many moons ago, while i was a collegiate athlete, i lifted heavy weights because i was trying to perform better on the court…. NOT! of course i wanted to perform better on the court, but the truth is that i lifted heavy weights because my coaches forced me to. i definitely gained plenty of muscle with their weight training program (more than i would have liked to be honest); however i was completely uncomfortable in my own skin, and i did not notice any significant improvements in my game.
these days, i have changed my style of working out to better align with my goals. i traded in my olympic weight training platform, for a new workout partner – my stopwatch – and i have never once looked back. for the majority of the population whose goal is to tone and trim, i can’t recommend adding a stopwatch to your workouts enough.
today, every exercise i do is measured not by the weight of my reps, but by the quantity of reps i complete within a certain period of time.
rather than completing 3 sets of 10 bench press reps, with enough weight that makes me feel that my muscles may snap, i complete 3 sets of push ups for 1 minute each round. i may incorporate a small amount of weight with some exercises, or i may choose to use my body weight as the only resistance; but either way, my goal is to complete as many reps as i possibly can in that one minute time frame. (with proper form of course). for that one minute i am pushing myself to exercise at 80% to 95% of my estimated maximal heart rate. those high exertion periods are counter balanced with equally important recovery periods. i am maxing myself out to exhaustion. i am getting a great work out for both my muscles, and my heart. i am combining weight training, with cardio. and i am burning calories like rapid fire.
this style of working out is known as High Intensity Interval Training, or more commonly referred to as HIIT. According to the American College of Sports Medicine:
HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than traditional workouts, especially after the workout. The post-exercise period is called “EPOC”, which stands for excess postexercise oxygen consumption. This is generally about a 2-hour period after an exercise bout where the body is restoring itself to pre-exercise levels, and thus using more energy. Because of the vigorous contractile nature of HIIT workouts, the EPOC generally tends to be modestly greater, adding about 6 to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure
i undoubtedly push myself more as i see those last few seconds counting down on the clock. every rep is timed. every break is timed. there is no lolly-gagging between sets. there is no time to think about how tired I am, or to get distracted with my list of tasks that are waiting for me at home. every second is on the clock. and when that last second ticks off the clock in my last round, i know i have found success.
this morning, short on time, my stopwatch and i completed a HIIT workout at home. these workouts can be easily modified for individuals of all fitness levels, and any conditions. in this case, my condition was a little thing called WORK, and i didn’t have time to make it to the gym. on the scale of difficulty in HIIT workouts, this would be easy.
this HIIT workout also lends itself to people with joint problems as it is fairly low key. for those with knee issues, the alternating lunge jumps can be replaced with standing lunges. or if those are even too strenuous on the knees (i feel your pain), they can be replaced with side leg lifts.
grab your stopwatch. and get ready to finally achieve the burn and the body you’ve been striving for.