By Cindy Whitmarsh, a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and fitness correspondent for Good Morning San Diego.
The popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”) has surged, and if you haven’t tried it yet now is the time. I just released three new DVDs based on HITT, which I call my Ultra Focused Interval Training (UFIT) program.
What exactly is HIIT? It’s a workout that is meant to push speed, endurance, and strength to the next level. You perform activities at a VERY high intensity for short bursts, or intervals, and you complete multiple sets of these intervals with minimal rest between them. This drives your heart rate up, forcing your body to adapt and accommodate.
Just what do I mean by “adapt”? With HIIT, you’ll burn calories in the moment but you will also increase your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (“EPOC”) which basically means that you’ll continue to burn more calories even long after your workout is over. This can will lead to significant changes in muscle tone and strength, along with a reduction in body fat.
Exercise trends typically come and go but some fitness fads have real staying power. Here are some of the most popular fitness trends from 2013 and a look at what trends we expect to see more of in 2014:
The Best of 2013
1. CrossFit: There’s little doubt that CrossFit dominated the fitness scene in 2013. The number of CrossFit gyms continued to grow exponentially and the numbers of participants registering for that CrossFit Games more than doubled. I predict that CrossFit’s popularity will continue to rise in 2014, despite its (many) critics.
High intensity workouts like CrossFit, Insanity and P90X were a phenomenon this past year and now, according to the American College of Medicine’s Sports Fitness Journal, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is expected to be the top calorie-burning trend of 2014. While the popularity has increased, so have subsequent injuries.
The HIIT workout is one that centers around high intensity exercises immediately followed by a short period of rest or limited activity. For example: A one-minute sprint on the treadmill followed by a 90-second recovery period or jump rope for three minutes followed by a 45-second walking lunge with alternating hand-to-hand kettlebell exchange. Repeat!! Some HIIT workouts can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.
While the variety of exercises and short time commitment can be tempting to those seeking something besides the boring treadmill routine, these workouts aren’t for everyone. We asked certified personal trainer, Jessica Smith, to give her thoughts on the CrossFit craze. “A good, safe fitness program should be scalable to meet the participants’ fitness levels,” she said. “I’ve seen some programs that do that, and others that really can’t adequately offer modifications that meet all participants needs.”
When we think of cardio, running is often the first thing that comes to mind. Running is a great form of exercise, however, it isn’t the right solution for everyone. From beginners who haven’t built a base of strength yet to those with arthritis, high impact movements like running aren’t a good fit.
Cardio, by definition, actually means “from the heart.” Therefore, from an exercise perspective, it is anything that gets your heart rate up. This means there are plenty of low- or no-impact activities you can do to accomplish this goal. Make cardio easier on your knees while still benefiting your heart with these five moves.
Walking is a great form of cardio that we already know how to do, but you have to do it briskly or find a way to push yourself. The heart is a muscle and, like your biceps, gets stronger only with challenge. Make your walk more challenging by increasing the incline on the treadmill or wearing a weighted vest on your outdoor walks.
Dance lets you sweat and de-stress. Have you seen the transformations on Dancing with the Stars? If ballroom isn’t your thing, try a hip-hop or swing class. You can always crank up your favorite tunes and get crazy in your living room. (more…)
When I first heard the name “Orangetheory Fitness,” my mind immediately conjured up images of some kind of old school punk band playing a set in someone’s basement. Boy was I wrong! As it turns out, it’s a rapidly expanding fitness sensation (locations in more than 15 states and 2 Canadian territories) that is taking the continent by storm!
I ventured over to the Naperville, IL location (as I am now a Chicagoland resident) to try out a class to see what it was all about. When I entered I was greeted by a very friendly staff who explained the workings of what was to transpire in class. I was given my own heart rate monitor to wear for the workout to see how hard I’d actually be working.
The workout starts with interval training (which I am a HUGE fan of). The first part consisted of Indo Row machines (rowers with water in them for a real rowing effect) and then switching to the box area where we did various strength training moves. This persisted for about a half hour. At first, I was like “Easy Peasy!,” but by the third time around, I was sweating profusely and was feeling the burn!
The second half of the class had us on the treadmills. We did various lengths of intervals, running and jogging, mixed with recovery walks in between. I felt as though I could run a lot harder and faster because we were doing shorter sprints, rather than long drawn out runs. By the end of the second half, I had clocked more than two miles in sprints! (more…)