Sunday, September 22, 2019

Cheat Sheet: HIIT & When To Eat

 Are you planning to start doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and you're curious about how to handle the nutrition and eating aspect? Or maybe you already have a HIIT routine and you think your diet might be hindering your results?

Either way, you're probably wondering how you can boost your nutrition to maximize the benefits you get from your training. Knowing when to eat and what nutrition to focus on can make a huge difference.

Here are the tips to maximize your health benefits during HIIT.

Know Your Goals

A HIIT routine can help you keep your heart rate high and burn fat more quickly than longer steady-state workouts. A HIIT routine can boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours after you stop working out.

The reason this style of exercise is so popular is that many people are very pressed for time. HIIT can allow you to get great results in a very short amount of time.

Like many workouts, though, you have to eat right in order get results. The goals of HIIT involve cardio workouts and fat-burning, so you’ll need to eat in a way that supports those aims. Your pre- and post-workout food will be middle to high in carbohydrates and will also include some protein.

Here’s how to set up a successful HIIT eating plan.

Pre-Workout Nutrition

Unless you love being sick, you should not eat directly before a HIIT workout. Your body won’t have time to absorb the food and nutrition before you exercise, and you won’t get the benefit you’re looking for.

Whether you do your HIIT routine in the morning or later in the day, you’ll need to plan your pre-workout eating plan. The best idea is to eat a carb and protein meal or snack an hour or so before your workout.

Ideas for this pre-workout nutrition include:
  • Peanut butter and crackers or toast
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Yogurt with granola
  • Nuts and raisins

If you feel light-headed or lethargic during your HIIT workout, your body is telling you that you don’t have enough carbs and energy for it to draw on. Continue to work on your eating schedule until you feel strong and are able to work out intensely the whole time.

Post-Workout Meals

After you do a HIIT routine, your body needs to replenish. Your body used a lot of glycogen to keep you going during that intense workout, and now it’s time to recover.

You need to recover in both your muscles and your energy, so once again you should mix carbs with protein. Many people like to eat a small protein snack within 20 minutes of finishing the workout, and then eat a full meal with complex carbohydrates a few hours later.

You can enjoy a protein shake, eggs, meat, or other high-protein food shortly after the HIIT routine. Don’t let the day’s busyness cause you to forget to eat your full meal, though!

Some complex carbs and protein you can use include:
  • Chicken and rice
  • Multigrain bread with lean meat and fresh fruit
  • Cereal with soy milk and fruit
  • Whole-wheat crackers with fruit and cheese

Having a full meal a few hours after your workout will help you keep your metabolism high and keep your energy up as you move through your day. If you skip your post-workout food, you’ll experience fatigue, soreness, and low blood sugar.

Support HIIT With Overall Nutrition

You probably realize that you need to support your workout routine with overall good health. Taking care of your body in ways that reduce fat, maintain energy, build muscle, and more is a 24/7 endeavor.

The best way to eat is with a well-rounded diet that takes advantage of all the recommended food groups. You can focus on lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

It’s important not to eliminate any food groups or follow eating fads if you want to practice HIIT in a healthy way. Your body needs all kinds of nutrient, including carbs and protein, in order to function in a high-intensity workout.

If you don’t have enough fuel in your body, you will unfortunately end up burning muscle instead. That will undo all the hard work you’re putting in to reach your goals. Be sure that all of your meals and snacks help support your goals and provide your body with enough energy to support your health.

Stay Hydrated!

Another mistake a lot of people make when they are pursuing a HIIT routine is that they don’t drink enough water. During your workout, be sure you take drink between your sets. You don’t want to drink so much you feel ill, but you need water to keep going.

If you don’t drink enough water, you’ll feel fatigue, muscle cramping, and you can also be contributing to muscle breakdown. Considering you’re trying to get stronger, that’s very counterproductive.

Remember that your muscles are 75% water, and water also helps cushion vital organs in your body. You can’t afford to wait until you’re thirsty. Drink water before, during, and after your workout.

Make Nutrition Part of Your HIIT Commitment

The whole purpose of HIIT or any other workout program is to make your body healthier. You simply can’t do that if you don’t have the right eating schedule and nutrition to go with it.

