Due to the recent pandemic HIIT became a go to training method for all the home training workouts and videos floating around.

A bonus for HIIT was the confirmation that even though results in body composition change were similar, it can be achieved in more time-efficient manner than moderate intensity, continuous training.

So I will give you few points and you can decide for yourself if it’s suitable for You!

PROS

It makes you younger

Research at the Mayo Clinic suggested that HIIT can actually reverse the signs of ageing at a cellular level. This was found to be due to improved mitochondrial function, a decline of which is common in older adults and improved protein synthesis that enhanced energetic function and led to hypertrophy, thereby countering the impact of sarcopenia.

Robinson et al, Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans, Cell Metabolism March 2017

Short bursts of HIIT (85% of maximum working heart rate) improve cholesterol and blood sugar among type 2 diabetes patients more significantly than continuous low intensity exercise (working at 65%). This is somewhat revolutionary as, historically, diabetes management programs have focused primarily on low intensity exercise.

Researchers were unclear why shorter bursts of high intensity exercise lead to more significant improvements compared with continuous low intensity exercise other than to suggest that high intensity exercise uses energy in a different way.

Francois and Little, Effectiveness and Safety of High Intensity Interval Training in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, January 2015

 

The feel-good factor

HIIT results in increased endorphin release in the brain, which plays a role in dampening physical and emotional stress. Comparing moderate and high intensity exercise, researchers have identified that HIIT significantly increases the release of endorphins and other opioid peptides in the brain areas controlling pain and emotion.

It is suggested this exercise-induced endorphin release determines whether we maintain motivation during exercise, pushing ourselves to continue working out despite exhaustion, thereby predisposing better results.

As opposed to continuous exercise, HIIT offers a sense of accomplishment after each bout of effort, and the recovery bout allows a moment to reflect positively on the work done, but also acts as something to look forward to going into the next effort bout. The end result is that the protocol is perceived as being more pleasant.

Saanijoki et al, Opioid Release after High-Intensity Interval Training in Healthy Human Subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology, July 2017

 

Beat the cheat meal

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, are one the leading cause of death worldwide, and it’s known the foundations of these conditions are formed during youth. An impairment in the function of blood vessels is thought to be the earliest event in this process, and this is known to occur in the hours immediately after consuming a high fat meal. However, the good news is, HIIT before a high fat meal can potentially offer a preventive quality.

Researchers compared HIIT against continuous moderate intensity exercise on blood vessel function in adolescent subjects after they had a high fat milkshake. It showed that approximately 25 minutes of moderate intensity cycling prevented the fall in blood vessel function after the high fat meal, but just 8 minutes of high intensity cycling not only prevented this fall, but improved blood vessel function.

Bond et al, Exercise Intensity and the Protection from Postprandial Vascular Dysfunction in Adolescents, American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, March 2015

 

CONS

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Could be too challenging

Dr Paul Bedford, an internationally renowned retention specialist, says the harder you work some clients, the sooner they’ll leave you. Unless managed carefully, HIIT workouts could have a negative impact on the likelihood of them sticking to an exercise regime, particularly those new to exercise. Gym floor surveys by a multi-site operator established that members who’d been exercising for some time were keen to step up and try HIIT, but new exercisers who thought it looked fun, discovered the discomfort they experienced was so great, many only did it once.

Abigail Harris, Pain Response, Health Club Management, June 2019

Risk of injury

A study that shows there has been an increase in the number of injuries since 2007 links the increase with the growing popularity of HIIT. A team analyzed records in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 2007 to 2016, noting a total of nearly 4 million injuries. They found a steady increase in gym injuries (60,000 per year), which mirrored the growth in the number of people doing HIIT workouts.

In its conclusion, the report states that given increases in injuries related to HIIT workouts, participants should be educated on how to minimize them. Since knee and ankle sprains are most common, pre-strengthening and technique focus sessions would be of great value to new clients.

In addition, since it’s suggested that just one extreme indoor cycling class can be enough to trigger rhabdomyolysis, where muscle fibers break down and their contents leak into the bloodstream and can in turn lead to kidney failure, it’s important that participants understand the difference between ‘high’ and ‘dangerously high’.

