What’s all this hype about HIIT?

Scientists have devised a short but extreme exercise program guaranteed to whip you into shape in less time. But if you’’re not so fit, get the medical all-clear first.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is all the rage in the fitness industry at the moment and now research claims this kind of maximum capacity exercise routine can get great fitness and health results in as little as seven minutes a few times a week.

Exercise scientist Chris Jordan, at the Human Performance Institute in Florida, USA, has developed what he readily admits is a pretty full-on interval circuit workout that uses nothing more than your own body weight, a chair, the floor and a wall. But his research shows that just seven minutes of exertion – he describes the circuit as “unpleasant” – gets the job done. “We now know from research that you can attain great fitness benefits in a very short amount of time,” Jordan says.

“We wanted to find a program that suits busy high-level office workers who may travel a lot and work long hours and not have ready access to a gym, personal trainer or weights but who still wants to be very fit.“But this program suits everyone – mums at home with small children, parents working long hours in offices, even older people.” He says that according to research HIIT seems to be an efficient means of exercise to help decrease body fat, improve insulin sensitivity (a marker linked with type 2 diabetes), and boost exercise capacity, endurance and muscular fitness.

About the workout

It involves 12 exercises, each of which are performed in rapid succession for 30 seconds, with a minimal rest period between of no more than 10 seconds. Throughout the entire process, Jordan says, exercisers should be working to at least 80 per cent of full capacity. “it should not be comfortable,” he says. “push yourself to your limits.”

He also advises the exercises be performed in a certain order to allow opposing muscle groups to alternate between resting and working at subsequent exercise stations. For example, a push-up (upper body) station would be followed later by a squat (lower body) station.

Also if a particular exercise creates a significant increase in heart rate or intensity demand, the next exercise should function to decrease heart rate or intensity slightly. For example, a stationary plank or abdominal crunches may follow jumping squats.

The best – and safest – approach

Start with one circuit of the seven-minute program three times a week on non-consecutive days. After a couple of weeks up the number of circuits to two. Then two-to-three weeks later, increase to three circuits.

It’s not for the faint-hearted – literally

You need to have a better than average level of fitness to do this program safely at the intensity required, Australian sports science experts have warned. “This is something I would recommend to a health and fitness conscious person who is exercising regularly and has a reasonable knowledge for undertaking the program in a self-directed manner,” says Nigel Stepto, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at Melbourne’s Victoria University.

“I wouldn’t recommend this program be attempted without the supervision of an exercise professional or by someone who has a diagnosed medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, injuries and joint problems, are considered overweight or obese and has not exercised regularly within the past six to 12 months.”

Nathan Johnson, spokesperson for Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), adds that any woman over 55 or man over 45 should seek medical clearance before starting this kind of intense exercise program. “HIIT is extremely strenuous and puts incredible strain on the cardiovascular system, muscles and joints. It is not safe for people who don’t already have a fairly good level of fitness,” Johnson says.


Source: Herald Sun, Body + Soul Daily ‘Looking for a short workout? Consider high intensity interval training’ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health/looking-for-a-short-workout-consider-high-intensity-interval-training/story-fnivsuep-1226984410704