If you think that not eating will boost your HIIT burn, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. What you’ll experience instead is fatigue, muscle loss, and a foggy mind. Low blood sugar can cause dizziness and disorientation.

When you eat properly surrounding your HIIT workout, you'll avoid unnecessary injuries as well. Unfortunately, those who don't rebuild their muscles properly with nutrition find that they have more pulls and strains.

Your body works really hard for you. Be sure that you take good care of it. Eat regularly, and be sure your meals include plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables. Drink a lot of water, both during your workout and throughout the day.

Your HIIT workouts can make a big difference in your life if you combine them with great eating habits.

If you're getting started with HIIT, be sure to check out Sprinterval.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Everything You Need to Know about HIIT Workouts During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, it’s normal to make dramatic changes in your health and life in general. You might sleep more (or try to at least), eat healthier, reduce your caffeine, and try to stay fit during your pregnancy.

If you’re used to HIIT (high-intensity interval training), you might think that you have to change your entire workout plan because of your pregnancy. This is not entirely true, and HIIT can actually be an excellent way for you to maintain your health and fitness while you’re pregnant.

The key thing to remember is that you might have to modify your workouts, but you don’t have to eliminate them. Of course, it’s always important to seek counsel from your doctor before engaging in any HIIT.

Benefits of HIIT Workouts During Pregnancy

It’s no secret that HIIT is a great way to maintain a healthy weight and build lean muscle mass. This stands true during your pregnancy, as well. With the right modifications, HIIT is great for you and your baby.

1. Strengthen your back to reduce pain and aches: Carrying a baby bump all the time does a number on your back and pelvis, which can lead to severe aches and pains. Building muscle in your lower body and back is a great way to reduce the amount of pain you feel throughout your pregnancy.

2. Helps reduce constipation: One common issue that many women face during pregnancy is severe constipation. Getting moving and staying active right from the beginning will help increase your metabolism and help your digestive system flow smoothly.

3. Reduce fatigue: It’s no secret that regular exercise, paired with a proper diet helps you feel more energetic. It can be easy to give yourself a pass because of your pregnancy, but you are in complete control. HIIT on a regular basis will help you stay active and maintain a high level of energy throughout the day.

4. Promotes healthy weight gain: It’s normal to gain weight during your pregnancy but utilizing a regular exercise regimen is a great way to ensure that you bounce right back to your normal self after giving birth. HIIT creates an “after-burn.” This means you burn calories for 48 hours after your workout is over. This will help you to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight without any extra pounds.

5. Reduce anxiety and depression symptoms: It’s normal to feel emotional or even depressed during your pregnancy. It’s important to have distractions and anything that can take your mind off things for a while. Getting the blood pumping and the heart going is a great way to get the endorphins flying, which will help you feel happier and more relaxed.

6. Prepares your body for labor: People who exercise regularly generally have better breathing habits which will help with labor.

Modify Your HIIT Workouts Based on Your Trimester

As we said, you don’t have to stop your HIIT workouts completely, and now you understand a lot of the great benefits working out can have on your body. It’s important to listen to your body and let it tell you what you can do. Regardless of how your pregnancy goes, at some point, you will have to modify your workouts to accommodate your baby. Here are some tips based on which trimester you’re in.

First Trimester

During the first trimester, most women will not have to modify their workouts at all as long as they are already used to HIIT. Now would not be the time to start up a new HIIT if this is something you’ve never done before.

Either way, you still want to listen to your body and let it tell you what to do. During this stage of pregnancy, a lot of women might feel lethargic and nauseous so HIIT might not be the best workout for everyone.

Second Trimester

During the second trimester, you’ll start to experience some discomfort performing exercises you normally would have no problem with. At this stage, you don’t want to spend any time laying horizontal, and you don’t want to jump around at all. Now is when you should start modifying your HIIT to meet your needs. Here are some examples:

Instead of regular burpees, perform them at an incline to put less pressure on your back
Since you’re already carrying extra weight, use lighter weights during lunges and curls
Don’t jump when doing box jumps, step up one foot at a time, and use your baby bump as your resistance.

