HIIT me up

Anonymous wrote:

Sean,

Should I do HIIT training?  My trainer is all about it, but I am new to this gym thing and don’t really know if it’s a solid way to lose weight.  I am basically looking to lose weight for a wedding in a few months, so I had just been doing cardio classes, but my trainer is recommending HIIT.  Looking at it online, I see things both ways.  What’s up with that?

Anonymous

 

Not this kind of hit...though he's justified..

Not this kind of hit…though he’s justified..

Anonymous,

You’re right, it does go both ways, but look at the two audiences and you’ll see that each viewpoint is because of a certain lifestyle.

Marathon/endurance athletes don’t usually want extra muscle on their bodies, so gaining muscle tone and overall strength is not a priority which makes HIIT fall outside of their agenda.  To these athletes, cortisol is actually helping them by decreasing their muscle size and increasing fat stores so they can use it as fuel for their races/events. However, there are non-endurance running types that want all of the health benefits (muscle building, fat loss, good health) that would greatly benefit from HIIT, and for good reason.

There are many studies confirming HIIT as the most effective weight loss exercise type.  In fact, it’s what I’m now doing for my workouts and I’ve been seeing great results.  I’d recommend giving it a try and letting me know what you think.  For the non-endurance types, studies show HIIT is better for the long term, doesn’t stimulate cortisol production like steady-state (long distance) cardio, and that it still allows muscles to make size and strength gains while the body is still losing fat.

Let’s take a look at HIIT as a whole.  Yes, the workouts are shorter, but your body is working harder than the person running (or ellipticalling…is that a word?…next to you).  Unlike cardio-heavy and bodybuilding workouts, HIIT strays away from the moderate heart rate, steady-state cardio and has the person working at 90% of their max heart rate with periods of muscle building in between cardio bursts.  If you’re looking for a chiseled physique and didn’t see it above, you should know that too much long distance running actually stimulates cortisol production in the body and can reverse the progress your muscles are making by shrinking muscle tissue by using it for your body’s fuel, increasing abdominal fat (if you’re not burning enough of it), and compromising immune function.  HIIT has been shown to increase fat oxidization within the body and as an added bonus, you also burn more AFTER your workout due to the intense work your muscles have had to endure during the workout. .  This doesn’t mean you can go eat Old Country Buffet every time you finish at the gym though.  Proper diet AND exercise are always necessary for losing weight.

The downside?  HIIT is wonderfully draining.  When I do the workouts, I am completely drained for at least a day afterward.  This will change over time, but every time I step things up a level, the fatigue will start again.  HIIT can also be harder on your joints initially and that can increase recovery time needed after the workout.

There are a TON of good HIIT workouts on Bodybuilding.com and other sites.  I am guessing your trainer will also have some good ideas as well.  Again, the choice is up to you, but if any of you try it, I’d encourage you to let me know what you think.  I absolutely love it and I hope you find it beneficial too.
Sean

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