Welcome to OlderBeast’s Fall 2017 High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Challenge. If you know what this is already and are ready-to-go, skip right to the next section (and if so, then nice decisiveness, bro!).
If you’re just exploring, then FYI the purpose of this and other challenges is to help inspire and support you in trying new fitness/nutrition approaches, in ways that “one-off” articles can’t do as well on their own.
The “challenge” in this context won’t typically be just quantitative (like “X push-ups”). Rather, it will more broadly target successful experimentation, learning, decision-making if this is “for you,” and (if so) incorporation into your routine.
So every single guy who undertakes this challenge can succeed, if he decides to. Really, it’s a challenge to your curiosity, willingness to be a “beginner” at something new, and determination to give something a fair trial to see if it might be part of your long-term game plan.
As the season unfolds, each week there will be updates including one or more of:
- OlderBeast-original content – as always, from the perspective of the 45+ guys that we are
- Curated “best-of” information and advice from gurus from around the web
- Expert interviews
- Reviews of relevant products and services
THE HIIT CHALLENGE
- Do at least six HIIT workouts during October-December 2017
- Have those workouts span at least two “flavors” of HIIT (more on this within “Types of HIIT” section below)
- Decide by New Year’s whether to include HIIT in your 2018/onward fitness routine (and if so, what kind and practiced where)
Why HIIT as something to experiment with?
More and more research is pointing to the high efficacy of HIIT for conditioning, weight management and time efficiency in a busy life.
Why these specific goals?
If you haven’t done HIIT, or done it recently, it will be challenging. The initial “whoa, this is hard” reaction after 1-3 sessions shouldn’t color your long-term stance on HIIT, man. Also, there are multiple variations of workout under the HIIT label. You should try and understand at least a couple of them to best judge if it’s for you.
Instructions for Getting Started:
- Please read the sections below on “why,” “types” and “where to start”
- Find and select your first source of trying a HIIT routine (at a gym or online)…
- …and SCHEDULE it into your life for some time in the next two weeks, to get going on the challenge
- Check back at OlderBeast.com each week for more to guide you along the way (or follow OlderBeast on Facebook or Twitter to be notified each time new content is available)
- Join OlderBeast’s Private Facebook Members Group to compare notes and swap tips and tricks with other guys taking the challenge.
The benefits of running for 30+ minutes, or doing the equivalent on a bike or in the pool, are pretty well understood. But since HIIT benefits are a more-recently-emerging science, let’s briefly review the logic of “why HIIT.”
- HIIT offers a higher “fitness gained for time spent” ratio than longer, moderate workouts.
- If intervals include strength moves, you get strength and cardio work at the same time. Great if you’re crunched for time, or want to add a “mini” strength session to a traditional cardio workout that can thus be shortened a little without sacrificing overall cardio time.
- For weight management, HIIT burns similar calories in less workout time. It then has a metabolic “afterburn” effect that keeps burning calories for longer post-workout.
Use your time more-efficiently, mix cardio and strength, and burn more calories. These are some major benefits, brother. So if you’re not doing it already, try HIIT this season.
TYPES OF HIIT
“High-Intensity Intervals” can be done within two broad activity types.
1. High-Intensity Cardio Intervals.Running, biking, rowing, jumping rope, and plyometrics (jump training) can all be done with an interval approach. Short bursts of near-all-out effort are mixed with measured recovery intervals during which you slow down.
Many of the recently-reported clinical studies used cardio intervals as their “experimental” group to compare to a lower-intensity, longer-duration cardio “control” group. There are so many example studies, that rather than just point to one, here’s a link to a Google search if you want to learn more.
By the way, swimming can feature high-intensity intervals as well, as can certain more-specialized exercise concepts like cardio (opponent-less) kick-boxing.
2. Metabolic Resistance Training.This means strength exercises done with minimal rest between sets. When done with enough intensity—i.e. some combo of resistance level, rep pace and rep count—this type of workout becomes cardio, too. I’m talking about stuff like push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, squats, swinging kettlebells, throwing medicine balls, and core work. Sometimes even more traditional weights-based movements, though not typically with very high weight.
When you do stuff like this, you’re working your cardiovascular system, lots of muscles…everything you’ve got…all at once. It burns a ton of calories—hence the “metabolic” label. It will also have you leaning over and gasping of air, with a pounding heart, pretty effectively.
Different gyms/programs combine these in different proportions and styles.
Some places, “HIIT” is largely about doing circuits of high-then-low effort on treadmills, bikes, rowers. Or on your own two feet with things like jumping jacks or jumping rope. At other places, there’s a little bit of that but most of the focus is on the resistance stuff with bodyweight or weights of various kinds. CrossFit was an early example of this, and many “boot camp” style workouts are essentially HIIT with metabolic resistance elements, too.
WHERE TO START
Chances are, there are multiple gyms near where you live or work that offer instructor-led HIIT classes. Googling “interval training near me” will find whatever combination of boot camp-style or cardio-interval-focused boutiques are in your area. And also mainstream multi-purpose gyms that offer HIIT classes (if you belong to a gym with classes, chances are they’ve got HIIT).
There are some growing chains like Orange Theory Fitness that have HIIT-based concepts (and SoulCycle and other “spin” concepts are somewhat of HIIT-on-bikes). But in most areas, many of the HIIT-specialized studios are still owned by individuals or smaller regional companies.
Online, there are many options that span streaming video of instructor-led classes as well as “try this on your own” suggestions for HIIT workouts. Part of the challenge for you here is to be your own “Architect” and shop around.
But to start you off, two good streaming options (both with free trial periods) are BeachBody On Demand and Daily Burn. A lot of the online concepts feature an “X Day” program concept where they want you to just do their workout for 15, 30, 60, 90 days. Of course, do that if you want. But what I mean here, for this challenge, is just use their programs to test out HIIT.
As this Challenge progresses, OlderBeast will provide some gym / online-program reviews and pointers to good do-it-yourself resources. But for starters, with free trials available everywhere both in-person and online, I suggest you use one of the resources you find as outlined here.
ONE LAST “PITCH” FOR THIS CHALLENGE
Interested, but already “fully scheduled” with your current workout routine? I get that feeling…but the benefits of HIIT are so clear, you should find a way to make time for trying it. Provided you’re working out 4+ times a week, it’s worth it to experimentally take one day away from your current routine and try HIIT. Or of course, add HIIT on so you’re being physical one additional day vs. your current pattern.
You know, we can have a “pretty good” exercise routine, but fall short of “really good” or “great” because we’re not challenging ourselves with enough intensity, or not getting enough variety of movement types in what we do. HIIT sure addresses the “intensity” issue – intensity is its middle name, for crying out loud – and often the variety aspect, too.
So take the challenge, man. You’ll be glad you did.
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