Third Trimester

Now is when it’s time to listen to your body and do what it tells you. At this stage of the pregnancy, your belly is its largest, and you are likely struggling to stay balanced. At this stage you also release a hormone called Relaxin, this loosens up ligaments in the pelvis to help with the birth.

This factor will make it easier for you to pull a muscle if you exercise too hard. You want to consider the modifications we suggested and go at a pace that you feel most comfortable with.

Possible Risks and HIIT Workouts to Avoid During Pregnancy

We’ve touched on it a little, but there are precise movements you want to avoid with HIIT during pregnancy. You should not jump, shake, twist, or quickly change direction. These movements will increase the strain on your joints and possibly cause injury.

If you want to continue working with an instructor or class, make sure you make the trainers and your other group members aware of your pregnancy. Take water breaks whenever you feel you need them, don’t wait for a break.

Make sure you focus on your breathing during all of your exercises. Your baby needs plenty of oxygen, so you want to emphasize that.

Lastly, listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel right, even once, don’t do it again. It’s great that you want to keep up a high level of fitness and health during your pregnancy, but it’s also essential that you keep yourself and that precious baby safe. 

Thinking of getting into HIIT, but not sure where to start? Sprinterval is an introductory HIIT program using sprints that works like Couch-2-5k.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Truth About HIIT Workouts vs Running

Have you been looking for a way to accelerate your weight loss and improve muscle tone? Then this may be the most important article you read all year.

You see, one of the most beneficial workouts that people neglect to do is HIIT (high-intensity interval training). But it turns out that HIIT workouts not only burn more fat faster. They also increase your speed, improve your health, and define your muscles.

And they do all of this better than long distance running or jogging.
Curious about how HIIT works? Read on to find out more about the benefits…

HIIT workouts help you lose more weight

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 22.9 percent of adults in the US get enough exercise. CDC guidelines suggest that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get 75 minutes of “vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity” per week or 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity.”

The truth is a little different though. The type of activity you do actually matters more than the number of minutes you clock.

Fitness experts say that you only need 15 to 30 minutes per week of HIIT to accelerate fat loss. When you do HIIT, you perform aerobic exercise at close to your maximum intensity level for just a few minutes, and then you slow down to a moderate walking speed for a break. You then do another interval of all-out effort. Each high-intensity interval is called a sprint.

These short intervals of high-intensity exercise send signals to your cells to burn fat in order to have enough energy for the intensity level. Long bouts of running, on the other hand, signal to your body to hang on to fat deposits in order to not run out of energy for the long exertion ahead.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the CDC has it all wrong. Humans need lots of physical activity. And when you're not sprinting, moderate-intensity walking (or similar activities like casual swimming, cycling, or dancing) should be a daily occurrence.

How do you know if you’re working hard enough for your exercise to be considered HIIT? Your heart rate should reach 80 to 90 percent of your max. But if you don’t want to mess with measurements, you should make sure that you aren’t able to carry on a conversation during the workout. This is not a brisk walk while you chat.

Sprinting also causes you to work anaerobically, meaning your muscles are not getting fully fueled by oxygen. That leads to the afterburn effect, also called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. That sounds complicated, but what it means for your weight loss is that you continue burning calories even after you have stopped working out. The afterburn effect occurs because your body is still recovering from the high-intensity exercise.

Moderate intensity exercise, like a casual jog, does not cause the afterburn effect, so you don’t burn more calories after the workout is over.

Sprint intervals increase running speed

When we talk about running and fitness, we often think about marathons and endurance. But long-distance running doesn't necessarily make you faster. Even if you are training for a marathon, incorporating HIIT workouts can help you increase your speed.

Part of the reason that HIIT increases speed is that it builds muscle faster than long-distance running. When you sprint, you engage the large muscle groups in your lower body in order to create that burst of speed. The more those muscles are trained, the bigger burst of speed and energy they can release.

Because sprinting increases mitochondrial function, it actually improves performance for long distance runners and cyclists, as well as sprinters. Of course you’ll need to continue training at long distances, but sprints will improve your overall athletic ability for running and cycling. It makes you more powerful and makes your energy expenditure more efficient.

