So I have some good news and bad news…
The Bad News: According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the average adult should undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. This equates to roughly 3 to 5 weekly workouts at 30 to 60 minutes a piece. While it’s obviously important that we put a priority on our health maintenance, it’s not surprising that with our hectic schedules that these 150 minutes a week get avoided or ignored. With jobs, kids, school, etc. workouts oftentimes take a backseat in priority, and we don’t spend enough time at the gym as we should.
But what if I were to tell you that the ACSM also recommends an alternative strategy that could cut your weekly workout in HALF!?
The Good News:
The ACSM offers an alternative workout program, albeit a more intense version, that takes only 75 minutes a week!
What is ACSM’s recommendation? — High Intensity Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is an intense workout format that will cut your workout time in half. With rotating phases of high and low intensity physical output, nearly any workout method could be converted into the HIIT format. Running, swimming, weight training, rowing, etc., are all candidates for a HIIT program.
How it works:
- Select the workout that you want to convert to High Intensity Interval Training. (Let’s use running on the treadmill as an example.)
- Perform a short warm up for 3-5 minutes. For example, a brisk walk on the treadmill would suffice. You should strive to achieve a maximum heart rate of 40% – 50%. (Not sure of your maximum heart rate? Luckily we offer a simple heart rate calculator here.)
- Begin a high intensity workout phase for 15 seconds to 4 minutes, depending on your personal fitness levels (consult physician for this determination.) High intensity exercise here is defined as achieving and maintaining 80% to 95% of your maximum heart rate.
- Return to low intensity phase, aka 40% – 50% of your maximum heart rate. The low intensity, or recovery phase, should be slightly longer than the high intensity phase. Depending on how long your high intensity phase lasted, the recovery phase could last anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for five to seven more repetitions. This should result in six to eight total high intensity intervals.
- 5-10 minutes cool down and stretch.
(Total Workout Time: 10-40 minutes)
The beauty of the HIIT method is that it can work with almost any fitness equipment you choose. Also, remember that there are alternate ways to increase your heart rate other than simply increasing your speed. You may try obtaining high intensity levels by increasing elevations or resistances on the various workout equipment you choose. But as always — remember to workout safely, and consult your physician before engaging in any new workout programs.