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HIT - 3 Minutes per Week?

January 02 2015

HIT - High Intensity Training

New reasearch indicates that the best way to exercise to both lose weight and become healthier is via the ridiculously short 'HIT' Protocol, and not by spending countless hours in the gym or outside jogging etc.

Consider the following 3 snack foods :

3 foods

To burn off the amount of calories in all 3 combined you would need to run almost an entire hour at a good pace (approximately 6 miles/hour). That is a HIGH HIGH price to pay for a 10 minute indlugence and I'm willing to make the assumption that most people will not pay it. The research actually shows that 2/3rds of us won't make the commitment to exercise that much, for that long, consistently.

That leaves eating less as the alternative to losing weight.

So if you can't out-exercise your diet or your indulgences then why bother exercising? If the answer seems to be to simply (or not so simply) eat less then why make any phisical effort at all?

Well, it turns out that there are 2 good reasons why we should exercise. The first is for our health and the second is for weight loss. I know that condradicts what I just said but I will explain a little further down below.

Health Factors

One big health benefit that we get from exercise has to do with our insulin sensitivity and it is measured by how FAST sugar is taken out of our blood and put into our muscles, organs and other tissues. The faster, the better. People who don't exercise take longer to process their blood glucose (sugar) and are at risk for diabetes and all of the complications that come with it (i.e. heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage.)

The next major health benefit of exercise is aerobic fitness which has to do with the amount of oxygen our bodies are able to take in and use. The more, the better. Regular exercise trains your body to better your aerobic fitness and reduces your risk once again of cardiovascular disease.

Improve both and you will live longer and better. The problem, as mentioned above, is that most people have difficulty committing to a regular exercise program. That's where HIT comes in.

HIT - High Intensity Training

Hard Training

Many of the newer studies across North America and the UK all show that the best and most efficient way to gain the benefits described above, AND lose weight, are from doing high intensity training or HIT. With HIT, you only need 1 minute of exercise per day done 3 times per week.

The catch is that that one minute has to be done with incredibly high intensity. It's hard, it burns, BUT, it's also over rather quickly.

A typical HIT workout would have you at the gym or in your basement on an exercise bike. You would warm up with some easy pedaling for about 10 minutes and then you'd pedal AS HARD AS YOU CAN (with the bike set at a very high resistance level) for 20 seconds and then rest a few minutes. Repeat that 2 more times and you are done. The total exercise time is 1 minute but obviously the time to warm up, rest between bursts and shower afterwards will run you more than 1 minute.

After only 6 weeks of HIT, test subjects have shown sharp increases in insulin sensitivity, aerobic fitness AND weight loss. That's after only 18 minutes of exercise!

Weight Loss

You may wonder how so little exercise time can result in measurable weight loss when, time after time, we hear the message telling us that we must burn lots of calories by doing LOTS of exercise. I beg to differ. I am in the camp with those who favor the adaptation model, and if you click on that link you'll see that the idea behind it is that one must really shake things up for the body to change, and settle on a new point of homeostasis.

Three minutes per week sounds easy but the HIT Protocal is pretty taxing. It also doesn't give you the endorphine high that moderate cardio does, nor does it give you the nice 'pump' that weights do. The trade off though, is that it is over pretty quickly, and that might be enough for some people to be encouraged to try and to stick to this program and receive the wonderful benefits it brings.

For those who cannot see themselves doing this or who are unable to because of a pre-existing medical condition, there is still good news. Studies also show that a brisk walk for 1 hour or more daily, gives some of the benefits above, but to a lesser degree. A 1 hour walk will also reduce the amount of fat circulating in your blood - this means there will be less available to clog up your arteries and build up around your organs, reducing your overall chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

The key is to find 'something' that you think you can do for the long term. I talked about the tenets of dieting but they also apply to exercise as well.

Recommended Reading

Other forms of HIT-type exercises you can do include; running uphill, all out sprinting, pulling a weighted sled, swim sprints and modified, high intensity weight training.

To your health.

- Peter