If there is one thing that most Americans have in common, it is a lack of time. Commuting, working, kids, chores, homework, cooking, sleeping – it is amazing what you are able to squeeze into a 24-hour period. But when time is at a premium, the first thing trimmed from your schedule is, all too often, physical activity.
Many people do not view physical activity as a necessity, but simply as something they should be doing. The primary reason physical activity is not deemed a necessity, like sleep or holding down a job, is the seemingly long hours it takes to observe desirable results. Without sleep, you cannot function on multiple levels. Without a job, you don’t have money to, well, “buy stuff.” The time dedicated to these activities makes sense because the end-results are easily observed.
Participation in physical activity, for most, is not just about being healthy because health is difficult to “see” and, anyone who says they workout – exclusively for good health – is just being modest. Dedication to physical activity is about results – looking good, feeling good, tight muscles, strength, a slim waistline and smaller clothes. You can jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes each day and lift the bar on a few machines as you stare haphazardly around the gym and back at your reflection in the mirror, realizing for all your time and effort, you don’t look or feel your very best.
So, where do you find the time to fit in physical activity that benefits your health and makes you look “hot and sexy” all at the same time? High-intensity interval training or HIIT or burst training – whatever you want to call it – it drives results, real results, really fast.
High-intensity interval training is an exercise methodology that incorporates alternating periods of vigorous movement, like sprinting, with periods of slower movements, like jogging, walking or even lifting weights. There are several reasons this methodology works so well.
- Time. More results in less time. Alternating an hour of resistance training three times a week and trying to fit in cardiovascular activity three to five times per week can cut into your schedule. It can be difficult to carve out an hour and a half to participate in both disciplines to develop an effective routine. A 2008 study, uncovered that with interval training, you don’t have to spend much more than 20 minutes a day to achieve the same results as hours of cardiovascular and resistance training combined. During the study, subjects were required to give “all-out” effort at 100 percent of their maximum heart rate, followed by one minute of easy recovery, repeated 10 times. After six weeks, the physiological changes in the subjects were equal to hour-long sessions of steady cycling – the same results in 90 percent less time.
- Results. High-intensity interval training drives results because it shocks your body. You push yourself as hard and as fast as you can in one instant and slow back down in another. Studies have shown that this type of training lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone that causes nasty fat accumulation) and improves secretion of hormones that inhibit fat storage and trim body fat. Researchers have also realized that high-intensity interval training offers post-exercise benefits, such as increased energy expenditure and fat burning, for up to 24 hours.
- Health. Routine interval training is shown to reduce the risk of disease and improve function of the body, including and especially the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Short bursts of high-intensity interval training has been proven significantly beneficial for most individuals, compared to moderate physical activity at longer time frames.
Although high-intensity interval training is highly effective, you will achieve the most optimal results when the activity is combined with a balanced diet and consistency of each. If you are not achieving results – something is missing. If you have found a steady, continuous exercise routine that is working for you, there is no reason to give it up. The key to fitness and achieving real results is to find a plan that works for you.
High-intensity activity can be strenuous on the body. Ease into your efforts and consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. Certain individuals may be adversely at-risk, initially upon participating in high-intensity activities.