So if you’re planning to train for a marathon, incorporating shorter sprinting sessions into your training can improve your overall performance.

HIIT is better for your health and body

A study in the November 2018 issue of American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology revealed that 20 minutes of sprint intervals (in which only 2 minutes were spent sprinting for 30 seconds at a time, and the remaining 18 minutes were 4.5 minute recovery periods) improved mitochondrial function just as well as 30 minutes of moderate exercise with no breaks.

They basically showed that you can get the same results with 2 minutes of full effort as you could spending an entire 30 minutes jogging.

If you’re wondering how HIIT could be better for your heart than long bouts of aerobic exercise, remember that your heart is a muscle. How do you build muscle? You increase the intensity of the exercise by adding more weight or using bursts of energy, as in plyometric exercises. The heart-health equivalent is to add more intensity through speed.

In addition to improving mitochondrial function and heart health, HIIT workouts help you better regulate blood sugar levels by lowering insulin resistance. Better insulin resistance reduces your chance of developing diabetes.

Another health benefit is improved oxygen efficiency. And that’s not just a benefit to your muscles and lungs. Your brain also benefits from receiving more oxygen. In fact, HIIT has been shown to improve learning, memory, and mood regulation.

And sprinting increases muscle mass, something that long-distance running does not help with much. In fact, the bursts of energy used to sprint build up muscle similar to the way plyometric exercises do. So if you are looking for an exercise that improves your physical appearance by creating muscle definition, HIIT can do that, too.

If you're ready to benefit from high-intensity interval training, it's easy to add to your routine. You can use any kind of aerobic activity to do HIIT. So start with whatever exercises you already like to do.

The most basic form of sprinting is to run in short bursts. But you can also do HIIT by cycling, swimming, jumping rope, dancing, doing push-ups or squats, or doing burpees. You can pick whatever activity you like as long as it gets your heart rate up.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

How HIIT Keeps You Young

Let’s get real - everyone wants to stave off the aging process as long as possible and tap into the fountain of youth. But before you reach for the botox and start guzzling green juice, consider taking up HIIT.

HIIT or high-intensity interval training has been proven to help turn back the clock and boasts a whole range of other health benefits, too. Whether you are looking to slow down the aging process mentally or physically, HIIT workouts are fast becoming a favorite among the 50+ set to keep themselves looking and feeling young.

Read on as we take a look at the rise in popularity of this new workout craze, explain what it is and how it can help you turn back the clock.

What is HIIT?

High-Intensity Interval Training is no new thing, but the booming health and fitness industry has seen this form of exercise explode in popularity. Another factor contributing to HIIT’s success is the rise of fitness chains promoting HIIT based workouts, think Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory, F45, and SoulCycle.

Far from being limited to one workout, HIIT is essentially any form of exercise that combines bouts of intense physical activity with rest periods - essentially pushing the body to the limit, resting and repeating. HIIT workouts can take many forms, including weight and endurance training, cycling, running or any combination of the above.

How does it work?

Many of the benefits of HIIT come from pushing the body to its limit and significantly elevating the heart rate in the process. Let’s take a look at the many ways HIIT can help you turn back the clock.

It increases oxygen capacity in cells

In studies undertaken on individuals embarking on HIIT and other exercise regimes, those who had been performing the HIIT workouts presented considerable increases in mitochondrial capacity - the process by which the body’s cells take in oxygen to produce energy.

As we age, our cells’ mitochondrial capacity typically begins the decline. By helping increase
mitochondrial capacity, HIIT workouts help cells take in oxygen and transport it around the body to provide energy and maintain normal cellular function.

It burns fat

As in any anaerobic workout, HIIT training not only burns fat while you’re exercising by turning it into fuel, the intensity of the workout means your body continues to burn fat after the fact as it works to repair muscle and return to its natural resting state. Talk about the workout that keeps on giving!

It prevents cell death

OK, this one sounds a little shocking we know, but stay with us. Ever heard of telomeres? Well, you can think of these guys as little caps that sit on the end of your chromosomes, protecting them from all sorts of damage. Environmental and lifestyle factors like poor diet or smoking can work to shorten these telomeres effectively leading to a shortened lifespan of the cell and, eventually, the human.

