HIIT Me!

You can’t read an article about fitness today without seeing something about HIIT training. What is it? Is it good for you? Do you have to do it? Lets take a look.

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. Basically it’s the concept that you do shorter periods of work but at a much higher intensity. Then you rest and repeat. There are several protocols to choose from but some common ones include 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest (Tabata Style Training) or 60 seconds of work with 60 seconds of rest. You get the idea. The typical HIIT workout lasts about 30 minutes. The key is that your work periods are at a higher intensity than if you were to just sustain exercise for 45-60 minutes.

HIIT Training – though surging in popularity is not new. It’s been around since the 70’s and has been used by elite athletes for decades. Like many things in fitness, the concept is being recycled with the growing popularity of Cross Fit, Bootcamps, and Small Group Training. The benefits of HIIT Training are real and when compared to longer steady state exercise include:

  1. Shorter, more efficient workouts.
  2. Improved Cardio Vascular Fitness.
  3. 2X Increased VO2 Max (Cardio Vascular Capacity)
  4. Decreased Insulin Resistance which significantly aids in weight loss.
  5. Increased Body Fat Oxidation
  6. Increased Cognitive Function.

Sounds pretty good right?! So the conclusion many fitness experts are coming to is that everyone should be doing HIIT Training. But should they? The benefits are undeniable but there are risks to be considered as well.

Beginners or people just returning to exercise have shown an increased risk of coronary events (heart attack or stroke) due to high intensity exercise. There is also increased risk of musculoskeletal injury due to the intensity of the exercise. All exercisers, new and experienced, should receive physicians approval prior to beginning a HIIT protocol – or any exercise routine for that matter.

One of the factors that is not spoken about often enough is the enjoyment of the exercise. Studies tell us that if we are to achieve long term adherence to any exercise program then we have to enjoy it. One of the risks of HIIT Training is that, due to the difficulty of the training and the discomfort experienced by many exercisers, they just don’t enjoy it. In general most people simply don’t want to work that hard and many beginners who start a HIIT Training routine too soon, simply quit.

So the best recommendations seem to be this: Develop a baseline fitness level and exercise routine. This would include 3-5 sessions per week of 30-60 minutes doing activities you enjoy. Yes it’s important that you elevate your heart rate and include all components of fitness (Strength, Cardio, and Flexibility) but the key in the beginning is to establish routine. It’s easier to do this with activities you enjoy!

Once you have done this and exercise is becoming a regular part of your life, start with one HIIT Session a week. Work up to 2-3. Keep in mind that due to the increased intensity of the work, your recovery time increases as well. Make sure you give your body adequate time to rest in between HIIT workouts (generally 48 hours). Employ some active rest – lower intensity workouts and some actual rest – no workouts!

In a later post we will discuss some of the common HIIT Protocols but for now keep it as a PART of your fitness routine. At The Abs Company we believe that Fitness Changes Lives. It will only change your life if you do it! So find what you enjoy, make it a habit and then experiment with different types of exercise and training routines. Remember – there is no BEST way to train. We are all different, physically and mentally, so you have to find what works for you. We are here to help….. just ask!


Fast Weight Loss?

Intermittent Fasting

This time of year people around the world make resolutions for improvements in their life. Not surprisingly the number one resolution year after year is to lose weight. Studies show that over 24% of New Year’s Resolutions revolve around weight loss. It’s well documented that what we really want is FAT loss which is where the true benefits lie. For the purposes of this article, let us agree on that simple point.

The greater debate revolves around the best way to achieve this fat loss. Some people will tell you it’s exercise as simple as walking. Others will tell you about interval or high intensity training. Many experts will tell you that nutrition is the key and there is no shortage of new diets and diet advice coming out all the time. The reality is that the best recipe for long term health is the combination of diet and exercise. Diet alone doesn’t strengthen your muscles and bones. Exercise doesn't provide your body with the nutrients necessary for health and energy. Therefore it’s obvious that the combination of the two is best.

In this article we will focus on the nutrition side of the equation and the popular topic of Intermittent Fasting. If you are not familiar with the term it simply refers to a pattern of eating that involves periods of feeding and periods of fasting. It is much more about WHEN you eat, not WHAT you eat. It’s not a new concept as humans have been fasting since the dawn of creation. At that time it was often out of necessity because there simply wasn’t food to eat as readily as it is today.

