H.I.I.T. Training

Posted by David McCabe on April 10 2012 @ 16:18

If I told you that there was a way to burn more calories, lose more fat, and improve your cardiovascular fitness level while spending less time doing cardio, you’d probably reach for your phone to report me to the consumer fraud hotline, right?

Well, this is one of those rare times when your natural it’s-too-good-to-be-true reaction could be mistaken. If you want to take your fitness and fat loss to the next level—without spending more time in the gym—then high intensity interval training (also known as HIIT) could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Before getting into the details, notice that I didn’t say HIIT would be easier, just that it would take less of your time. In fact, the HIIT approach to cardio exercise is very physically demanding and isn’t for everyone. If you have any cardiovascular problems or other health concerns that limit your ability to exercise at very intense levels, or if you are relatively new to aerobic exercise or not already in good shape, HIIT is not for you—at least for now. If you have any doubts or concerns about whether it might be safe for you, check in with your medical professional before trying HIIT.

What It Is and How It Works
HIIT is a specialized form of interval training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise. Because it involves briefly pushing yourself beyond the upper end of your aerobic exercise zone, it offers you several advantages that traditional steady-state exercise (where you keep your heart rate within your aerobic zone) can’t provide:

HIIT trains and conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. You train your anaerobic system with brief, all-out efforts, like when you have to push to make it up a hill, sprint the last few hundred yards of a distance race, or run and hide from your spouse after saying the wrong thing.
HIIT increases the amount of calories you burn during your exercise session and afterward because it increases the length of time it takes your body to recover from each exercise session.
HIIT causes metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This will improve your athletic endurance as well as your fat-burning potential.
HIIT appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, in comparison to traditional steady-state cardio exercise of longer duration.
To get the benefits HIIT, you need to push yourself past the upper end of your aerobic zone and allow your body to replenish your anaerobic energy system during the recovery intervals.

The key element of HIIT that makes it different from other forms of interval training is that the high intensity intervals involve maximum effort, not simply a higher heart rate. There are many different approaches to HIIT, each involving different numbers of high and low intensity intervals, different levels of intensity during the low intensity intervals, different lengths of time for each interval, and different numbers of training sessions per week. If you want to use HIIT to improve performance for a particular sport or activity, you’ll need to tailor your training program to the specific needs and demands of your activity.

General HIIT Guidelines

HIIT is designed for people whose primary concerns are boosting overall cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and fat loss, without losing the muscle mass they already have.
Before starting any HIIT program, you should be able to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your estimated maximum heart rate, without exhausting yourself or having problems.
Because HIIT is physically demanding, it’s important to gradually build up your training program so that you don’t overdo it. (The sample training schedule below will safely introduce you to HIIT over a period of eight weeks.)
Always warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after each HIIT session.
Work as hard as you can during the high intensity intervals, until you feel the burning sensation in your muscles indicating that you have entered your anerobic zone. Elite athletes can usually sustain maximum intensity exercise for three to five minutes before they have to slow down and recover, so don’t expect to work longer than that.
Full recovery takes about four minutes for everyone, but you can shorten the recovery intervals if your high intensity intervals are also shorter and don’t completely exhaust your anaerobic energy system.
If you experience any chest pain or breathing difficulties during your HIIT workout, cool down immediately. (Don’t just stop or else blood can pool in your extremities and lightheadedness or faintness can occur.)
If your heart rate does not drop back down to about 70% of your max during recovery intervals, you may need to shorten your work intervals and/or lengthen your recovery intervals.
HIIT is not for beginner exercisers or people with cardiovascular problems or risk factors. If you have cardiovascular problems or risk factors should NOT attempt HIIT unless your doctor has specifically cleared you for this kind of exercise.

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The Truth about Abs!

Posted by David McCabe on April 10 2012 @ 12:03

If you’ve been doing crunches forever and are wondering why you still don’t have flat abs, you’re no doubt operating under what I consider the biggest myth of weight loss: That you can do an exercise for a certain area of your body and get rid of the fat there.

It’s no wonder this myth is so popular. Pick up any popular fitness magazine and you’ll find plenty of headlines to feed that belief. For example, in one issue of a popular fitness magazine recently proclaimed: “Banish Belly Fat – Tone, tighten , trim in just 7 moves.” 7 moves to flat abs? Who wouldn’t want that? But it’s these kinds of headlines that keep us stuck in the same place for months, even years, trying the same thing over and over and thinking we’ll finally get it right.

The truth is, six-pack abs are difficult to get. I’ve been exercising for 14 years and consider myself in excellent shape. I don’t have a six-pack and never have (and not for lack of trying). It took me years to understand that goal wasn’t right for me and, when I finally did, my life changed for the better. What about you? Is it time to let go of old goals and set new ones? Maybe it’ll help to get a clear idea of what it takes to get flat abs.

What You Really Need for Flat Abs

Despite what you think, ab exercises are not the number one thing you need to do for flat abs. In fact, getting flat abs requires hard work, commitment and something else you have no control over: cooperative genes.

The only way to get flat abs is to lose body fat and you already know what that requires:

1. Regular cardio exercise
2. Strength Training for the ENTIRE BODY (treating the abs just like any other muscle in the body)
3. A healthy, low-calorie diet

You must get all three of these (especially your diet) right on a consistent basis in order to even get close to flat abs. And, something else important: If you’ve lost body fat and you still don’t have flat abs, don’t be terribly surprised. Many of us will never see that six-pack because:

The body fat level required to get flat abs is lower than you can sustain with your current lifestyle/schedule, or
The body fat level required is lower than is healthy for your body to function.

So, even if you follow a perfect program and a perfect diet, flat abs still may elude you. Does that mean you should give up? You shouldn’t give up on exercise but, maybe, giving up the ideal of six-pack abs is exactly what you need to make your life better.

Giving Up on the ‘Ideal’

Now you know the truth: The goal to get flat abs may:

Require more exercise than your schedule will allow and more than you can mentally handle
Require more attention to your diet than you’re willing/able to expend
Require more strict adherence to diet/and exercise than you have the time or energy to spare
Not be in your genetic cards

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to get rid of that goal. It may seem foreign to imagine an exercise life without it, but it’s possible and tossing that goal may actually be a relief, allowing you to focus on what you can change.
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A Good Start to the Day!

Posted by David McCabe on April 10 2012 @ 12:03

They say to breakfast like a King! A great way to start the day is with oatmeal (porridge). Throw in either some seeds and nuts or protein powder and a couple of blueberries for anti-oxidents and you’ve set youself up for the day!

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