High Intensity Training (HIT’s) the pros and the cons

By Jasmine Wing

If you have a short attention span and prefer an ‘in and out’ approach when it comes to your workout, then high intensity training may be perfect for you. However, besides the masses of great benefits, it also has its shortfalls.
When participating in moderate-extreme exercise, your body somewhat panics. It has a survival mechanism, which I am sure you are familiar with called fight or flight. This means your body releases cortisol and adrenaline that supplies your body with energy and strength to either fight off the enemy or run away from adversary. Either way your body, when FORCED, will find the energy from the back burner to avoid danger.

…the benefits;

• Afterburn:
One great benefit to this type of workout is called the ‘afterburn’. Research suggests that you will have a much greater afterburn effect when you do 5 rounds of 30 second sprints than if you were to jog for 30 minutes. This all sounds great right? Cortisol that is released when training intensely aids the metabolism of fat in the body and increases your resting metabolic rate. This means your ‘fat burning machine’ is working faster than it usually would.
“When your body is pushed during exercise, it can take up to three days for your metabolism to return to ‘normal’,” says Victor Zammit, professor of metabolic biochemistry at Warwick University.
• For a healthier heart:
Interestingly after either a HEAVY lifting session or HIGH INTENSITY workout, your body requires more oxygen afterwards to recover. This improves your cardiorespiratory endurance (heart and respiratory system). It also helps your heart to become stronger by promoting faster cardiac output. Both workouts help to activate your fast twitch muscle fibres, which cause muscle growth and weight loss.
• Quick and simple:
High-intensity interval training can be really beneficial for those with limited time such as lunch breaks or morning sessions before work. Ticking all the boxes for convenience and are successful at increasing fitness, rapid weight loss and muscle building. What’s not to love?
• Supress that hungry feeling:
For some, the bonuses of sprints, circuits and so on, far outweigh the bad. For example the fact that HITs supress your appetite can be very appealing for those of us trying to lose weight. If your drawback is that insatiable appetite then look no further, research has shown that HIIT reduces appetite unlike those hour long spin classes that leave you feeling starving. A study in Western Australia showed that those who performed high intensity exercise consumed fewer calories. They were simply less hungry after doing HITT. This is because it reduces the amount of hunger hormone, ghrelin.

…the downsideafterburn Or is it just a myth?
On the contrary, many believe that the after burn idea is just a myth and real weight loss can simply be achieved when your energy expenditure is greater than your energy intake. Unlike in financial terms, weight loss is merely achieved when your outgoings (calories burnt) are higher than you ingoings’ (your food).

• Feel the burn:
As part of your body’s response to stress, inflammation is reduced by suppressing the immune system. Then when you relax and your stress hormone levels normalise, the pain will come on strong! This can be dangerous, if you are someone who likes to hit the gym hard until you feel the ‘burn’, with a ‘no pain-no gain’, attitude then you are at risk of overdoing it. You may go a lot harder because you don’t feel anything in the moment. Let me assure you, from personal experience, the day after you may be feeling a bit regretful.

• Tiring stuff:
When carrying out HIT’s it important to know that interval training can be really tough on your body. If you perform high intensity training too often and consecutively without allowing your body enough time to recovery and the correct diet then you will most certainly feel drained and at are risk of overtraining. One snag is although fast twitch muscle fibres produce better burst of speed, they also tire more quickly. High intensity workouts really can cause fatigue – not great for those long days at work or studying.

• Correct form is crucial:
Popularity of box jumps and exercises such as burpees has been increasing and I am most certainly included in the love, hate relationship with those intense exercises however if performed without proper technique I am well aware of their potential danger. They cause damage to joints, hips, knees and ankles. They also increase the likelihood of injuries. Jumping down from a box jump causes unwanted strain on joints and muscles. If you are ever unsure about your form or technique never hesitate to ask a personal trainer, it is much better to feel a fool for asking than laying on the gym floor tears after hurting yourself.

• Warning:
My final point; it is not well advertised but this type of training it is not something advised for beginners. Sprinting requires the highest rate of energy supply and demands a lot from your body. So don’t go throwing yourself into something too hard, too quickly!

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