Everybody on the planet knows full well that exercise is damn good for them. But for some reason, they consistently fail to do enough of it.
Now don’t get me wrong – I certainly appreciate that life can get in the way. Things get busy, time becomes limited, and exercise is often (and unfortunately) the first thing to go.
But to be completely honest, this isn’t really good enough.
You owe it to yourself to keep active.
Exercising on the regular staves off disease, improves your cognition and brain health, and helps you manage your weight. It even ensures that you can function at a high level well into your golden years (whenever they may be).
In short, exercise is a must.
So the key question isn’t ‘should I exercise?’ but rather, ‘how can I get the benefits of exercise, with the smallest possible time commitment?’
Enter high intensity interval training (or HIIT, for short)
What is HIIT?
HIIT is a type of exercise that revolves around performing short periods of intense exercise, alternating with low intensity recovery periods.
Pretty simple really.
A HIIT session might have you on the rower for 30 seconds at a near maximal intensity, and then 60 seconds at a very low intensity. This protocol would then be repeated for a total of 10 or 20 minutes, giving you a solid workout in the process.
Just to be clear – these higher intensity periods are pretty tough. In fact, they have you working much harder than you would be if you chose to go for a long jog.
But that’s kind of the point.
Because you are working harder than you would under normal circumstances, a single HIIT session requires less time. So much so, that a typical HIIT session will only last about one third of the time of a traditional ‘low-intensity’ training session, and give you as much (if not more) benefit.
HIIT = lots of bang for your buck.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
As I have already alluded to above, HIIT offers you a myriad of benefits.
Firstly, it increases your energy expenditure during the session, and after the session is finished. This means it really helps with weight management.
It also helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar, and improve cardiovascular and metabolic health. This is important, as it lowers your chance of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes – two of the most common chronic diseases in modern society.
HIIT also impacts mental health.
A single HIIT session improves mood, and reduces stress and anxiety. Moreover, regular HIIT prevents against the onset of depression and anxiety.
Last but not least, HIIT causes vast improvement in fitness, and in a very short amount of time. It is even more effective than more traditional forms of aerobic exercise . This means that if you want to get as fit as possible as quickly as possible, then this is a good place to start.
So, in summary, heaps of benefit with minimal time commitment.
How can I do HIIT?
You know that HIIT offers a very simple way of getting all the benefits of exercise, and in a very short amount of time. Now I want to touch on how you can implement it.
With this in mind, I have outlined a few of my favorite HIIT protocols below. You can simply select one of these, pick your favorite mode of exercise (whether it be running, on the bike, or on the rower), and go for barney!
Protocol 1: 30 seconds at 75% maximal speed, followed by 30 seconds are 40% maximal speed, for a duration of 8 minutes. Rest for 4 minutes, and then repeat once more.
Protocol 2: 15 seconds at 90% maximal speed, followed by 15 seconds completely stationary, for a duration of 8 minutes. Rest for 4 minutes, and then repeat once more.
Protocol 3 60 seconds at 75% maximal speed, followed by 120 seconds are 50% maximal speed, for a duration of 24 minutes.
Protocol 4: 30 seconds at 85% maximal speed, followed by 60 seconds are 40% maximal speed, for a duration of 24 minutes.
I should also touch on the fact that HIIT is quite demanding. Because of this, it really only needs to be completed 1-2 times per week.
Obviously you are more than welcome to perform other types of exercise around this (in fact, I would encourage it). As such, it makes the perfect supplement to your weight training sessions, and any longer duration aerobic activity that you might choose to do.
Take Home Message
HIIT offers a really simple way you can get some effective exercise into your routine, in the shortest amount of time possible. With this comes a number of potent health and fitness benefits, that may even outweigh those seen with traditional endurance training.
So give some of the protocols listed in this article a go and get back to us – we would love to hear how you went!
Did you know that 99.9% of all new years resolutions fail within the first 9 days?
OK, so I made that up.
I don’t know the exact statistic, and I really couldn’t be bothered trawling through the ABS website trying to find it, but I don’t doubt that this number is too far from the truth.
An incredible number of people make new years resolutions come the turn of January, every single year.
They swear they will finally start eating better, finally lose those 10kgs, and finally get ready to run that marathon – and they start like a bull out of a gate.
Until it simply just peters out.
They run out of steam.