The good news is, high-intensity exercises like HIIT have been proven to prevent the shortening of telomeres and prolong the lifespan of cells.

It improves heart health

Another benefit of HIIT is the impact on stroke volume. By ramping up your cardiovascular system, interval training literally gets your blood pumping, increasing the amount pumped from the left ventricle of the heart per beat.

It increases muscle growth

Muscle growth can seriously slow as we get older. Interval training has been proven to stimulate several bodily functions that lead to muscle growth. By putting a large amount go stress over major muscle groups, HIIT stimulates the release of human growth hormone, testosterone and a hormone similar to insulin that works to repair muscles and encourage new growth.

In addition to promoting new muscle growth, HIIT training can help prevent the deterioration of existing muscle. Interval training has a proven ability to boost the activity of ribosomes, a cellular particle that plays a large role in stopping muscular deterioration.

It helps your body recover 

The intensive nature of HIIT produces a lot of metabolic waste which are removed by the body during rest periods. The repetitive nature of interval training encourages the body to adapt to quick turnaround time and repair itself quicker to be ready for the next bout of exercise. In a real-world context, this primes the body and ensures it is better able to recover from falls and other incidents that can affect older people.

Is that all? 

But wait, there’s more. One of the most appealing things about HIIT is that you don’t need to do it every day to see results. In fact, some studies have shown that in order to get the best results it’s most beneficial to perform HIIT workouts a maximum of three days per week with rest days in between.

Is HIIT just for older people?

Absolutely not! While studies have shown the age-defying benefits are more pronounced in older adults, interval training brings big benefits to those of all ages. In fact, younger adults with no preexisting health issues may be able to get more out of their workout by pushing themselves further. Mentally, the benefits of establishing good habits while young are huge. Physically, in addition to promoting fat loss and cardiovascular health, muscle growth tends to be easier for younger adults and is easier to maintain over time than grow in old age.

Are there any risks?

As with any exercise, HIIT workouts can post some risk to those with pre-existing medical conditions or limited heart function. Especially for older individuals, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning any new type of workout.

If you are concerned about overexerting yourself, try wearing a heart monitor to measure your heart rate and start slow, building up to more and more challenging workouts, taking regular breaks as required.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

How HIIT Affects Your Bones

High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has quickly emerged as one of the most popular training techniques of the last decade, and rightfully so.

By leveraging intermittent, abrupt bursts of exercise followed by rest periods, millions of people around the world are enjoying enormous health benefits, including significantly better cardiovascular fitness, lower mortality rates, better cognition & alertness, and more. Coupled with breakthroughs on the health benefits of weight training, structured resistance-based HIIT is the single most effective training system on the market.

What, then, is the catch?

For years the concern around HIIT (and really, cardiovascular exercise in general), has been the toll it puts on your bones. One camp of adherents religiously decries it for the negative impact so much consistent force places on your joints and cartilage. The other insists the cartilage effects are overstated, and that HIIT is a godsend for bone density and strength.

The answer, as always, is somewhere in the middle, although leaning on one side more than the other. We’ve tried to do a reasonable, objective assessment of the impacts of HIIT on your skeletal system as well as a few recommendations near the bottom of the article on how to improve your response.

Read on.

Bone Density

Many studies have shown a strong causal link between HIIT and strong bone density. In facts, some studies have shown improved bone mineral density/content in as little as 6 weeks of interval training. When it comes to general bone health, the literature is clear: HIIT has a clear, obvious & nearly immediate impact on improving your bone density.

So how does it handle longer-term & chronic bone conditions?

HIIT and Osteoarthritis

Women, in particular, are affected heavily by this debate, and often avoid high-intensity exercise in an effort to stave off osteoarthritis/osteoporosis in the future. For decades there has lingered an idea that high-intensity exercise leads to poor bone health in women - unfortunately, this avoidance of exercise often ends up having the opposite effect.

A new Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that doing high-impact jumping exercises three times a week for 55 minutes actually strengthens knee cartilage in women who have osteoarthritis.

