Worker smarter (not harder) should be your motto when exercising, which is why high intensity internal training workouts have become so popular.
Everyone has heard the recommendation that you should exercise for one hour every single day. However, many people do not realize that exercising too much can be more harmful than not working out at all. More is not better in this case, which is why Mama Z’s Fit40 & Beyond home exercise class focuses on the benefits of high intensity interval training.
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Overexertion Is Dangerous
Long distance running is a great example in which overexertion can take place. Pheidippides was an Athenian messenger who ran across the land of Marathon to announce the Greek victory over the Persian army.
Since that time, marathon running has caused a great debate. When Pheidippides arrived, he said “Rejoice, we conquer,” and then he immediately dropped dead.
While some contend this story is untrue, many understand that marathon running (and overexertion) can be very harmful to the human body. Dr. James O’Keefe of Preventive Cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute of Saint Luke’s Health System said,
“The heart pumps about 5 quarts per minute when we’re sitting. When we’re running, it goes up to 25 to 30 quarts. The heart wasn’t meant to do that for hours, day in and day out. You end up overstretching the heart and tearing muscle fibers. Up to 30 percent of those who finish marathons have elevated troponin levels, which is a marker for heart damage. That’s the marker we look for to see if someone’s having a heart attack- it’s irrefutable evidence of heart damage,” (1)
There is a correlation between running and shortened life expectancy. A recent study shows that long distance runners have the same life span as couch potatoes. (2)
3 Important Health Benefits
Fortunately, global health authorities have discovered a new effective way to train and exercise, which is high intensity interval training (HIIT). The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends:
“Adults aged 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity through the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity through the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.” (3)
Although the WHO still recommends an hour of cardio five times a week, it is reassuring to know that the benefits of high intensity interval training workouts are getting more attention around the world.
Check out a FREE screening Mama Z’s Fit40 & Beyond home exercise class for some high intensity fun!
According to a 2012 presentation at the European Society of Cardiology: (4)
- HIIT activates telomerase, an anti-aging enzyme, and reduces p53 expression, reduces p53 expression – the most commonly mutated gene in people with cancer.
- One workout can increase telomerase by circulating the cells.
- Physical activity and life expectancy have a positive correlation.
Not only can HIIT workouts benefit our DNA, but they help the following:
- Decreased body fat
- Improved libido
- Better muscle tone
- Fewer wrinkles, firm skin
- Increased energy
- Boosted metabolism
2. Balancing Key Hormones
The overall most important benefit of high intensity training is the management of hormones responsible for weight gain and unhealthy eating.
Ghrelin is a hormone related to long-term weight gain and short term eating habits, such as the “munchies.” This hunger hormone is produced in the stomach and can stimulate appetite. Ghrelin mainly contributes to sweet, salty, and fried food cravings. It has a unique way of slowing down fat usage. Some other important facts are:
- Ghrelin “primes the brain” for post-traumatic stress disorder.” (5)
- Ghrelin continues the stress-cycle, which contributes to weight gain.
- Ghrelin is released directly in response to stressful situations, which clarifies why people eat when they are stressed.
Associate Professor Jeffrey Zigman, MD, PhD, of UT Southwestern Medical Center states that ghrelin is related to stress and it helps explain certain complex eating behaviors and may be one of the mechanisms by which obesity develops in people exposed to psychosocial stress.
Leptin is considered the “starvation hormone” because it makes your body feel like it is full. By telling your brain you have eaten enough, leptin ensures that your energy levels are adequate. Typically, your fat cells create enough leptin so your internal energy level manages your weight and helps your cells to function.
When people gain weight, their blood leptin levels can rise and weight loss will result because the body feels full faster when eating food. However, many individuals ignore these warning signs and they eat too much. This makes them “leptin resistant” which causes more weight gain and obesity.
Three important pointers:
- High intensity training is a natural way to control these hormones and more.
- Leptin manages long-term energy balance and suppresses food consumption, which helps weight loss.
- Ghrelin is a vital and fast-acting hormone that contributes to weight gain.
The past decade has had substantial research that shows ghrelin increases and leptin decreases after burst training workouts. High Intensity Interval Training is one of the best ways to manage your hunger cues and to maximize your hormones to lose weight.
Get moving and enjoy high intensity interval training with a FREE screening Mama Z’s Fit40 & Beyond home exercise class!
Researchers have been confused for years due to these four hormone facts:
- Both of these hormones increase after high intensity training workouts.
- Increases in testosterone encourage weight loss.
- Reduced levels of leptin are responsible for weight gain.
- Testosterone impedes the discharge of leptin in the body.
Ultimately, high intensity interval training creates an effect on testosterone and leptin in the body. These hormones offset each other, but promote the same weight loss effect. This poses many questions, “Would the level of leptin created as a result of HIIT be sufficient to offset testosterone’s capacity to slow down leptin release?”
