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How HIIT can make you Fit

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Is HIIT the missing link in your training sessions?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Time to celebrate the holiday season with family, football, friends and more. This joyous time also brings the promise of a new year, and with it comes a slew of New Year’s resolutions.

Perhaps you, like so many others, have decided that this is the year you’re going to get into shape – and this time you mean it. Maybe this is the year you sculpt that beach body you’ve always craved, or run that daunting 5K you’ve been putting off for ages. If this sounds like you, then you’re going to need a plan. Odds are your plan is no more elaborate than going to the gym more often, at least if you’re new to this sort of thing. Before you get packed up and ready to go, you need to ask yourself one simple question: “am I getting the most out of my workout?”

If you’re reading this article, then chances are that the answer is, in one way or another, no. There are always ways to improve the various ways people train, and one of those improvements can come in the form of a HIIT workout.

“Wait, what is HIIT?”

HIIT, short for high-intensity interval training, is a form of exercise seen in many popular training programs with a goal to challenge both the cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal systems through short bouts of exercise.

In simpler terms, it’s widely viewed as a superior form of cardio and resistance training in the fitness world – and it only takes a fraction of the time when compared to other training regiments. That’s right, when tackling an exercise program that utilizes HIIT workouts, such as CrossFit, you’re likely to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. What’s more, you’ll keep burning those calories for hours after your workout.

“Hold on. You’re telling me I can burn more calories, lose more weight and get into better shape by working out less?”

In a way, yes, but it isn’t quite that simple. HIIT works because of the way it pushes your body to its absolute limits. On a scale of 1-10, a “high intensity” workout can be considered anything above a seven, and includes activities such as sprints, power cleans, or burpees. These types of movements are extremely difficult to maintain for long periods of time for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that we do not consume oxygen fast enough to support such action. This is why the high-intensity portions of these workouts are usually broken up by recovery segments, and these segments are less intense bouts scattered throughout the workout.

“Okay, this can’t be right… I can work out for less time, lose more weight and I still get breaks?”

Well, not exactly breaks, but less intense recovery periods, yes. Still, it isn’t quite so simple. If it was, everyone would do it without hesitation.

It’s important to understand that HIIT workouts aren’t easy. They aren’t in the same realm as these magical “pills” or “get fit quick” plans sold on television. These workouts are the real deal, and they will challenge you in ways you’ve never been challenged before.

There are many things to consider when starting a program that involves such intense activity:

• If you are new to the gym, you could be at a greater risk for injury if you decide you want to jump right into HIIT. Why? Well, for one, a deconditioned individual will tire easier, and someone who is still learning correct postures associated with different exercises could break form easily.

• Are you mentally prepared? These workouts may be shorter, but they need to be harder for them to burn more calories than your average run. Get ready to sweat, breathe heavy and ache all over – all while watching that stubborn belly fat melt away. It will be worth it, but only if you can mentally handle the challenges you’ll face.

• How often do you plan to work out at this intense of a level? Remember, your body needs adequate rest for recovery, regardless the regimen you’d submitted to. Giving your muscles time to heal and recuperate is just as important as putting in the work to reach your goals.

If you want to burn fat calories and build muscle faster than you ever thought possible, give the sample HIIT workout below a try. Should that prove to be too difficult, try switching up the way you run, row or bike this week by starting your cardio with an all-out sprint for one minute (after executing a proper warm-up, of course), followed by two-three minutes of moderate intensity work. Alternate between those two intensities for anywhere between three and six rounds.

HIIT workout sample:

For time:

• 40 crunches

• 30 air squats

• 20 push ups

• 10 pull-ups

• REST ONE MINUTE

• 10 squat jumps

• 20 jumping jacks

• 30 mountain climbers

• 40-second plank hold

There are so many different ways to optimally train your body. Whatever path you decide to take, just make sure you’re prepared for what you’re getting into. If you’re ready to try something different that will shock your muscles in the best of ways, try HIIT. You might find it to be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Please consult with your physician before starting any workout regime to ensure the exercise is safe and right for you.