"High-impact movements have been thought to harm the cartilage and accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis," says study author Jarmo Koli. "But our research supports the view that cartilage benefits from gliding with compression, since the knee glides in front of the femur bone during the kinds of exercises we studied."

The literature surrounding a possible causal link between interval training and bone damage is unclear. What is clear, however, is that when an individual already struggles with osteoarthritis/osteoporosis, HIIT can actually help improve the situation.

The flip side

What’s clear with HIIT is that it inarguably improves your bone density. What’s unclear is the net gain of HIIT on your entire mobilization system - what good are strong bones if you can’t move them? There are a lot of question marks about whether HIIT is good for your ability to move and act in the long term.

The question marks around this is primarily based on one thing: human error.

In a vacuum, if you do HIIT perfectly, and couple it with proper rest periods, you won’t have any issues. You’ll enjoy great cardiovascular health, strong bone health, the works. So what’s the issue?

Most people don’t do it correctly.

Incorrect & hurried HIIT as well as insufficient rest periods leads to inflammation and, ultimately, damage. The most common damage comes in the form of tears - tears of meniscal cartilage shock absorbers, usually in the knees. Exercises like burpees and squats put tremendous pressure on the cartilage in your knees (the equivalent of 7-8 times your bodyweight), and is largely responsible for most of the fear around “bone health” and HIIT.

So, how do you deal with this and make your interval training responsible and effective?

1. No pain, no gain is bull. Avoid the gymbro machismo and be reasonable with your training. There is no reason that training should hurt, and even if it does hurt, it shouldn’t feel like your joints are hurting - you should be able to recognize the difference between muscle pain and joint pain, and stop immediately if it’s the latter.

2. Your diet matters. One of the primary causes of chronic injuries and HIIT is inflammation. A proper diet enables you to recover quickly and keeps inflammation to a minimum, allowing you to work out at your best.

3. Adequate rest periods. First-time gym goers suffer from this the most. Quality over quantity is the name of the game - killing yourself for 3 hours a day isn’t going to improve your life. HIIT should fit in with the rest of your week, and you should have adequate rest - much more than you think you need. Take at least 2 or 3 rest days a week from HIIT.

4. Talk to your doctor. I know, this advice sucks to hear - nobody wants to go to a doctor. The fact is, if you don’t have great joint health, you need to take a much more structured approach to HIIT. Go get a check up and make sure everything’s in working order - you can still enjoy the benefits of HIIT without doing exercises that will cripple your knees.

And that's pretty much it! High intensity interval training is a fantastic way to get in amazing shape, see elevated moods, increased energy and, yes, improve your bone strength - a lot. However, you won't reap those benefits unless you do things the right way, and avoid cartilage damage.

Also, consider supplementing your HIIT with weight/resistance training. Strengthening your large muscle groups will enable you to distribute weight off of your joints during HIIT, and lead to a better mobilization of your bones. Just like with the interval training itself, your exercise routine should be balanced.

Happy training!

Sprinterval is an app for iPhones and Android that helps you get started with Sprint Interval Training.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

How HIIT Affects Your Muscles

Everyone wants to get in shape, but many people go about it the wrong way. They’ll waste hours and hours on the treadmill or stationary bike, mind-numbingly glued to the machines. Unfortunately, research has shown that this can actually be counterproductive to muscle growth.

Steady-state cardio could even cause you to lose muscle if you’re not careful! So, what should you be doing then? Should you just avoid cardio entirely? Well, no, but you might need to go about it a different way.

In this article, we’ll be talking about the benefits of high-intensity interval training. We’ll explain why everyone is doing it, what the benefits are, and how you can make it a part of your routine to shed fat faster and build more muscle.

We’ll get to the benefits of HIIT and how it impacts your muscles in a minute, but first let’s talk about what HIIT is and where it came from. Who pioneered high-intensity interval training? Athletes looking to get the best performance from their training of course.

What is HIIT and where did it come from?

Despite what people may think, HIIT is not anything new. Athletes from as early as 1910 have been using interval training to condition their bodies for competitive sports. Hannes Kolehmainen, an Olympic gold medalist from Finland also trained using similar techniques.

