Effective Exercise (Aerobic vs. Anaerobic?) Part 3
Aerobic exercise does have a place in our exercise repertoire, however, anaerobic or high intensity interval training (HIIT) provides a more efficient means of exercise with faster and more profound results. As a side note here, it is important to relate that this type of exercise is not for compromised individuals, especially with underlying or manifested cardiovascular issues because of the stress of the exercise. Before trying this program, it is important to have a medical evaluation and, if necessary, a cardiac stress test to make sure your heart is functioning normally. HIIT requires a maximal effort over a relatively short duration follow by a rest time in multiple intervals, hence the name of high intensity interval training. A typical profile of exercise would include using a stationary upright or seated bicycle or elliptical machine. The program as described by Dr. Mercola works as follows:
- 3 minute warm-up at a low level at a low pace and resistance.
- At the 3 minute mark, begin an all-out effort of exercise as hard as you can at a higher level of resistance.
- Continue for 30 seconds of all-out effort.
- At the 30 second mark, decrease your intensity to a low pace and lower the resistance.
- Continue this cycle for a total of 8 repetitions. Start at the 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17 minute marks, ending at their 30 second marks.
- At the end of 8 repetitions perform a cool down at low pace and low resistance for 3 more minutes.
It is important to remember to try to give your maximum effort while performing the exercise. You will be out of breath and you will most likely, sweat profusely. Your heart rate will increase and continue to increase with each consecutive repetition. It is very helpful to use a heart rate monitor to help track your heart rate. Your heart rate will likely reach and surpass your calculated maximum heart rate by 5-10 beats. Your maximum heart rate is found by subtracting 220 minus your age. For example, if you are 40 years old then subtract 220 minus your age and get a maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute. You will want to watch how quickly your heart rate recovers to a slower pace. This is a good indicator of your conditioning. This type of workout can be difficult to say the least, so be sure to allow for adequate time between training sessions to prevent over-training and burnout. Leaving 2 days between sessions should help sufficiently with recovery. Do not do HIIT more than 3 times per week.
If you are just starting out it is fine to scale back the workout. For instance, you may only be able to finish 2 repetitions initially, and then as your fitness levels increase, you can add more repetitions. Also, if you are really just a beginner, then use intermittent slow walking and faster walking intervals or stationary biking geared down with slower and then medium intensity on the faster cycles. You will still reap some of the benefits of HIIT. If you are more of an athlete, or as your conditioning progresses, you can increase the intensity of your HIIT. Some ideas include, swimming, sprinting, and even sprinting uphill. Be careful however, and make sure your conditioning is at the proper level, and you warm-up and stretch appropriately to avoid injuries. It is very easy to tear a hamstring or pull a groin muscle, especially if you are not used to sprinting.
Here is a link to watch Dr. Mercola and Phil Campbell, innovators of HIIT, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy7j9FRiJpg.
See the final portion of this series, Part 4, to understand all the benefits of HIIT and stimulation of HGH.