Rynecki et al, Department of Orthopedics, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Injuries sustained during high intensity interval training: are modern fitness trends contributing to increased injury rates? The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Feb 2019

Too much of a good thing

If HIIT produces great results, then surely more frequent workouts will lead to even better results? Seems logical but it’s not the case according to recent research that suggests any more than 40 minutes of HIIT in a maximum training zone, per week, can reduce performance and potentially result in a greater risk of injury.

The study measured effects of HIIT by examining cortisol and testosterone concentrations in saliva samples and it appears those who do more than 40 minutes of HIIT per week are unable to produce a positive stress response.

Gottschall, Penn State University, 2018 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting

 

Not suitable for Complete Beginners and Elite athletes

Following HIIT workouts, beginners showed fragmentation of the ryanodine receptor, which leads to impairment of the muscle cell’s ability to contract. However, the cells react to this stress by increasing their endurance capacity, making them better able to withstand the next bout of HIIT.

Unfortunately, endurance athletes don’t get the same benefits due to having developed a more effective antioxidant system that dampens this effect. It’s true to say that some elite athletes might be too fit for HIIT.

Place et al, Ryanodine receptor fragmentation and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ leak after one Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2015

 

It’s no secret that the word “functional” is one of the “big words” in fitness industry today. Despite the varying opinions on what some are defining as “functional movements”, it usually always gets narrowed down to activities of daily living.

There are 6 basic fundamental activities of daily living:

  • Bathing: getting into and out of a tub or shower
  • Dressing: putting on any necessary items of clothing, as well as undressing
  • Transferring: getting into and out of a bed, chair, etc.
  • Toileting: getting to and from the toilet
  • Continence: maintaining control of bowel and bladder function
  • Eating: the ability to feed yourself

Performing most ADLs (activities of daily living) require our major joint systems to have a certain amount of flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance to perform each task. With this being said, below are 3 exercises that would all help us age gracefully as we aim for the best quality of life possible.

There are fitness enthusiasts that “live to exercise.” Not everyone is like that. You don’t have to necessarily live to exercise, but you probably need to exercise to live.

Deadlift

We are constantly “picking things up and putting them down”. How many times have we heard about that person’s “back going out” when they went to pick up something off the floor or getting in and out of a chair?

It starts with a good, deadlift/hip hinge. Your hips travel back with a softening of the knees. Then, your knees bend more as you continue lowering yourself down onto the chair. Yes, I also just described the squat (which is really just a different version of a deadlift and vice versa). A good squat starts with a good hinge. Otherwise, it’s the guy who needs to hold onto something in front of them, bend his spine forward, and flop down quickly onto a seat.

We are constantly picking things up and off the floor, whether that be our children, pets, a box full of certain supplies, a laundry basket, and the list goes on.

What’s also interesting to note is that the deadlift makes most lists, whether it be for topics ranging from longevity, to max strength, toning, or stability. Success often leaves clues. If you keep hearing how beneficial the deadlift is on a variety of levels, then there’s good reason to include it in your programs.

Carry

And sometimes, not only do you need to pick something up, but then you need to carry it around as well.  Groceries bags, that laundry basket you just picked up, or a suitcase and a bag when you are rushing to your flight at the airport, these are more of the common examples. While travelling around the world I have taken tons of flights over the years, and the amount of people who cannot even put their luggage in an overhead compartment is phenomenal.

There are many different types of carrying variations. Farmer, unilateral, waiter, rack, and mixed are some of the most popular. Just as life will always ask us to do something different, it is important to use a variety of these drills.

Get Up (Get Down)

How many grandparents can easily get down to the ground to play with their grandkids? How easily can any of us get up from the floor without grabbing on to all available apparatuses, while at the same time throwing variety of facial expressions and holding our backs, knees, and shoulders in agony?

In a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology (2014), Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo had more than 2,000 patients ages 51 to 80, all participate in an exercise program at Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro. With this, he created the SRT, the sitting-rising test.