Their five runs a week quickly turn into three, and then one, and then they just stop completely.
All that healthy meal prep becomes too much of a hassle, and boy oh boy does that Zambrero’s look damngood right now.
But there is always next year, right?
Cant wait to fail all over again…
Why your resolutions fail?
So, why do most new years resolutions fail?
In my humble opinion, those people who fail simply bite off more than they can chew.
They essentially try and turn their entire life around the space of a few days.
Really, is it any wonder that it all falls apart?
Building healthy habits take a unique combination of time and willpower – both of which are, in my personal opinion, finite resources.
As soon as you exhaust your supply of either one, well, you can say adios to your resolution.
What can you do about it?
The key to making your new years resolution actually stick comes down to making simple lifestyle changes that are not only easy to implement (and therefore require minimal willpower), but also offer a whole lot of bang for your buck.
Target the low hanging fruit, if you will.
For example, if your goal does happen to be something weight loss related, then its probably not in your best interest to try and completely overhaul your entire diet.
Because, ultimately, you will fail.
A much better approach would be to focus on those areas where you constantly fall down, and then aim to correct them.
If you often snack on sweets after dinner, throw out your sweets (willpower is no longer an issue).
If you struggle eat enough protein, have a protein shake before dinner (easy and effective).
And if you find yourself without the time required to prepare your food during the week? Prepare your meals in advance (zero effort during the week).
Each of these with have a very large impact on your diet, and honestly do not require all that much effort or willpower.
From an exercise perspective, what if you find that you want to actually start an exercise program and work towards a training goal? Then make sure to start small.
Don’t try and go for a run every day, because again, you will fail.
Try commencing you new routine with one session per week. Adhere to this for a month, and then slowly add in a second.
Make it habitual, and make it easy.
One run per week for an entire year is going to have much more impact than getting in five runs in a single week once per year.
Makes sense, right?
Of course, if you are after any help (or even some simple ideas) drop us a comment and we will endeavor to get back to you as quickly as possible so that we can give you hand.
With Christmas around the corner, we are entering a period of overwhelming enjoyment.
Days off work, weekends that are filled with staff shows and family functions, and of course lunches and dinners with friends.
How good is it?
But, as always, there is a small negative associated.
Namely the fact that we have a tendency to go absolutely crazy across the entire Christmas period, throwing caution to the wind, and eating our weight in goodies.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that a bad meal isn’t going to derail your progress.
A single piece of fruit isn’t going to make you skinny, and a single donut isn’t going to make you fat. As we all know, it is the accumulation of good habits that keeps us healthy, while alternatively, its the accumulation of not so good habits that makes us unhealthy.
However, despite knowing this full well, we as humans seem to love a good blowout.
I’ll use myself as an example.
The Cadbury Effect
I am a sucker for chocolate.
I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and to be completely honest, chocolate is my proverbial kryptonite.
Interestingly, my wife and I could have an unopened block of chocolate in the fridge for the better part of a year, and I wont touch the thing. However, if we were to open it, I can guarantee that it will be gone within the hour.
Now, I realize that this doesn’t really make sense, but the reason I do this is to get rid of it.
Somewhere in the depth of my subconscious, I think to myself: ‘stuff it, I’ve already blown it, I might as well eat the whole thing‘.
We know it doesn’t make sense, but we still do it every damn time.
Not just for chocolate either (which is still not great) – we as humans have a tendency to do it for absolutely everything.
Even things that last for days or weeks at a time…
The Christmas Blowout
When it comes to Christmas, things can go downhill pretty fast.
A bad afternoon can easily turn into a very bad weekend. And that weekend can very easily roll into an extremely bad week.
All of which comes down to that same mindset.
“Welp, Ive blown it – ill get back on track after new years…”
Extremely common, and extremely stupid.
All in all I completely understand where we are coming from, but that doesn’t make this mindset any less flawed.
We know that one single afternoon of eating and drinking isn’t going to derail a years worth of progress.
Hell, outside of a little bit of bloating and a potential stomach ache, the likelihood of this single night doing any lasting damage is pretty slim.
But two weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry?
That’s when the damage starts to accumulate.
Diet Damage Control
So in my mind, diet damage control over Christmas comes down to mindset.
Take a step back and realize that a single meal isn’t going to derail all of your hard work and progress.