HIIT means performing brief, but high-intensity bursts of cardio followed by equal periods of rest. As an example, you might consider sprinting. This would require you to run as fast as you can for a short period of time, and then follow that up with walking or a slow jog.

While many people have bemoaned the uselessness of steady cardio like biking or running when trying to gain muscle mass, the studies for HIIT tell a different story. In this study, comparing HIIT to steady-state cardio, the group who performed HIIT exercises gained nearly two pounds of muscle. The steady-state cardio group lost almost a pound.

That’s a staggering result, and if you’ve been on the fence about adopting a HIIT routine, you should definitely take a closer look. While you might think that it would be common sense that you would burn more fat with a longer cardio workout, another study says that while you would burn more calories, you could actually burn more body fat with HIIT.

So, what’s the downside to HIIT training? Well, interval training is very taxing on your body. You’re literally going as hard as you can in that time period, and that means that you need to be more careful about your recovery time. It’s important not to overtax your body when you incorporate HIIT into your workout routine.

What are the benefits of HIIT?

There are a lot of benefits to establishing a HITT routine. For starters, those sudden bursts of activity do an amazing job of burning a ton of calories in a short period of time. You could even burn up to 30% more calories with HIIT versus other methods of exercise.

HIIT has also been shown to boost your metabolic rate for an extended period of time even after your workout is over. This allows you to continue burning fat throughout the day.

It also allows you to do cardio while still gaining muscle, which is likely one of the biggest benefits of HITT. Especially seeing as steady-state cardio could even cause you to lose muscle mass.

This study also found that HIIT can reduce blood sugar and increase insulin resistance. How big of a difference is it? Enough for researchers to find it useful for diabetics, and it does a better job at it than traditional exercises as well.

There’s also evidence that HIIT can actually increase the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers have less in the way of endurance, but they can give a much larger boost to overall strength and power when compared to slow-twitch muscle fibers.

How does HIIT affect your muscles?

So, what makes HIIT so special? Why is it superior to boring old steady-state cardio? HIIT succeeds where everyday cardio fails because it can actually increase testosterone and GLUT4 concentrations, while steady-state cardio can actually be detrimental to testosterone.

Intense cardio periods, like the ones that appear during a HIIT workout actually deprive your body of oxygen. Your muscles then attempt to compensate for this by working harder to return to their normal state.

That’s really the magic of HIIT and why it allows your body to torch calories so quickly, but it also allows you to pack on more muscle. HIIT actually forces your body to use a greater percentage of your muscle fibers than something like jogging would, and that leads to a much larger boost in muscle growth.

How do you get started with HIIT training?

If you want to get started with HIIT, this means giving it everything you’ve got. You’re literally looking to be moving as fast as you can for 15-30 seconds. Then you’ll need to follow that up with an at least equal, but possibly longer rest period.

While sprinting is often a common example used for HIIT routines, you don’t have to run if you don’t want to. There’s plenty of other popular choices like cycling, rowing and cross trainer machines.

HIIT can also be extremely effective if it’s paired with a weight lifting routine. Try completing your HIIT routine an hour or so before you start lifting weights to help shed fat faster. If you’ll be performing both HIIT and weight training on the same day, go for strength endurance training with more reps to maximize the benefits.

In closing, HIIT workouts are actually very flexible, and they can be performed with little to no equipment. You can do HIIT at home, at the gym, when you’re traveling for business or even in your downtime somewhere. Just remember to give yourself ample rest periods to avoid injuring yourself.

Sprinterval is an app that helps you get started with HIIT using sprints.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

How to Stretch Before You Run

Stretching is the number one thing to incorporate in your regular exercise routines to minimize the chances of injury during workouts. Muscles need to be prepared and warmed up in order to function properly during the rigorous physical activity that will follow.

Stretches and stretch routines vary as much as there are different types of exercises and plans. If you’re to stretch before going for a run, you will concentrate on the core, hips, legs, calf, and ankle muscles. These are the muscles that will be used during jogging, so these parts of the body have to be warmed up before you hit the treadmill or pavement.

Warm-ups and stretches can help prevent injury and also increase your performance level during your workout or jog. It’s always a good idea to plan a few minutes before starting any activity to stretch out those muscles and get them prepared.

