High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Interval training has been shown time and again to be safe and effective and, for trainees who complain about boredom, more enjoyable than conventional, long, slow aerobic training. I won’t bore you with the statistical data, but even people with severe heart disease and advanced metabolic syndrome have showed vast improvements in heart and lung function, blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and a myriad of other markers for health and fitness. This was all accomplished on a regimen of less than 30 minutes of training three days a week.
Basic HIIT Application
You may find that it doesn’t take much to challenge you when you first begin HIIT training. That’s to be expected. You are where you are and rationalizing or making excuses won’t change that. With all exercise, starting with what you can do right now and progressing is the key, and HIIT is no different. Even if you have been working out regularly, you will find HIIT difficult and humbling.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of HIIT, aside from the hard work, is that you are in charge of the intensity. You must be very critical and honest with yourself when creating your program and critiquing your progress. You must monitor how hard you are working and how long you are resting; there are no charts to go by, just how you are feeling during the workouts. This can be problematic if you are not being completely honest about your effort.
You Can’t Argue with Results
Give HIIT a fair test. If you stick with a HIIT protocol for eight weeks, you will achieve an improvement in your fitness and health that will astound you. Every aspect of your life will be positively affected. This type of training has even been shown to improve brain function through increased blood flow and oxygen delivery. Because it is time effective, you won’t need to spend hours pounding away on a treadmill. This will free you up to spend more time with your family on your off days and you will have more time and energy to work on your firefighting skills when at the station. Talk about a “win/win” situation.
Michael Krueger is an NSCA-certified personal trainer. He got his start in fitness training while serving in the United States Coast Guard. He works with firefighters and others in and around Madison, Wisconsin. He is available to fire departments, civic organizations, and athletic teams for training, consulting, and speaking engagements. He has published numerous articles on fitness, health, and the mind-body connection and was a featured speaker at the IAFC’s FRI 2009 Health Day in Dallas, Texas. E-mail him at [email protected].