Enjoy that meal as much as humanly possible. Be social, drink, and be happy.
But don’t let it become a two week binge.
Keep physically active (as normal) over the Christmas period.
Eat as you normally would outside of those key social situations.
Its a bit of an interesting question, and one I have found myself thinking about quite a lot of late. Which funnily enough, all started with a podcast.
I was always somewhat resistant to the rising popularity of podcasts. But over time I have found them to be pretty interesting. A good way to find out about topics that I wouldn’t normally explore without the input of someone else.
A good way to learn about different ways of thinking, and different areas of health.
Ultimately a different way to learn, I guess.
Anyway, to get back on track, I was listening to a podcast that featured a health professional by the name of Paul Chek.
While a number of Paul Chek’s methods are somewhat controversial, during this podcast he made a statement that really resonated with me.
“At some point in your life, your health will become your highest priority – its just a matter of when”
Its Just A Matter of When
I realized that this was entirely true.
There will undoubtedly reach a time in your life when your own health will rise to the top of your list of priorities.
No questions asked.
For me, it was when I decided I no longer wanted to be a skinny teenager. I wanted to build muscle, and to put it somewhat bluntly, look good naked.
A little bit vain? Maybe? But that was what prompted me to pay attention to what I put in my mouth and to start exercising regularly.
Its really what led me to where I am today.
I know many other people who have had a similar singular moment, albeit under slightly different circumstances.
I know people who have suddenly found themselves 10kgs heavier than they were on their wedding day. They might have realized that they have let themselves go. That they need to make a change before things get ‘too bad’ (so to speak).
I know people who have repeatedly gotten injured throughout their sporting careers.
They never managed to string more than a few games together before being forced into another extended layoff. These people started to take the health of their body seriously to ensure that they could keep playing sport pain free for as long as they could.
And I also know people who waited until it was almost too late.
People who got some nasty news from the doctor. They might have found out that they have been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe cardiovascular disease. Maye they tried to get out of bed one morning and realized that they literally cannot stand up unassisted. Or that they can no longer climb the stairs without hanging off the hand rail.
Or maybe they just had their first grandchild?
And they have come to the stark realization that they want to be there for them for as a long as they can…
Somewhat depressing to think about, I agree.
But it does happen, and all too often at that.
Become Health Focused
Something that really stands out to me in regards to the above scenarios is that the earlier you decide to become health focused, the greater the impact it will have on your life.
If you start eating well and strength training as a skinny teen, you will build healthy habits that will last you a lifetime. You will maintain function indefinitely. Your risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes will be significantly reduced.
Obesity? Not a problem.
In short, you will live a long and happy life.
But what if you start much, much, later in life? If you are already riddled with disease.
The realization that if you don’t do something soon things will go downhill fast, has already hit home?
While I would be the first to say that it is undoubtedly better to start late than never, I would also be inclined to suggest that the benefits you see will be markedly less the later you start.
Most of your time will be spent reversing the damage that a life of sedentary activity has done to your body. The damage that a life of poor eating, weight gain, and lack of use, has done to your body.
Rather than improving function and maximizing health.
Again, this doesn’t mean that it is by any means a waste of time.
Hell, it will probably get you as few extra years on this amazing planet we call home.
But when I think about how I want to end my life on this planet, I certainly don’t want to be bedridden and incapacitated. I don’t want to be struggling to keep going on a daily basis. I want to be walking, running, and lifting, every single day. I want to end it on my terms, with thousands of independent and activity filled days behind me.
And I honestly believe I will, because I have made my health a priority before it was too late.
My Father-in-law absolutely loves wine. As long as it is a big, smooth Barossa Shiraz. I on the other hand like a bit of diversity- a cold, crisp Riesling on a hot summer’s day; a big brooding Cabernet on a cold wintry night; a Pinot, well, there are a lot of contexts where Pinot is appealing! It is much the same with running for me. Some people like to do the same 5km Park Run every week. Great! I however like to run in lot’s of different ways and contexts. So here are my top 5 types of run and where I enjoy doing them the most.
5: Flat Road Running
A long, straight, flat stretch of tarmac in front of me. Feet tapping away with the consistency of a metronome. Breathing in an easy rhythm- every 3rd foot strike. Mind clear, basically meditating. Km’s ticking away without really noticing. This is running relaxation.