Do your stretches while focusing on the movement and not the number of repetitions. Feel your muscles and joints energize and warm up. Make your stretch routine count and let it be beneficial to your body.

Let’s warm up those muscles!

Stretching Before Running

Stretching the main muscles located in the hips and legs is recommended before running to energize and warm up the core muscles that you will be using during your run. Doing a few localized and effective stretches will warm up your muscles and your joints to help prevent injury and provide valuable energy to get going with your run.

Dynamic Stretches

The most effective stretches to do before a run are dynamic stretches as opposed to static stretches. The movements should be light and increasing. The muscles that you will want to concentrate on are your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hips, and calves.

5 Great Stretches for Runners

1. Hip Flexor Swing - This stretch helps improve hip mobility.
  • Hold on to something and stand on your right leg.
  • Swing the left one back and then forward. Build the stretch farther as you repeat. 
  • 15-20 repetitions on each leg

2. Hip Abductor – This stretch helps improve mobility
  • Hold on to something and stand on your right leg.
  • Swing your left leg crossways on top of the right one and then the other way. Build the stretch further as you repeat.
  • 15-20 repetitions for each leg.

3. Calf Raises – This stretch helps warm up the calf muscles
  • Stand on a step or a stair with the front of your feet firm and the back hanging.
  • Lower your heels past the stair.
  • Raise up on your toes.
  • 10-15 repetitions 
4. Lunge Walking – This stretch warms up hips
  • Large step forward with your right leg.
  • Bend until thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • 15-20 lunges.
5. Rotate Ankles – This stretch helps ankles flexibility
  • Sit on the floor and grab your right ankle.
  • Rotate your ankle in circular motion switching from clockwise to counterclockwise.
  • 15-20 repetitions for each ankle.

Stretching Before HIIT

Interval Sprint training has become increasingly popular in the last several years. There’s a good reason more and more people are hopping on the trend because it has proven to provide fast calorie burning and quick results.

Sprint training takes less time than a regular workout. Your body is subjected to short, intense periods of extreme exercise followed by short periods of rest and recovery. This is repeated several times over the course of approximately 25 minutes or so. This is meant to raise your heart rate to 80% or 90%, then bring it down a little but not completely.

Stretching before HIIT is different as you will want to warm up your muscles by mimicking the movements that you will be doing during your HIIT workout. It’s best to do dynamic stretches for pre-HIIT workouts. You want to slowly raise your heart rate and body temperature. A few minutes is sufficient to warm your muscles and prepare them for your interval sprint training.

Try These Quick and Easy Warm-Ups

When doing warmups before your HIIT workout, remember that the movement is important, not the number of repetitions. Focus on doing the movement fully and intently.

Jumping Jacks or Jumping Rope

Jumping jacks and jump rope are time-honored fitness workout warm-ups.
Try 2 minutes of one of these to get the heart pumping and muscles fired up.


Push-ups will get your core muscles into action and ready for your HIIT workout.
10 to 20 push-ups while engaging your core.


20 lunges will rev up the legs.

Arm Circles

10 to 15 Small arm circles clockwise and counterclockwise.
10 to 15 large arm circles clockwise and counterclockwise.

Stretching IS Important

Stretching is as important as you hear it said everywhere. Every fitness instructor or professional will tell you that warming up and preparing your body to do a physical activity is mandatory if you don’t want to hurt yourself.

Stretches shouldn’t take up too much time to be efficient. When done correctly you can get those muscles warmed up and ready for your workout in a few short minutes. There’s no use spending a lot of time and energy on stretches, energy that you will need for your run or your workout.

Adapt the type of stretches to the workout you are about to do. Think about the muscles that will be used and focus on warming those up. The core is always a good idea to prepare for any workout because it’s central in most movements we make.

Your stretches should be efficient; otherwise it's a waste of time even doing them. Listen to your body and don’t overstretch. Take the repetitions s gradually and build the flexibility until you fell the muscles and joints warm and not rigid.

You know you have had a successful stretching warmup when your muscles feel warm and your joints are flexible. That simple.

Don’t forget to stretch!

Sprinterval helps you get started with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) using sprints. Available for iOS & Android.