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Why High Intensity Interval Training May Be Ideal for Most
Contrary to popular belief, extended extreme cardio actually sets in
motion inflammatory mechanisms that damage your heart. So while your heart is
indeed designed to work very hard, and will be strengthened from doing so,
it’s only designed to do so intermittently, and for short periods—not for an
hour or more at a time. This is the natural body mechanics you tap into when
you perform HIIT.
Repeatedly and consistently overwhelming your heart by long distance
marathon running, for example, can actually prematurely age your heart and
make you more vulnerable to irregular heart rhythm. This is why you sometimes
hear of seasoned endurance athletes dropping dead from cardiac arrest during
Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of
exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise. Not only does it beat
conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it
also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics,
such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness
What Makes HIIT so Effective?
Your body has three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast, and super-fast
twitch muscles. Slow twitch muscles are the red muscles, which are activated
by traditional strength training and cardio exercises. The latter two (fast
and super-fast) are white muscle fibers, and these are only activated during
high intensity interval exercises or sprints.
According to fitness expert Phil Campbell, author of Ready, Set, Go,
getting cardiovascular benefits requires working all three types of muscle
fibers and their associated energy systems -- and this cannot be done with
traditional cardio, which only activates your red, slow twitch muscles. If
your fitness routine doesn't work your white muscle, you aren't really
working your heart in the most beneficial way. The reason for this is because
your heart has two different metabolic processes:
The aerobic, which requires oxygen for fuel, and
The anaerobic, which does not require any oxygen
Traditional strength training and cardio exercises work primarily the
aerobic process, while high intensity interval exercises work both your
aerobic AND your anaerobic processes, which is what you need for optimal
cardiovascular benefit. This is why you may not see the results you desire
even when you're spending an hour on the treadmill several times a week.
Interestingly enough, when it comes to high intensity exercises, less really
is more. You can get all the benefits you need in just a 20-minute session,
start to finish, performed two or a max of three times per week.
How to Properly Perform Peak Fitness Exercises
If you are using exercise equipment, I recommend using a recumbent
bicycle or an elliptical machine for your high-intensity interval training,
although you certainly can use a treadmill, or sprint anywhere outdoors. Just
beware that if you sprint outside, you must be very careful about stretching
prior to sprinting.
I personally prefer and recommend the Peak Fitness approach of 30 seconds
of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of recuperation, opposed to Dr.
Tabata’s more intense routine of 20 seconds of exertion and only 10 seconds
of recovery. But some might like his strategy more. His approach may be
better suited to fitter athletes who want to kick it up another notch, but
may be too intense for most people. For a demonstration using an elliptical
machine, please see the following video. Here are the core principles:
Warm up for three minutes
Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should be gasping for breath and feel like you couldn't possibly go on another few seconds.
It is better to use lower resistance and higher repetitions to increase your heart rate.
Recover for 90 seconds,still moving, but at slower pace and decreased resistance.
Repeat the high-intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times. (When
you're first starting out, depending on your level of fitness, you may only
be able to do two or three repetitions of the high-intensity intervals. As
you get fitter, just keep adding repetitions until you're doing eight during
your 20-minute session).
Cool down for a few minutes afterward by cutting down your intensity
by 50-80 percent
By the end of your 30-second high-intensity period you will want to reach
It will be relatively hard to breathe and talk because you are in
You will start to sweat. Typically this occurs in the second or third
repetition unless you have a thyroid issue and don't sweat much normally.
Your body temperature will rise.
Lactic acid increases and you will feel a muscle "burn."
Some Suggestions to Take Into Consideration
Remember, while your body needs regular amounts of stress like exercise
to stay healthy, if you give it more than you can handle your health can
actually deteriorate. So it’s crucial to listen to your body and integrate
the feedback into your exercise intensity and frequency.
When you work out, it is wise to really push as hard as you possibly can
a few times a week, but you need to wisely gauge your body's tolerance to
this stress. When you're first starting out, depending on your level of
fitness, you may only be able to do two or three repetitions of Peak Fitness.
That’s okay! As you get fitter, just keep adding repetitions until you’re
doing eight. And if six is what your body is telling you, then stop there.
If you have a history of heart disease or any medical concern please get
clearance from your health care professional to start this. Most people of
average fitness will be able to do it though; it is only a matter of how much
time it will take you to build up to the full 8 reps, depending on your level
For Optimal Health, Add Variety to Your Exercise Program
In addition to doing high intensity interval exercises a couple of times
a week, it’s wise to alternate a wide variety of exercises in order to truly
optimize your health. Without variety, your body will quickly adapt and the
benefits will begin to plateau. As a general rule, as soon as an exercise
becomes easy to complete, you need to increase the intensity and/or try
another exercise to keep challenging your body. I recommend incorporating the
following types of exercise into your program on days when you’re not doing
high intensity anaerobic training:
Strength Training: If you want, you can increase the intensity by
slowing it down. You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The
weight should be heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12
repetitions, yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also
important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day. They need at
least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild.
For more information about using super slow weight training as a form
of high-intensity interval exercise, please see my interview with Dr. Doug
Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your
back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for
movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect
and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help
you gain greater balance and stability.
Exercise programs like Pilates, yoga, and Foundation Training are
great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can
learn from a personal trainer.
Stretching: My favorite type of stretching is Active Isolated
Stretching (AIS) developed by Aaron Mattes. With AIS, you hold each stretch
for only two seconds, which works with your body's natural physiological
makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints.
This technique also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for daily
activity. You can also use devices like the Power Plate to help you stretch.
Thank You Dr. Mercola
God Bless Everyone & God Bless The United States of America.
42 S. Sherwood Dr.
Belton, Tx. 76513
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