HIIT and SIT – Go Harder not Longer

28/03/2012 12:05 am 54 comments

Have a look at this picture, what do you notice?

The obvious is, the sprint athlete is lean, muscular and literally oozes explosive power. The other guy looks like he spent the last decade a castaway on a deserted island, or worse he was made to run 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers in the name of sporting performance!

Question: What style of exercise do you do for your Cardio training?

Is it long endless hours wasted on a treadmill, elliptical machine or exercise bike tearing away the muscles you worked so hard in the gym to put strength and power into?

Well, that is the accepted method for cardiovascular/weight loss training, isn’t it?

Particularly for many golfers.

So, to quote Dr Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”.

While I don’t entirely disagree that low to moderate intensity continuous training (LMICT) works (eventually) I do however, argue there is a far superior method that gets better results and uses up much less of your precious time.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Sprint interval training (SIT) have been found to more effectively breakdown body fat and increase cardiovascular function while sparing the muscles from losing their size and explosive power.

Just to be clear, I’m not down on long distance running and the people who participate, no what I am pointing out is that if you intend to be a golfer, which for all intents and purposes is a power/interval activity, then you need to train with that as your purpose.

Having said that, the first person told to run the marathon distance did drop dead at the end of it! Hmmmmm

What is High Intensity and Sprint interval activity? HIIT and SIT refers to intervals of activity broken up by periods of recovery. The activity’s intensity is done at a level, which is relative to the participant’s personal fitness. So the fitter you are the harder you can push.

So lose that look of horror, this type of training is suitable for just about everyone!

High intensity generally means work loads where the body works at a level where it simply cannot supply enough oxygen to the muscles. This should usually occur around the minute to two minute effort range.

Sprint intervals are generally shorter, below the anything from 6 seconds up to 1 minute and are at or close to peak effort.

HIIT has been around for a long time, its just that most of the early published research from the 70′s to the 90′s focused on the effect of LMICT and it’s health benefits, which makes interval training seem like a relatively new thing when in fact it is completely the opposite.

A quick look at mans evolution and history shows we don’t like long distance. When was the wheel invented? When was it decided to jump on a horse and ride for the distances we couldn’t be bothered walking? I don’t know, but one thing for sure is, we are not built to go far and fast on foot without suffering. As well, let me ask you, what do you think gets you sucking air more, a casual walk up a slight hill or running for your life and climbing the nearest tree to escape a wild animal. Clearly your cardiovascular system and metabolic system goes into overdrive with the latter.

And this extra breathing is an important factor to fat loss. All that high-energy output needs to be replaced, which means converting stored energy into useable energy and that requires oxygen.. Known as Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) the exercise intensity not the duration that has the greatest influence on the need to replenish energy stores, a process that goes on long after the training session has finished, continuing the training effect and burning calories.

Plenty of research shows that bang for bucks, HIIT and SIT activity has a greater positive effect on aerobic and anaerobic performance than LMICT alone and in much less time.

Sure it may feel like Hell to begin with, but the benefits far outlay the wasted time you are saving.

You need to do this style of training!

Even if your totally unfamiliar to this style of training and in a state of decondition, you will benefit and much faster than any easy steady training session. In fact if you have one less ice cream or donut a week you will cut out the same amount of calories as an easy pedal. Get into it and get your heart rate up. The absolute risk of sudden death from working hard in a training session (as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine by Albert et al. 2009) is reported to be 1 in 1.5 million. Pretty good odds.

And age should not be an excuse. Several studies have shown benefits for older age groups, including reducing resting heart rate, increasing leg strength thereby lowering falls risk and increased maximal heart rates and ventilation efficiency.

Think about it, when you are running late and about to miss the bus, you’ll break out into a sprint to make it.

So what’s the difference with doing the same for training? Nothing, then do it!

Get started

*Remember you personal fitness level will control how hard you can go. What is easy for you will be tough for someone else, so work at your level.

After a warm-up and stretching the necessary muscle. Set the treadmill to 15 degrees and up the speed so you can last a minute and only a minute (You might need to do a few trials to get the speed right) get on and go. At the end of the minute, straddle the treadmill and recover. Rest for 4 minutes and repeat the exercise for 4-8 repetitions. Walk for a cool-down and finish with stretching.

You can manipulate the work to rest ratio, though I don’t recommend extending the work intervals beyond 2 minutes as it is not viable to maintaining the near maximal efforts.


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