AS YOU HAVE FIGURED OUT BY NOW, not every workout is for everyone. The same goes for high intensity interval training (HIIT). It can be incorporated into runs, cycling sessions, and floor exercises. Not all will be “do-able” and not all will be enjoyable enough to make a permanent part of your exercise life. This item in Active.com describes a HIIT routine that includes bodyweight (no extra weights used) floor exercises which separately have been prescribed for me at various times, but not all together in one session with the same specific timing requirements. It looks “do-able” to me, but possibly cannot be performed initially at the required pace, or with as many repetitions, or with as much movement.
I’ll try tailoring it to my abilities and level of fitness. That’s one thing I’ve learned: rarely, if ever, can all the exercises in a routine be performed by me as directed for it’s prescribed duration. The first time attempted I almost always must make it easier or stop short of completion. BUT IF mechanically I can confidently perform at least a few repetitions of each move, and IF the moves have previously been incorporated into a routine given by a physical therapist or trainer who tested my abilities, I feel fairly secure it is “safe” for me and will help my running. If I think I can master the exercise relatively quickly I am more likely to enjoy it and work it into a training schedule (not every day but once a week or month) to add variety.
This routine employs the Tabata method, explained in another article in Active.com, which also offers a few other routines besides the 30-minute bodyweight session. I had not heard of this method before. The medical literature contains studies that examined its benefits. One of the most recent, IN THE JOURNAL OF SPORT SCIENCE AND MEDICINE, by researchers C. Foster and C.V. Farland, et al, from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, compared the effects of two different interval protocols with continuous exercise on aerobic and anaerobic capability. “The Effects of High Intensity Interval Training vs Steady State Training on Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity”. In this study 55 “untrained college-aged subjects were randomly assigned to three training groups (3x weekly). “ Nineteen students exercised for 20 MINUTES (moderate intensity, steady state), 21 students completed a Tabata workout (very high intensity, brief intervals) for 4 MINUTES, and 15 performed a Meyer workout (moderate intensity, brief intervals) for 20 MINUTES. All exercised on a cycle ergometer with the pedaling rate controlled by a metronome and all were supervised one-on-one by a researcher.
The reason for the study was to test whether moderate intensity continuous exercise or interval exercise, at very high intensity and at moderate intensity would result in the same improvements in aerobic and anaerobic capacity in people who were NOT trained (simplifies the situation because trained individuals will have variable levels of advanced fitness that might lead to improved test results not related to the type of exercise). HIIT seems to hold promise because the relatively shorter duration of workouts may encourage people to exercise (for example 10-20 minutes versus 60 minutes of continuous exercise) because the results in terms of building fitness could be equal to the longer duration traditional routines. The study also sought to measure how enjoyable the different protocols were over the long-haul, “because even if exercise programs can be constructed in a very effective and time efficient format, if they are not perceived as enjoyable there is little likelihood that the program will be sustained for long enough to achieve reasonable health and fitness outcomes.”
Results: all groups improved significantly in aerobic and anaerobic capacity, but there was no evidence that one group improved significantly more than the others. A loss of exercise enjoyment was greatest in the high intensity group, but there was progressive loss of enjoyment in all groups over time.
Conclusion is best presented in the authors’ words: “in this population of relatively untrained but healthy young adults, our results suggest no particular advantage for very high intensity training models. The observation that the Tabata protocol was less enjoyable is not surprising” (It’s so physically challenging). “The progressive loss of enjoyment across all the protocols suggests that perhaps variety in the type of exercise is as important as the type of exercise per se. Particularly considering that the health benefits of exercise have to be viewed in the context of the likelihood that exercise is continued for several years, not just the weeks of a controlled study. Perhaps, in our quest to find the ‘perfect exercise’ we have missed the more important issue of how to make exercise enjoyable enough to be continued long term.”
So every person must find the ENJOYABLE training plan components that will help them persevere in the achievement of PERSONAL fitness goals. I know some people who THRIVE on a very, very challenging workout; their ability to perform it when others cannot is their best MOTIVATION TO KEEP doing it. In this study the untrained students might not have been as “geeked” about improving their fitness, and did not “enjoy” punishing themselves as much as trained fitness buffs might have!!!
The real conclusion for me is that there are many ways to get into and stay in shape, and new ones always to be discovered. Our fitness needs change over time. Best to try a new routine every so often and see if it will be a perfect fit. It’s also fun to recycle oldie-but-goodie routines. Don’t give up, is the message, and ENJOY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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