While on my way to work yesterday, I heard a Montreal Doctor talking on a local radio show about interval training. The discussion was about whether working harder for shorter intervals, is better than working at a moderate intensity for a longer period of time.
I decided to weigh in on the issue because I have had some questions regarding this type of training from my students. A few would like to see it offered at our gym. For the record, I work with clients whose average age is 68 years old. My students are very fit.
Interval training involves working as hard as you can for 2 minutes ( the timed intervals vary ) and then recovering for a short period of time before giving it your all again. The key to achieving any benefit from this type of training is your ability to give each interval your best effort. It is an excellent way to improve the cardio component of your workout.
The question is, is it for you?
If you have a heart condition it can be dangerous to push yourself to your absolute limit. You have to tell your doctor what you want to do and get clearance ahead of time. Pushing people to their limit involves risk. My advice it to make sure that you are in good physical condition beforehand.
If you have joint issues such as bad knees, back, shoulder or neck, my primary concern with interval training is that you must be mindful of your posture throughout the workout. Often when we are training fast, our posture begins to get sloppy and we can get injured easily. Keep the intervals simple, safe and watch your posture as you begin to tire out.
I hesitate to call interval training the best exercise because in my opinion the best training for you, is the one that you enjoy and the one that will get you to the gym regularly. Some people hate interval training so even if it was the best exercise, they would not do it but they would walk on a treadmill or lift weights.
There is no quick fix, perfect exercise or diet. If you want do interval training attend a reputable class, with a qualified instructor, or hire a trainer to work with you privately on intervals that are safe for you. The key to an effective workout regime is variety, so adding interval training is a great way to break out of your routine!
The answer to the question of why I am not currently teaching HIIT in a group class environment is simple. Most of the clients I see on a daily basis have postural imbalances, joint problems or blood pressure issues even though they are fit. I do not want to add speed to the workout because it may compound the problems that many of us are already facing. So instead I focus on providing a balanced approach to all of the components of fitness, within each class.
The great thing about joining a fitness facility is that you can try a variety of classes to find your own favorite way to burn calories.