Once you know what FUEL your body needs to help you look and feel your best, it is time to start thinking about fitness. The two go hand in hand when it comes to looking and feeling your best. Gone are the days where you need to strap on a pair of shoes, and just run for miles and miles or sit mindlessly on a stationary bike for an hour. I don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have time for that anyway.

In fact, focusing exclusively on endurance training can actually increase your stress hormone (cortisol), promoting fat storage, and it can even make you shed muscle. Instead make high intensity interval training the primary focus of your workouts. You will reduce body fat, gain more muscle, perform better, and generally feel younger. WHY; because you will increase the production of your very own *human growth hormone by 450% within the 24 hour period post exercise (aka the fountain of youth!)

Human growth hormone is not only responsible for after-burn, it will also slow down the aging process by rapidly repairing tissue, it will help you get the coveted (and oh so precious) REM sleep, and so much more. Pretty awesome, right? Plus, if you are already investing your valuable time into a regular fitness program, why not work just a little harder, in short bursts of time, to get the greatest benefit you can? You with me?

So, now you are likely wondering what a high intensity interval workout is-right? Here goes. A traditional HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training) will require a period of maximum effort for a short period of time, followed by a recovery period; you will basically lather, rinse and repeat. :-) You can adapt this workout to whatever time and space constraints you have.

Get water and a towel; you will need it. You will be a sweaty mess.

First; always begin ANY workout with a dynamic warm-up (5 minutes of jogging, biking, walking briskly, etc. You get the picture-right? Be smart, and take care of your heart and muscles by letting them know it’s time to move. This is not a mindless workout that you can do while chatting on the phone with a friend or checking the Facebook newsfeed. Shut it all down. This will require FOCUS; and it will be worth every minute of it.

Choose the exercises that you wish to perform within the intervals. It’s up to you! Use your imagination! You can do sprints, lunges, squats, jumping jacks; anything goes! Be sure to FOCUS on perfect form to avoid injury. Follow the work-to-rest intervals as indicated. Check it out:

  • Once you are nice and warm, it is safe for you to begin Interval Training.
  • Get a stopwatch; with high intensity intervals, you will need a timer. Most smartphones have timers, and there are even interval training apps! BOOM. Set yourself up for success.
  • A beginner can begin with 15 seconds of high intensity (doing virtually any exercise as hard and as fast as you can) followed by 60 seconds of active recovery. Repeat this sequence for a total of about 15 minutes. As you advance through this style of training, and your fitness level increases, you will bump up the time on your intense interval (up to about 30 seconds), and shorten your rest period (as low as 15 seconds; make sense?

Follow any workout with a 5 minute cool down and stretch. BING BANG BOOM-you crushed an interval workout. Less time=more benefits! Now, get after it!

(*Don’t be fooled by the synthetic form of human growth hormone that people are injecting. It is not the same as what you produce naturally by your pituitary gland. Keep it real, and the benefits will last you a lifetime.)

Nickie Carrigan is a fitness business owner in the Twin Cities. As a passionate fitness professional, she strives to help others across the country build and/or maintain active and healthy lifestyles. To contact Nickie visit www.nickiecarriganfitness.com.

Photo courtesy of midwestnerd