HIIT-ing your goals

·3 min read

Cardiovascular conditioning is a major component of overall health and cannot be understated – and that goes double for when we are talking about COVID, vaccines, extended periods of sedentary behaviour and the life we’re hoping to live on the other side of the pandemic

Keeping your heart healthy is really, really important. Like any other muscle, it must be trained in a manner that is appropriate, and it must be done regularly.

I often get questions about HIIT training and how it can complement regular cardiovascular training, or if one can replace the other. Both are valid notions, but if you’re being smart about it, you can combine both into one really efficient cardio workout.

How’s that, you ask?

Well, say you’re going out on a light jog for 20 minutes. While you’re jogging along, consider sprinting as fast as you can for 10 seconds every 2 minutes. Or, if time becomes a constraint, consider doing a pre-determined sprint just for a predetermined distance.

After your 10 seconds of sprinting is complete, bring your jogging pace back down to whatever speed you are comfortable proceeding at for another couple of minutes, ten try another short sprint.

This does two things; first, it gets your body’s cardiovascular system used to working at a higher level, so that your heart is ready, willing and able to support you in whatever you ask of your body and second, it brings your baseline heart rate higher so that your body is perceiving one level of exertion, while actually getting accustomed to another. Your baseline heart rate will rise and your body will burn more calories with the same level of exertion. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to burn calories?

This concept can apply across the board to almost any exercise activity you can conceive of. For instance, a 45-minute walk with five minutes of staggered power-walking throughout the walk will have the same effect of raising the baseline heart rate and maintaining a higher metabolic rate (which refers to your body’s ability to burn calories). It can apply to cycling, skateboarding or any other cardiovascular activity you enjoy.

If you like walking on your hands to the grocery store, you can install three sprint intervals of hand-walking and you’ll get a more efficient workout than you would if you maintained just one speed. Doesn’t matter how fast you go; just go a little faster and concentrate on that.

Sometimes, it’s just fun to head out and sweat without much of a plan. In those cases, try and think of your fitness routine as a roller coaster. The speed can come and go down, but it should always be changing, and that’s the beauty of HIIT training. It sounds complicated but it’s not. In the fitness business, we have way of making things sometimes more confusing than they have to be. Raise your heart rate. Bring it back down. That’s the point. Now, go have fun!

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase