Key to High Intensity Interval Training found outside comfort zone

Mon Feb 2, 2015 8:11am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which consists of short bursts of intensive activity followed by short periods of recovery, fitness experts say the harder the push, the greater the reward.

HIIT can blast calories, build muscle and boost endurance with impressive efficiency in just 20 minutes a day, but the catch is finding the right level of intensity outside the comfort zone, fitness trainers say.

Sean Bartram, author of the book "High Intensity Interval Training for Women," said to find that level people should think about what it is like being chased by a rabid dog.

"It's just below that," he said. "To gain maximum benefits you have to push your body to a place that's almost uncomfortable."

The American College of Sports Medicine predicts HIIT will be a top fitness trend in 2015. Bartram said people are drawn to it for its efficiency and almost endless variety of exercises.

The bursts can be sprinting or spot jumps and the recovery can be rests or slower paced movements, he explained.

"You could alternate 30 seconds of sprinting with 30 seconds of walking, or you could engage in a series of bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, doing each for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between," he said.

Dr. Michele Olson, a professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama, said it's not high intensity unless the heart rate is elevated to near 90-plus percentage of its maximum.   Continued...

A woman is seen jogging at Cunningham Park in the borough of Queens in New York in this file photo taken on September 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton