Ready to get as fit as a fiddle and lean as a…erm lobster? OK well then you’re ready for HIIT or High intensity interval training. It’s what all the slim jims are doing to get fit and super lean. The good news is you get the benefits of this type of training in as little as 20 minutes; the bad news is it’s jolly hard work!

This type of training consists of short intense bursts of activity followed by longer recovery periods of steady state activity. To get the real benefits from this method it’s important that you can push yourself beyond your upper aerobic system, into your anaerobic system. Dipping into your anaerobic system means working at 80-90% of your max heart rate (MHR). A crude way of working out your MHR is to minus your age from 220. So mine would be 220-21(ahem) = 199 beats per minute(bpm). So the range for a 21 year old would be 159-179 bpm.

All well and good if you have a heart rate monitor, this makes it easy to see how hard you’re working but if you don’t have a monitor then you need to rely on your own perceived amount of exertion. The RPE (rating of perceived exertion) scale is used for just this with 0 at zen like meditation state and 10 going all hell for leather. You should aim to be 8-9 on here. Easy to cheat this way but really what would be the point? As Mrs Lund (my old math’s teacher) used to say ‘you’re only cheating yourself!’ she was right. I’m rubbish at math’s now. You’ll know when you hit your maximum effort as the tell tale muscle burn will kick in.

So to go over the benefits before you decide to opt out after reading of muscle burning: If you do HIIT training you will:

1. Burn more calories during and after the session as it takes your body longer to recover.

2. Get metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel

3. Improve endurance levels

4. Get lean

5. Limit muscle loss (which often happens during steady state cardio training)

6. Feel more energetic

7. Save time

Try this 20 min interval for starters. If you’re just beginning with this type of exercise then its best to keep the recovery periods quite long. Do this program three times during the next week, then start to decrease the recovery times by 1 min every week. This applies to any type of cardio training – running, elliptical, rowing etc.

Warm up: 5 mins at 60-70%MHR or 6-7 RPE

Interval: 1 min at 80-90%MHR or 8-9 RPE

Recovery: 4 mins at 60-70%MHR or 6-7 RPE

Repeat the interval and recovery again

Cool down: 5 mins at 60-70%MHR or 6-7 RPE

I’d love to know how you get on. Let me know.

‘It’s a deep burn!’ Name the movie and the actor…

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