Tips For Better HIIT Results
When performing the sprints, remember that it doesn’t actually matter how fast you are going as long as you are maxing out your potential. In other words, there’s a good chance that you are going to find yourself slowing down somewhat as you reach the later stages of your routine and you
shouldn’t worry if that happens.
Wearing a fitness tracker or running watch can help you with this. Something like the Garmin
Vivoactive will provide the best of both worlds here by acting as a fitness tracker throughout the day (measuring your heartrate and your steps etc.) but acting as a running watch during training and letting you monitor your route and your metrics.
Your maximum heartrate is something you can calculate quite easily. Simply go for a sprint or engage in other activity with maximum effort.
Monitor your heartrate and you should find that it never goes beyond a certain point. This point is your max heartrate and it’s what you should be
aiming to hit whenever you perform the high intensity portions of these workouts. The speed is less important. And of course you can also use this to work out 70% of your MHR, which should be your fat burning zone.
Should You Use Machines?
While HIIT itself is fairly simple to grasp, there are actually a lot of different factors to consider.
For example, you need to decide whether to use exercise machines or to avoid them and train outside instead. If you’re going to use HIIT for running for instance, should you use a treadmill or should you head outside and jog and sprint?
The answer is that it’s up to you (of course) and both have their advantages. What’s key is to recognize the different benefits of each and therefore to be able to make the best decision for you.
A lot of people will look down on exercise machines. There are indeed a number of problems with these:
For starters, they prevent you from getting outside which in itself has a huge number of different health benefits. At the same time though, you’ll also find that running outside has the advantage of training your legs harder and actually uses significantly different biomechanics.
That’s because running on a pavement or grass will require pulling force generated in your legs as you have to pull your body along the ground. Conversely, when you run on a treadmill, you will only need to lift your legs off the ground as the treadmill moves underneath you. As such, there is
actually less effort involved in running on a treadmill.
Running outside is also a lot more varied. While it’s possible to alter the angle and the pace on a treadmill, it’s still going to involve selecting from one of a number of different positions and sticking with it. When you run outside meanwhile, you are forced to constantly adapt to changes in the
shape of the ground, to the gradient you are running on and more.
Of course many of these issues are less significant if you are riding a stationary bike but the variety and the real world ‘value’ of running is one of the things that attracts a lot of people to it in the first place. But this doesn’t mean there is no place at all for running on a treadmill.
For starters, running on a treadmill is a good option if you have a bad knee or another complaint. Running at a fixed incline is a good way to reduce the strain on the knees and many people will thus prefer to stick to a treadmill so that they can control this facet. Better yet for bad knees or back complaints is to ride a stationary ‘recumbent bike’.
Bikes have zero impact, which makes them better for those with joint complaints. A recumbent bike meanwhile is a type of bike that has you leaning backward with your legs outstretched in front of you. This in turn means that you aren’t placing any weight on your legs or your spine and can simply concentrate on driving the pedals.
CV machines are also great for training when you can’t be bothered to head outside because it’s raining or cold and if you’re someone who will struggle to be motivated in this regard, then you should consider that a very big bonus. It’s always better to perform an easier form of exercise and stick with it, than it is to perform a more challenging form but then give up after the first week!
Lastly, running on machines will give you the ability to precisely control the level of challenge. That means that you can monitor the exact speed you’re able to maintain and a very good estimate of your calorie burn. Some will even include heartrate monitors or synchronise with external gadgets to
perform this job.
All this is ideal for HIIT because it means you can run for exactly 1 minute at a very precise speed and then switch. Next week, you can do the exact same thing and once you’re used to that you can increase the challenge by a very small and precise amount.
Incorporating Fasted Cardio
Before we get into the different tools and strategies you can use to mix up your HIIT training, note that there is a way you can increase your calorie burn significantly simply by changing the time of day that you train. This technique is called ‘fasted cardio’ and it involves training first thing in the morning before breakfast. This is called ‘fasted’ cardio because your body is in a fasted state. While you haven’t been consciously starving yourself, you will not have eaten for a while merely as a result of having been asleep for so long.
This means that your body will be very low on energy reserves as your glycogen stores and blood sugar are all but depleted. You’ll have higher levels of cortisol as a result, which is why many of us are cranky in the morning and it’s even one of the things that actually wake us up! Cortisol is one of our ‘wakefulness’ neurotransmitters and works in direct opposition to melatonin. If you train at this point then, before breakfast, you’ll be training at a massive calorie deficit and you’ll be forced to burn more fat.
Unfortunately, this also means you’re more likely to burn muscle. This is mitigated to some extent by performing HIIT rather than steady state cardio and especially if you are using concurrent training but it’s worth bearing in mind if your goal is to build lean muscle. If your goal is simply weight loss though, then go for it! Just make sure to give yourself a few minutes after getting up so your spine is less vulnerable to injury.