For those of you with any kind of history of serious fitness training behind you, a dramatic shift has occurred in the world of fitness with the almost stratospheric rise in ”cross-fit” type workouts, likely because of the combination in time savings and the enormous gain in benefits from daily exercise, both of which occur with these new style workouts. Also coined HIIT, for High Intensity Interval Training, these workouts are super intense, with little to no break time between activities, and incorporating several muscle groups at one time. In the past, fitness regimens were largely bodybuilding based, including several sets of isolated muscle work, for lengthy sessions upwards around an hour. On odd days, the performance of long boring cardio sessions on the aerobic equipment. There are still many who train this way, either out of familiarity or simply because they are not privy to newer information. This premise of fitness, now seemingly antiquated, in spite of its acceptance and benefits, has several drawbacks, the single biggest of which is time commitments. While older protocols of sets and reps can create large muscles, they can also leave aspiring trainees with little athleticism or fitness diversity. If improperly performed, these programs can contribute to notable muscle imbalance, faulty kinetics, (motion patterns), and general dysfunction. In contrast, the cross-fitness movement promotes athleticism and athletic synchrony. By emphasizing compound exercises involving several muscle groups simultaneously, and diversity of routines, fitness “muscle confusion” is produced. By keeping the body physiologically confused, one never fully adapts to a “routine” and will continually improve in fitness and athleticism without plateaus, so common using older standards of training. The cardio benefits associated with HIIT type exercise have been demonstrated to be enormous, as you don’t just burn calories during the activity, you will actually burn calories at a higher rate for the remainder of the day. And most of the routines? About fifteen minutes in total. Thats it.
So whats the down side of these more modern fitness training protocols? Well, for one, most people are following videos on the internet, so there is inherent risk in using improper form which can lead to injury. Because of the intensity level of these new regimens, it is possible for beginners to experience a condition known as “exertional rhabdomyolysis”, or simply stated, overtraining. If you are new to fitness and are using HIIT type training, monitor your body and results carefully and consider starting on a 3 or 4 day per week routine initially. There are also considerable cardiac and respiratory demands associated with this style of working out as your heart rate will quickly elevate to extreme levels as will your breathing, so it is imperative that you know that your heart and lungs are capable of keeping up with you. As with any exercise regimen, you should consult with your family physician prior.
On a personal note, I am a past record holding competitive bodybuilder/powerlifter, and I have never felt as fit as I currently do. I have been doing variations of HIIT for about a year now. For more information on fitness, refer to my Fitness page.