Araujo noticed that many of his patients, particularly older people, had trouble with ordinary motions, such as bending down. As people age, reduced muscle power and loss of balance can greatly increase the risk of dangerous falls.

There are many ways to exercise with ground to standing drills. The Turkish get up is one of the most notorious exercises for such a goal. Start with 1/4 get up and progress gradually!

Summary

In the end, there is one word that it all comes back to: movement.

We learned way back in middle school science class that things in motion stay in motion, and things at rest stay at rest.

June 1st is just around the corner. It is a new moth, lockdowns are being slowly lifted all around the world and situation regarding the Covid-19 starting to slowly improve. Also some of you will be celebrating Eid in just few days marking the end Ramadan. So the time is just perfect to mentally be ready for new beginnings, goals and changes. So let’s start month of June with the bang! I have listed some information on how to start your fitness and journey and make it a sustainable lifestyle change.

I will show you a strategy called “Four Pillars Of Habits”, this is a method that I always use with most of my clients in order to build a sustainable lifestyle change. But before we get into that lets first ask yourself why you are doing this?

Choose your why

There is no right or wrong answer, so long as it comes from a place of self-love and a genuine desire to do something for yourself, as opposed to external pressures and others’ expectations. 

For example, by trying to lose weight to match social expectations without genuine internal motivation, you aren’t likely to succeed. Instead, you could think of a more practical reason that’s going to significantly improve your life in a certain way – for instance, to feel more “fresh” when you wake up in the morning or simply to look more “like yourself” if you have gained weight due to stress at work and aren’t fully comfortable in your current body. 

Likewise, you may not be as interested in changing your body shape at all, but instead you may want to improve performance-related parameters, being that endurance or strength. In this case, any appearance-related goal is going to be useless. 

Remember, any reason is acceptable, whether it is appearance-driven or health-related, so long as it’s your goal and not someone else’s! Trying to achieve someone else’s ideals is exhausting and usually unsuccessful, so focus on your health and happiness instead. 

Build confidence through action

Self-doubt can be one of the biggest barriers to starting, or re-starting, your fitness journey. If you’ve tried before and experienced a setback, you may feel like you’ve failed. 

The first thing that you need to remember is that you haven’t failed! Fitness is a journey with many twists and turns. Practising gratitude can help you to overcome any self-doubt and focus on the positive action you can take right now.

Four Pillars Of Habits

#1 Foundation

The Foundation is just some baseline things that are going to set you up for success. They are so foundational that you could say, they are requirements for a healthy and productive life.

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Creating external order (tidy up!)
  • Managing eating and drinking

These elements are about creating an optimal environment, one that will help you be productive and successful. If you feel like you’ve mastered these Foundation elements, great! If not, don’t worry. It’s more productive to focus on one habit instead of many. Moreover, though, you can use one habit to change and improve other Foundation elements easily.

What is keystone habit? keystone habit is a habit that improves other areas of your life naturally because you are intrinsically motivated and want to support the keystone habit. For example you might want to go to bed earlier today because you want to do well in tomorrows early fitness class.

“When I worked out, I wanted to eat better. Even though I could have rewarded myself with chocolate bars and ice cream, I felt like eating real, healthy foods. I also slept better. And when I was awake, I seemed more productive. Especially in the hour or two after working out, when my mind seemed to think clearer and my writing was crisper. Thoughts flowed easily.” — James Clear

The body craves what you give it and this goes both ways.

If you are having trouble with the Foundation elements, I recommend moving forward with your fitness routine as it may help you with some of the other aspects. Let’s take sleep as an example. We only have so much energy; if you get up early to go the gym, even if you haven’t had a solid seven to eight hours of sleep, you will inevitably be tired that evening. Exhaustion and consistency around bedtimes will help you get into a more regular sleep routine. Maybe your workout will be hard, perhaps you’ll be tired during the day, but these are temporary sacrifices. What you don’t want to do is wait until your sleep improves enough where you can justify going to the gym. If your sleep never gets better, then you never go to the gym.