The journal Endocrine published a study that says, YES! (6) High intensity workouts cause leptin to not be impacted by the harmful effects of high testosterone. No relation could be found between the two hormones during the study. By doingHigh Intensity Interval Training workouts, you receive the hormonal benefit of weight loss.
Additionally, health and exercise science researchers in the UK have shown the various hormone levels for individuals who do burst training: (7)
- Growth hormone (accredited to weight loss) increases, which shows that burst training impacts other hormones besides ghrelin and leptin.
- Ghrelin declines after 30 minutes of recovery.
These two pieces of research show that burst training is effective in curbing appetite and controlling weight gain.
3. Weight Loss
High intensity interval training is super effective when you are working out to help increase weight loss. As you are getting a good cardio workout while focusing on major muscle groups, your workout will give you plenty of bang for your buck! The hormones that affect your mood and metabolism begin to regulate and your body will learn to burn stored fat for energy during rest periods. Of course, it is important to ensure that you’re fueling your body with high quality food to get the maximum benefits of both health and weight loss.
Strengthening the major muscle groups of the body, like those in the legs, glutes, and abs also works to improve your posture, strengthen joints, and relieve aches and pains in the lower back. The benefits of HIIT are so far reaching!
The Basic Principles Behind HIIT
HIIT is a combination of short but high intensity bursts of exercise with slow recovery times repeated during a short session, such as 15-20 minutes. The workout is completed at 85-100 percent of your maximum heart rate, rather than 50-70 percent in a moderate endurance activity. This burst training workout can be done anywhere with any type of movement, as long as it is performed like a sprint rather than a marathon.
It is best to exercise first thing in the morning to control your leptin and ghrelin throughout the day. According to the Journal of Physiology, exercising on an empty stomach has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. (8) This helps to prevent type II diabetes, improve weight loss, and curb any cravings to eat unhealthy food.
One of the advantages of high intensity workouts is that they can be done at home with little to no equipment. For example, you could go to a track and walk the curves and sprint the straight lines. If you enjoy biking, you can spin at maximum speed for 20 seconds, and then go easy for 20 seconds, repeating the bursts for 10-20 minutes.
Elite athletes have been using burst training for years. While this method of exercise isn’t new, it proves that anybody can train this way, whether they are an Olympian or not.
How to Start Exercising
When you have made the decision to create a healthier lifestyle, there are a couple of different components that you need to put into place. It’s important to make sure that you are eating right to give yourself the energy you need and support your total body health, first and foremost. Once you have that plan in hand, adding in a great exercise program, like Mama Z’s HIIT workout, is crucial for your success.
The first step to getting started with a HIIT exercise program is understanding exactly what HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, means. With HIIT exercise plans, workouts consist of short bursts of high intensity exercise, followed by slow recovery periods. Also known as burst training, one of the most common examples is alternating a short sprint with a walk to bring your heartrate down. This allows your heart to work in the wonderfully efficient way that it was designed, while giving you the physical activity that you need to tone muscles, boost metabolism, and increase your overall physical and mental well-being.
There are a lot of amazing benefits to HIIT, but there are also a few precautions and safety considerations, as well. Exercise is best done in the morning, on an empty stomach, to help control insulin and hormone levels throughout the day. If you have pain, dizziness, vertigo, or nausea, you might be pushing too hard, so dial down the workout. Soreness is normal as you tone and build muscle, but you should never have real pain when exercising.
HIIT Workouts for Beginners
There are HIIT workouts for every part of the body, which we cover extensively in our Essential Oils Diet book. With HIIT training, you will focus on one muscle group with each working, making sure that the entire body gets the attention it needs. There will be days that you work upper body, days for lower body, and days where your focus will be on your abs and core. One thing that won’t change from day to day is the need for a warmup and cool down to begin and end each workout.
As a beginner, we suggest that you start with a ten-minute warmup, 10 second “burst” intervals with a maximum level 5 out of ten for effort, 50 second “recovery” intervals at a level 2 out of 10, for a total of 10 intervals. This will help you begin to acclimate to the physical activity that you are adding into your daily routine and build up your energy levels and stamina. After a couple of weeks, you can begin to increase the length and intensity of your intervals, making for an even more effective workout.
Anyone can do HIIT workouts! Even if an exercise seems to hard, performing a modified version that meets your personal limitations is perfectly alright. The key to success is keeping your heart rate up and performing in sprint-style bursts to maximize the effectiveness of the workout.
Warmup & Cool Down Routines
The purpose of warming up and cooling down are very much the same. It’s all about preparing your body. Even if you are pressed for time, be sure to start every workout with a warmup, as it can prevent injuries to your muscles and tendons. You want to be sure that your muscles are limber and ready and your heart is engaged and prepared for the challenges ahead!