Where I do it: The Riverland; Yorke Peninsula (Around Port Broughton or Ardrossan).
From a crouched starting point, then accelerating up to top speed. Driving the knees forward, ripping the elbows back. Completely releasing the brakes. I am sure it feels more impressive than it looks, but in my mind I am flying. The lungs start to bite which is the cue to take the foot off the the accelerator. My legs gradually wind down. I let myself recover, then go again.
Where I do it: Balhannah Footy Oval; Amy Gillett Bikeway
Yes I am serious, I love running uphill. As I approach the incline my mindset shifts. This hill will be like a big meal- just take your time with it and take it one mouthful at a time. I lean forward, focus on pulling my knees through, and get into a nice easy rhythm. I imagine the little engine that could; chug-chugging it’s way up the winding track. The revs are oscillating close to, but always under the red-line until the crest is spotted, then comes an acceleration. Relief as the gradient plateaus.
Where I do it: The (Old) South Eastern Freeway; ‘The Guts’ Track at Fox Creek.
I love narrow, rocky trails. If there is a steep drop-off on one side, excellent. Creek crossing, boulder hopping, ducking under low branches. It can be more like an obstacle course than a run. Agility and power are required to negotiate what the trails offers. One minute I am scampering up tight switch backs; next I am weaving down the other side like a slalom skier. This is an extreme sport!
Where I do it: Sturt Gorge; Morialta
1: Beach Running
This is running stripped (almost!) completely back. Barefoot, wearing just shorts and a hat. Along the shore line, the waves are the soundtrack. Always on a hot day. When the heat gets a bit much the hat gets chucked to one side and in the ocean I go. The first beach run of the summer results in blistered feet and sore calves- but both toughen up pretty quick. For me beach running is heaven.
Where I do it: Normanville to Carrickalinga; Aldinga Beach
I hope to see you out at one of my favourite spots!
We all love to head away on holidays. My idea of a holiday may be quite different to someone else’s idea of a perfect getaway. Where some people like to unwind and relax on a European river cruise sipping Champagne and reading a good book, others may prefer a tropical beach holiday where they spend time swimming or meandering through the local markets. Many are more adventurous too. I myself like to get up and about, explore and be a little adventurous. If there is a good scenic hike to the top of a mountain on offer, I’ll probably do it. Regardless of the activities on the holiday there is still one thing that remains constant. There is a need to get fit for travel.
Why do you need to be fit for travel?
I think you would all agree that the last thing you want to do is injure yourself while on holiday or worse yet, before you even get to your destination. Travelling can inherently be stressful on the body in a number of ways. Physically, you are likely to have baggage to be lugging around to airports and hotels. You may want to get your carry-on baggage up into the overhead compartments on the plane and then back down again upon arrival. Take care because we all know your baggage may have moved during the flight! Most holidays do also end up involving a degree of exploration on foot to have a look at the sights and often just to get from place to place. All of these seemingly simple tasks still require a degree of strength and mobility.
Moving away from tasks that need physical strength, let’s talk a little about physical health! A lack of physical health could lead to an increased chance of a cardiac event whilst overseas, that’s a real buzz kill! That’s looking worst case. On a lower level it may just be an inability to walk from place to place due to breathlessness or achy joints. Still a bit of a downer during a holiday.
If you are planning a more adventurous holiday, such as a multi-day trek in Nepal or a ski trip then this need for an appropriate fitness base is even greater. Essentially, you want to be sure that you have prepared yourself for the likely rigors of your holidays, regardless of the intended intensity.
How do you get fit for travel?
It’s not as hard as you may first think. If you are coming from a place of very little fitness, consider starting with small walks that challenge you slightly. This will start to build up some cardiovascular fitness and a base level of strength. Have a read of this blog, Strength Training for Walking to see how strength training could help you. As the walks become easier, you can start to increase the intensity over time. I would strongly advise some professional advice into strength work that will help build both lower and upper body strength. This will help you achieve all of the routine holiday tasks easily. If you happen to be embarking on an a more adventurous holiday, it is best to get some tailored advice for your individual needs. You will want to be doing more to increase strength and endurance.
Whether you are starting from scratch or need something more advanced, this is an area iNform Health and Fitness Solutions specialises in. We want you to get the most out of your travelling so come and visit us for some quality advice.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Get fit for travel so that you can climb to the top of every lookout and see all that there is to see.