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What is High Intensity Training and What Makes It So Great?

Throughout the year, many people make the promise to themselves that they will get in shape. Losing weight and building muscle are two of the most common fitness goals, but some people are unsure about how to achieve these goals. High intensity training is one of the best ways for you to reach your goals because of its efficiency, cardiovascular benefits, and physical and mental challenge.

What Is High Intensity Training?

If you have never dieted before, your idea of high intensity might be the situation that takes place when there is only one donut left in the box in your office break room. However, in the fitness realm high intensity has a different definition. High intensity simply refers to a workout that pushes your body to the limit. There are two broad classes of high intensity workouts: cardiovascular training and strength training.

Cardiovascular High Intensity Training

High intensity cardio is great for burning calories quickly. With high intensity cardio, there is no question that you will be getting an intense exercise session in. During high intensity cardio, you will not have the time or energy to thumb through the latest gossip rag to find out which celebrity just got a nose job. Several of the most common types of high intensity cardio are:

  • Sprinting: running extremely hard for a set amount of time. This can be done on a treadmill, sidewalk, road, or running track.
  • Rowing: an Olympic sport, but if you do not have a boat or a large body of water, you can find machines at your gym to use for this exercise
  • Bicycling: You can either use stationary biking or ride an actual bicycle, depending on your tastes and how fashionable your biking clothes are.

One of the major benefits of high intensity cardiovascular training is that it will help you raise your metabolism. When you engage in high intensity training, your heart rate stays elevated for the hours after you work out. This means that you burn more calories even at a resting rate. You may also see high intensity training referred to as high intensity interval training, or HIIT. This is because high intensity training requires you to exercise in intensity intervals. For example, you might sprint as hard as possible for 30 seconds, then walk or jog slowly for a minute, and repeat that intervallic cycle for the duration of your workout.

High Intensity Strength Training

High intensity strength training is similar to cardiovascular training, except it involves lifting heavy stuff. With high intensity strength training, you perform the same types of lifts, but with a higher amount of weight. Another one of the hallmarks of high intensity strength training is lifting until failure. In short, this means that you lift weight until you are unable to do any more reps with proper form. One of the most important issues to consider when engaging in high intensity strength training is rest. You must make sure that you are taking enough time between workouts so that your muscles can recover: otherwise you run the risk of overstressing your body.

The Benefits Of High Intensity Training

So now that you know some of the details about what exactly high intensity training is, you may be wondering what the big fuss is. Why are so many people engaging in high intensity training? There are several reasons.

  • Efficiency: In some cases, you can burn the same amount of calories or build the same amount of muscle with a workout that lasts just ten or fifteen minutes as you would in double or triple that amount of time doing a moderately paced exercise. High intensity training can be great for people that have limited time to work out.
  • Cardiovascular benefits: High intensity training can improve the health of your heart as well as your endurance. The more you work out your heart and cardiovascular system, the better shape it will be in.
  • Metabolism boost: Studies show that high intensity training will help boost your metabolism all day. Dr. Michael Bracko reports that high intensity cardiovascular training will help you elevate the amount of calories that you burn for 1.5 to 24 hours after you exercise.
  • Challenge: Who doesn’t like a good challenge? When you have a high intensity workout, there is no way that you will be able to say that you slacked off. Even though you won’t be working out as often or for as long as people that do moderate or low-intensity workouts, you will be able to take pride in the fact that you kicked your own butt for a certain period of time.
  • Variety: High intensity training is great for people that get bored of working out easily, because you can do so many different exercises with it. Beyond the basic forms of cardio like running, bicycling, and swimming, you can apply it to hybrid cardiovascular workouts like jump squats or burpees. On the strength training side, you can apply the high intensity philosophy to almost any lift, as long as you have proper form and do not use more weight than you can handle.

Precautions With High Intensity Training

Although high intensity training is a very effective way to shed pounds and build muscle, there are some precautions. If you are extremely out of shape and it has been a while since you worked out last, you should start with a more moderate form of exercise and work your way up to high intensity training. If you have a medical condition, especially one involving the cardiovascular or muscular system, talk to your doctor before you start on a high intensity training routine. You do not want to run the risk of injuring yourself because of health issues, as it is hard to get in better shape from a hospital bed.

Almost everyone wants to improve the way their body looks, but not everyone has the dedication to do so. With high intensity training, you can achieve your goal of gaining muscle or dropping unwanted fat in a fun, challenging way. It will take time, sweat, and dedication, but if you find or create a high intensity training program that is right for you and stick to it, you can unlock your ideal physique sooner than you might think.

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