If you are not yet convinced about the benefits of high intensity interval training, HIIT, then please check out the research my friend Matt Stork just published. I have known Matt since we were in undergrad at McMaster University and working with the Strength and Conditioning program. Matt was an intern working under me, who challenged me often and I am grateful for that because it pushed me to create the best programs I could at the time. He has since gone on to complete his Masters degree and is currently a candidate for his PhD completing his research out west at the University of British Columbia.
The thing I like most about Matt, aside from his movie-star good looks and competitive nature, is that he has a passion for bringing exercise to the masses. He understands the importance of accessibility to exercise and that to reduce health-care costs and more importantly improve the quality of life for many we need to find new ways to fit exercise into people’s busy lives. We need to make these super-potent methods mainstream. Enter the New York Times.
Matt’s work was recently featured in an article by The New York Times. I’m pretty happy for the guy. His big brain should be featured in big publications. (His work is also published in legitimate journals for research so he’s way official).
This particular study featured 30 participants that had never tried interval training before and put them through 3 workouts: a traditional, steady-state bike, a traditional, high-intensity interval bike, and a super-high intensity Wingate-style bike. Without re-writing the Times’ article, the researchers basically kept asking the volunteers how they felt during and after exercise (I know right, don’t talk to me while I’m dying over here!). Subjects reported that the interval training made them feel more tired and that immediately after the steady-state workout was most enjoyable. Ok, ground-breaking.
What is most interesting is that they were told to monitor their exercise for a month after and most people reported trying a high-intensity interval workout again. They also changed their opinion and rated all three workouts relatively equal in enjoyment. So, apparently, we forget how much interval training sucked, or we simply realize it really wasn’t that bad. That’s not how Matt explains it to me but my small caveman brain simplifies it like that. As Matt says, “You can’t know whether you will enjoy them or not, until you try them.”
Whatever the reason for completing interval training, be it the enormous time savings, the potent health benefits, the break from monotony or the feeling of accomplishing more, just trying is the best thing someone can do.
How to start may be the hardest part for most people. “What do I do?” Literally anything is fine. If we’re looking for specific adaptations then there are various methods to use such as High Resistance Intervals and Tempo Intervals but if you’re just looking to improve your fitness in some way, some hard exercise then some rest a few times is the simplest way to put it. For those with a serious time crunch you can try the One Minute Workout protocol or a Ladder workout. (Click any of these links for more info)
Just trying any of these workouts could be the push you need to make a change. Don’t think too much about it, just go ahead and do some work, rest a bit, then do some more work.