HIIT training. Maybe you have heard it’s an amazingly efficient way to burn fat, increase your cardio capacity, increase insulin resistance and alter your mood. Science says this is all 100% correct. It is also stressful for your body. It’s flu season, and an overstressed, run down immune system is not going to help. If you haven’t recently, visit your doctor and have him check you out before you do any HIIT.
So how to do HIIT? First thing is, it is essential to get a heart rate monitor. Any training without a monitor is just guessing. After you have done this for a while you will just know how a certain HR feels, but for now, wear the monitor. Know what the 60%, 90% and 100% of your max heart rate is. I am in pretty good shape so my max is actually about 15bps over what they say it should be, but go with the charts until you feel you are in good enough condition to test your max. The actual activity doesn’t matter that much. Sprints, repeatedly jumping over a log, jumping rope, weighted walks on a treadmill, rowing machine — these all will do the job. Warm up, which for me takes a bit longer these days. I like about 8 minutes. Then you get to it. I like to go 80-90% of max for about a minute, then back off, walk around until my HR goes to about 60% of max. This is key. It’s all about the up/down of the HR. For me it takes about a minute on the first round. Then I repeat. The HR will go up quicker than the first round and take longer to recover to 60%. Once the recovery time takes 4-5 minutes you are done. Any further training is just going to over stress your body. Warm down for 5 minutes. All in for me is about 20-25 minutes. Because properly done HIIT is tied to your heart rate and recovery times, as you get better, more effort will be required to get the same HR. This is the genius part of this. It works just as well for people at a variety of fitness levels.
I know, for a lot of you this does not sound like much fun, more like a science project on yourself. And in truth, you are correct. Skiing is fun, trail riding is fun, playing with my dog is fun. This is about training your body so that you can keep doing those things for a very long time. This getting older thing requires a lot of work, but the alternative is a real drag.