I remember when I was growing up numerous coaches used to tell us to go for long and steady runs during our off season. What happened when we had our first game and had to sprint? We were absolutely fried after just one sprint. I remember the last time I felt like this was when I was in grade 12 and on the provincial team. Playing wasn't enjoyable as I was lacking in game specific fitness and I was just focusing on making it through the game.
In addition to this, I used to do what many people still do and focused on burning a specific number of calories and in a relatively slow and steady way. How were my results? Pathetic. My body fat was at my all time high and I always felt lethargic when I played soccer. I decided to eliminate the long and steady cardio and replaced it with HIIT. How were my results when I did this? 100 times better and right away.
Unfortunately, many people can't get over the very incorrect mindset that long and steady cardio is the most effective way to lose fat. Also, many people do not like to push themselves or leave their comfort zone so they stick with what is easier, but at the expense of their results.
What is HIIT?
HIIT involves higher intensity intervals that are combined with lower intensity ''rest'' intervals. As your fitness improves, you can make the workouts more challenging by doing one or all of the following:
1) > the intensity of the work intervals
2) > the length of the work intervals
3) Decrease length of the rest intervals
4) > the overall length of workout
Why is HIIT more beneficial than long and steady cardio?
- Produces WAY higher gains in fitness
- Takes far less time to complete
- WAY more post exercise euphoria
- You burn way more calories in a far shorter amount of time
- You continue to burn calories post session, for up to 24 hours. = WAY more fat loss
- It is far less monotonous
Where can you do HIIT?
HIIT can be done on any piece of cardio equipment or outdoors
Who can do HIIT?
Anyone can do HIIT. Obviously when you are a beginner you should proceed with caution and be progressive.
All athletes who play sports that involve sprinting should be performing HIIT. This will enable them to sprint, recover, and sprint again. When athletes are unfit, the mental part of the game is hugely compromised as tired athletes do not make decisions as well as fitter athletes. This in huge part is why teams focus on fitness as decision making AND the physical part of the game are both integral elements. Regular people can also benefit from enhanced decision making/thinking. It is a proven fact that being physically fit greatly enhances decision making, thinking, and overall productivity. Good luck being at your very best in the workplace or in everyday life when you can't even go up a flight of stairs without being winded. HIIT will help.
What are my HIIT workouts like?
I do my workouts either on the soccer field, on the elliptical, spin bike, treadmill, or occasionally the rowing machine
I typically do anywhere from 10-30 minute sessions, 3-4 days per week, and both my work and rest intervals are between 10-30 seconds in length. This is a 1:1 work to rest ratio. When I am done, my heart rate is close to 100% of my max. My workouts are VERY intense and keep me close to ''match fit'' year round, even when I am not playing.
I track my fitness gains based on how quickly my heart rate drops after 1 minute post exercise. This is called the Heart Rate Reserve. You calculate it by subtracting your heart rate 1 minute post exercise from your max heart rate and divide it by 10.
For example, my heart rate at the end of today's HIIT workout was 204 BPM (105% of my max). One minute later it was 136.
204-136= 68/10 = 6.8
Push yourself, it is well worth it. Good luck!!