Intermittent Fasting has been studied for years and the benefits are numerable and undeniable. Here are a few key benefits:

  • Increase in Growth Hormone up to 5x. This is beneficial for both fat loss and muscle gain.
  • Decrease in Insulin levels. When insulin is lower the stores of body fat become more accessible for energy. The less times you eat, the less insulin in your system.
  • Fat Loss - because you are taking in less calories your body starts to burn fat. On average people have seen decreases of up to 8%.
  • Increased Metabolism - studies have shown increases of up to 15%
  • Reduced Inflammation - Inflammation is a key driver of many Chronic Diseases.
  • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease - Studies show as reduction in LDL (bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides.
  • Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers
  • Improved Brain Health by increasing certain brain hormones. This may be beneficial in the prevention of Alzheimers Disease

That list of potential benefits is powerful but keep in mind that research is constantly evolving so there will be more evidence to come as the studies become longer and more detailed in Intermittent Fasting. The bottom line is that the benefits come from the reduction in calories. If you eat massive amounts of food during you feeding periods you may not see the benefits. At the end of the day there is still no getting around the simple equation of calories in vs calories out. If you are burning more than you are taking in you lose weight - period.

So if the benefits of Intermittent Fasting sound good, the next question is HOW do you do it? Keep in mind that before starting any new diet or exercise program you should consult with your physician to be sure its appropriate for you. That being said, here are a few of the common protocols.

16/8 Method:

This is the most common protocol for Intermittent Fasting and where it is recommended that most people start. Simply you are eating only 8 hours during the day and fasting for 16. For example If you have your first meal at noon then you would have your last meal by 8PM. If you can’t wait til noon and have your first meal at 10am then your last would be at 6PM. In general you would eat 2-3x during this 8 hour period. You can drink non caloric drinks at any point in the day and this will often satisfy feelings of hunger.

24 Hour Fast.

This approach is a bit more demanding but very effective. As it sounds you are taking complete 24 hours periods where you don’t eat anything at all. So if your last meal is at 8PM on Monday, you don’t eat again until 8PM on Tuesday. It’s challenging to go for this long at first with no food but you do get used to it. Again - non caloric liquids are recommended. The 24 hour fast is particularly beneficial if you know you are going out socially and don’t want to watch your diet at the event. For example if you know you have a party Saturday Night then make your last meal Friday Night so that you can indulge a bit more at the party.

Warrior Diet

This plan has been around since the late 90’s and basically allows for a 4 hour feeding period and 20 hours of fasting. Typically you are eating one large meal each day and perhaps a few small snacks if needed during the 4 hour period. Typically the meal is at the end of the day. The upside of this is that you are typically taking your 1500 -2000 calories in one meal so you have a bit more latitude on what you are eating. In general it should be healthy but but you can binge a bit more here on carbs and possibly even a sweet.

 

There are several more methods of Intermittent Fasting available but the key is that you maintain the periods of eating and fasting. The results are real, both from a fat loss and health perspective. If you think it sounds like something for you give it a shot. Research more and then start with 1-2 days per week on the protocol that fits you and see what you think. There is a little discomfort at first but that is true with any area of improvement. I suspect however that it could become a new way of life for you!


WHY this year will be different

WHY this year will be different...

This time of year there is no shortage of articles around goal setting, motivation, and resolutions. It’s no secret that people who have a plan of action on how to actually achieve the goal they set have a better chance of success than those who don’t. This is true in finance, personal development and of course fitness!

Most people set a blanket goal and leave it at that. “I’m going to get in shape this year.” “I’m going to eat healthy.” These general statements, though well intentioned, give no clear path to success. Those willing to go a bit further and THINK about how they will accomplish these goals not only make the goal more specific but put some daily action steps behind them. For instance they may say “I’m going to get in shape this year and lose 10 pounds by exercising for 30 minutes per day and by bringing a healthy lunch to work each day”. You can clearly see how person 2 will have a greater chance of success. They have some actionable, measurable steps and a definition of what success actually looks like.

When you look at the study of goal achievement however, one thing stands above the rest when it comes to success. That one thing is figuring out the WHY. WHY do you want to accomplish this goal? What is the true motivation? If you can really dig deep and find the WHY, the HOW becomes very clear and you will not lack the motivation to put in the work.

Let’s take our person above who started out just wanting to ‘get in shape’. Then they progressed and made the goal measurable and actionable. They are going to lose 10 pounds by exercising for 30 minutes per day and by bringing a healthy lunch to work each day. Now lets add the WHY. At first they may say they want to feel better. Perhaps they want to look better. Two good reasons but generally they will fade quickly. However, what if they said they wanted to accomplish this goal because they just became a grandparent and want to have the energy and vitality to keep up with their new grandson? That’s a powerful why!

The more powerful your WHY, the more likely you will be able to overcome the feelings of doubt that may set in while trying to achieve your goal. When laziness or procrastination rear their heads, you will remember your why and cast them aside. WHY is an extremely powerful force and one that can help you to crush your goals!

So think about the goals you set for yourself this year. Go back and attach a WHY, and then a HOW. This simple formula will start you down the path:

This year I want to XXXXXXXX.

WHY I want to accomplish this:

HOW I will accomplish this: (List 3 steps)

Once you achieve your goal, go back and do this again for your next goal. The momentum you will create will make you unstoppable! Best of luck and let’s make 2018 the year you truly change your life from the core!