Enhance Your Health

Health Tip of the Week: HIIT Workout

Do you want to flatten your belly and lose weight?  It may be time to rethink your exercise program.  The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness recently published a study that shed light on the best way to flatten your stomach.  No, it’s not stopping eating (though that’s a help), but a way to exercise your overall body.

In this study which took place over 8 weeks, participants were divided into two groups.  The first group exercised 4 days per week doing typical strength training with weights and resistance machines and performing a cardio aerobic workout such as jogging, biking etc.

The second group worked out 4 days per week.  Two of the days were typical strength training with weights and resistance machines and a cardio aerobic workout such as jogging, biking etc. The other two days the workouts were High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T).  HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of hard work followed by a short rest period then repeated.

HIIT workouts can be applied to all aspects of fitness training.  A HIIT can be performed with a weightlifting workout, calisthenics or an aerobic workout such as biking, running or swimming.

Even better a HIIT workout can be a combination of all three.  For example a person could do a set of weights for 20 -30 seconds, take a few breaths and drop to the floor and do 20 sit-ups, rest and then do jumping jacks or jog for 30 seconds, then repeat the sequence over and over again.

It's all about the intensity, the short bursts of activity followed by a short recovery period (rest).  A beginner starting out with HIIT would do 20, 30, or 40 seconds of straight exercise followed by a rest period that would be twice as long as the exercise (40, 60 or 80 seconds recovery).

After a few weeks the workout would progress to a 1 to 1 type program, meaning 20-30 seconds of straight exercise followed by 20-30 seconds of rest.

Another version of HIIT is a Japanese exercise program called Tabata.  This is the style that I use in my workouts.  20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest then repeat until program is finished.  HIIT workouts typically last about 30-45 minutes.

Back to the study results.  The HIIT group lost more overall weight and inches to their waistline then the control group.  In addition, they significantly reduced their level of visceral fat (belly fat) then the control group.  The HIIT group also showed major increases in cardio respiratory fitness, much more so than the control group.

The best benefit though is by pushing the body with intense, short bursts of exercise metabolic levels are raised and the body continues to burn more calories throughout the day, even at rest!!

The study further states that if four HIIT workouts per week were performed as opposed to two, gains would even be more dramatic.

I have added a new recommendation to my list to help you keep your lungs strong.  Deep breathing exercises. On a daily basis, sit down in a chair with your hands on your lap. Breath in deeply as far as you can through your nose, hold for one second and breathe out through your mouth until your lungs are completely empty. Repeat 10 times. Rest and breathe normally for 20-30 seconds and then repeat with another 10 deep breaths. Perform three to five sets of ten deep breathes.

Once finished, sit and relax for a minute or two before standing (to avoid lightheadedness).  For the spiritual and meditative among us, in between breaths you can say short prayers or positive affirmations to help you connect your mind, body and spirit.


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