories continuously and it sounds like the whole session only takes 10 to 15 minutes to completely.
Not so fast, hold on…
For an individual who has been training or was an athlete at one point, HIT may be an outstanding alternative. But for a beginner, I contend a beginner’s body is just not prepared to cope with the tension and “pain” of performing HIT. In reality, a beginner is substantially more likely to injure herself inside the 1st training session than anything else.
Go back to the quantity of muscles inside the legs and hips. Now add all of the core and upper physique muscles that get recruited into this all out sprint, and you have a great deal of potentially weak muscles pushed to maximum exertion with no notice. You have a situation ripe for pulled and strained muscles.
Once that occurs, all progress goes to not just no progress, but reverse progress.
Even on a stationary bike, you call forth all of the secondary leg muscles that usually aren’t worked too much to maximum exertion. It holds the precise same potential for injury.
Losing weight and burning fat shouldn’t have to involve courting injury just to burn some more calories. And as Lyle McDonald observed, HIT positive aspects appear to drop after three weeks or so, whereas slow, steady cardio just keeps moving on; not unlike the turtle that just plows forward.
I have performed interval training since my 110yd dash days on the high school track team and on the football team. I did my time with heavy bag in the Army. I can attest to how effective interval training has been in getting me into shape. I can also attest to the pulled muscles and injuries.
The competition we have now is with ourselves. And while any training session is potential dangerous and open to injury; we need to minimize it as much as we can, especially when there are other options available.
For beginner, HIT is not the best cardio option for burning fat.
Unless you genuinely feel you able to, then by all means, give it a go.