Why does it always feel like the times when we really should be working out the most are the times when our motivation is completely and utterly nonexistent?
Now I want to be clear here…
(Apologies in advance if what I’m about to say sounds preachy, I just want to keep it totally real. If you don’t want to hear it from me, stop reading and go put on Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch.” Back? OK, let’s keep going.)
…you cannot “outrun a bad diet”—that is to say, if you are constantly filling your body with crap, it doesn’t matter how hard or often you work out, your poor nutrition is going to catch up to you. However, exercise and diet really do work in tandem, so upping one factor a bit in the absence of the other definitely does help. So, as summer usually lends itself to more opportunities to overindulge or deviate from my normal “healthy” eating habits, I make a sincere effort to schedule in some sort of sweat session 5 or 6 times per week instead of my usual 4 or 5.
But, and this goes back to my original point, it can be really difficult to hold myself to this commitment when grinding it out in the gym is the last thing I feel like doing or have time for in between all of the summer fun. Luckily, I’ve discovered the perfect solution for when I need—or hell, just want—to get a killer workout done in a short amount of time. Ladies and gents, I present to you…HIIT.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, and it is exactly what its name suggests. The basic premise is that you perform one “high-intensity” move (i.e., your body is in constant motion) for an interval of time, followed by a short period of rest—think 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off; 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off; or even a minute of sprinting followed by a minute of walking. If you create a circuit with 6 or 7 HIIT moves and work through it 3 or 4 times, you’re looking at anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes where your heart rate remains elevated. My favorite part of HIIT though? The time flies because you’re constantly switching it up. By the time you’re “over” a certain exercise—I’m looking at you split lunge jumps—you’re on to the next one!
Now, I’m sure some of you might be reading this thinking there’s no way working out for half the time can be more effective. I, too, thought it was horse shit (the best kind there is!); however, I’ve done quite a bit of research about it over the years and guys, it’s all backed by science. The effect is known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). To put it simply, oxygen is required to cool your body down and bring it back down to its “normal” state after a workout. Therefore, if you put a greater demand on your oxygen levels, say, by continuously spiking your heart rate via anaerobic activity, you are going to deplete your oxygen store, meaning it will take longer for your body to return to status quo. And the longer that metabolism is revving, the more calories you are burning…even after your workout has ended. Just remember, the effectiveness of EPOC is influenced entirely by the intensity of the exercise, not the duration. So, push yourself to go hard during your activity period, maintaining movement all the way until your rest. Need a break? Totally fine, but just modify the movement instead of stopping completely!
Want to give it a try? Pick a handful of exercises from the list below, jot them down, and choose your “interval.” Personally, I prefer to use a good old-fashioned stopwatch because I tend to find the unexpected noise disorienting when I’m “in the zone,” but there are plenty of free apps you can download to beep in your ear and alert you when it is time to start and stop. Now go earn that vino in record time, boo! You can thank me later.
HIIT Exercises To Get You Started:
- Jumping Rope
- Squat Jumps
- Split Lunge Jumps
- Jumping Jacks
- Plank Jacks
- Monster Walk/“Booty Band” Shuffle
- Mountain Climbers
- Plank Up-Downs (sorry, I’m not sure what this is actually called, but basically just move in a plank position from your hands to your elbows and back up again for the full interval)
- And basically anything with a step—box jumps, toe-taps, on-offs, etc.
* Not jazzed about this list? The internet is your friend, friend! There are countless examples of HIIT exercises at all intensity levels, so do your research and use what’s best for you!