#2 Accountability

You do better when you know someone’s watching — even if you’re the one doing the watching. — Gretchen Rubin

There are two kinds of accountability, internal and external. Internal accountability is being accountable to oneself. External accountability is being accountable to someone or something else. For many people, especially when it comes to exercise, external accountability is most helpful, but there are ways to do both, listed below.

One of the most popular methods of external accountability is a workout partner or just someone who helps monitor your gym goal. In practice, you can share a workout calendar with a friend who is checking in on you, or use an app to create transparency around your progress with a person or group of people. Working out with a partner is a great incentive to get to the gym — but if you can’t find one, don’t let this stop you from moving forward.

Here are some external and internal accountability methods to consider.

External Accountability Methods

  • Sign up for weekly classes
  • Get a personal trainer
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Get a workout buddy

Internal Accountability Methods

  • Set a specific time based goal
  • Have a clear and specific workout plan that supports your goal
  • Put your gym clothes on as soon as you get out of bed
  • If going to the gym in the evening, pack your gym bag the night before
  • Setup a (healthy) reward system for going to the gym

Hiring a coach is an excellent method of external accountability that can help you with clarifying your goal and setting up a specific workout plan for you. Then, all you have to do is show up and do the work!

#3 Monitoring

Monitoring (or tracking) can be helpful when you’re trying to change or adopt a new habit; it allows you to have real data to understand how you’re doing.

I keep this in mind at all times:

Clarity creates motivation
Tracking creates awareness
Reporting creates accountability

Tracking creates awareness. One genuine experience I observed is when I (for a short time) counted calories. I weighed my food and ate mainly the same thing every day, which made tracking easier. It was part of my health and fitness plan to stay within a specific caloric window each day. When you track at this level of detail, you start to understand how easy it is to overeat or undereat. More importantly, you have excellent data to inform your journey. You don’t need to get this detailed, but there are a few ways you can easily apply monitoring to fitness.

Use the Don’t Break the Chain Method

This method also called the “Seinfield Strategy” is a method where for each day that you work towards a goal or an activity, you mark that day on a physical calendar. It’s a visual habit tracker. People use this method to keep track of stuff that they want to every day (“don’t break the chain”). However, you can easily modify it to suit your needs. If you gym goal is four days a week, just don’t break that chain. It’s a great way to stay motivated and to also celebrate your success, visually!

Fitness Trackers

I love wearing a fitness tracker just to know how many steps I’ve taken during the day. In addition to working out, I have a target of 10k steps per day. Monitoring in this way helps me get up and go for short walks during the day and gives me the data I need to take action.

Other Methods

The method of monitoring you choose depends on your goal. If you want to lose weight, then monitor your weight, if you want to build muscle then monitor that. Some people like to take weekly or monthly photos or keep an exercise journal. Think about what methods will work for you. Also, what a great way to have some internal accountability!

Remember: you can manage what you monitor!

#4 Scheduling

Scheduling is merely putting an activity on your calendar. It has this magical way of making things happen. When something is in your schedule, you’re more likely to do it. Some people are even using calendar instead of to do list.

One of the most common reasons or as I say excuses that people end up sedentary and skip being active is lack of time. I genuinely believe that even in a busy life, one can find the time to exercise. Also, you make time for what’s important to you. If you really can’t find time or energy for a workout then go for a walk outside your house, also especially during this pandemic there are so many home workouts and ideas floating around for example let’s take our June Restart Challenge it is based on bodyweight exercises that require a minimal amount of room and no equipment.

The Power of Yes

When talking about exercise, most people say “I’ll try to do it.” I think that’s a self-defeating way to go about it! Why try to do it, just do it. There is power in saying yes.

Keep Moving

There are opportunities throughout each day to move. Take the stairs, walk up the escalator, go for walks and so on. Look for opportunities in the day to get more steps in and keep moving.

Good luck with your fitness journey and if you need any help we are here to help!

“Every habit has a reward: when our brain starts to anticipate and crave the reward, it makes the behavior automatic”. — Fast Company