What is a safe heart rate for exercise?
In order to find your target heart rate, you must first calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. With HIIT, your target heart rate will be 85-100 percent of your maximum heart rate for the short period of time of your workout – typically around 15-20 minutes.
Simple warmups that will increase your heart rate and prepare your body for the more intense intervals to come include walking up and down stairs, brisk walks, or a low impact series of kicks, arm circles, and similar exercises that will help to increase your heart rate safely. Our Essential Eight Warm-up, which you can find in the Essential Oils Diet Book, is a perfect, martial arts style warmup that is a lot of fun and quite effective.
What level of intensity should a warmup be?
While you want to begin increasing your heart rate during your warmup, it’s important not to overdo it and burn out in the first few minutes of exercising. Instead, start slow and build momentum to the high intensity intervals in the workout. As your body begins to get into better shape, you can begin to increase the intensity of your workouts and challenge yourself even more to achieve even better results!
Cool Down Exercises
Just as important to your workout as warming up is cooling down. You want to bring your heart rate back down and signal to your muscles that it’s time to rest and recover. A brisk walk for a few minutes is a perfect way to end your workout, as it will allow your heart rate to decrease slowly and your muscles to continue a slow stretch as you finish your routine.
Upper Body HIIT Workout Tips
When many people think upper body, their minds instantly go to workouts that include a large amount of weight work. With Mama Z’s HIIT workout plan, nothing could be further from the truth. While you could add hand weights to increase the intensity of your workout and gain strength, everything within the Essential Exercise plan upper body HIIT Workout is done simply with your own body weight and resistance.
Your Upper Body HIIT Workout at home will consist of exercises specifically designed to strengthen the muscles of your arms, shoulders, and back. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, you can begin with just a few reps or a shorter time period, modifying the moves to meet your own abilities. As time goes on, you can start to increase your reps or move to the unmodified version as you begin to increase your physical fitness.
Though Mama Z’s arm circles and grip workout might seem simple, these seemingly easy moves can really pack a punch! Check out the video and see just how simple but effective these upper body HIIT exercise can be for your shoulders and arms.
Lower Body HIIT Workout Tips
Working out your lower body is so important to fitness and total body health. When you are carrying extra weight, it takes a serious toll on the joints in your legs, so by strengthening those muscles, they will better protect those joints as you work toward reaching your weight loss goals. Plus, the added weight loss will help to relieve some of the strain on your knees, hips, and ankles, as well.
The exercises in the HIIT leg workout will work your calves and thighs, without the need for excessive equipment. You may wish to use a yoga mat or folded blanket or towel to protect your knees when doing exercises that require kneeling on a hard surface. The HIIT Hips and Glute Workout gives your hips and backside a solid workout that will help to improve posture and increase joint stability and flexibility.
Mountain Climbers for Lower Body
Keep in mind as you are coming up with your personalized workout that you can alternate leg days and arm days to give your muscles a chance to rest and recover between interval sessions. Working out the entire body will help you to maximize weight loss and enhance your body’s overall health.
Check out the video below to see Mama Z demonstrate one of the most effective leg exercises, Mountain Climbers, as well as some modifications that you can do as you are working your way toward a higher fitness level. This exercise is so versatile! Anyone can find a way to do it, no matter their fitness level.
HIIT AB Workout Tips
There are two ways that you can approach your HIIT ab workout as a beginner. You can rotate your ab days with your upper and lower body workouts, or you can do abs each day alongside another muscle group. As your fitness level and stamina begins to increase, you can work toward completing all the groups in one extensive workout session.
When doing your HIIT ab workout, you’ll need a little bit of equipment. A towel, blanket, or mat for the floor is helpful. You also will need an exercise ball, some hand weights, and an ab wheel to get the most effective workout. Medicine balls in lower weights are also a great addition to your home workout equipment. All of these can be found at a relatively inexpensive price at your favorite big box store or on Amazon, allowing you to work out at home without expensive equipment.
Importance of HIIT Core Workout
Working out your core muscles is one of the most important parts of your total body health. When you have weak core muscles, it affects your posture, can cause back pain, and can also leave you open to injuries. Be sure that you include this interval set regularly in your HIIT workout plan.
Best High Intensity Interval Training Ab Exercises – Some of the best high intensity interval training ab exercises include:
- various crunches
- ab wheel rolls
- ab twists
- simple floor work like the “superman” and “ninja turtle” exercises
In the video below, see a great demonstration of Exercise Ball Crunches, with and without a medicine ball. Pay close attention to the advice given about form and learn how to modify the exercise if you aren’t quite physically ready to go all-in.
15 Min HIIT Ab Workout
Pressed for time? You can still fit in a quick ab workout to make sure that you don’t miss a day in your new workout routine.
Start with a brisk 5 minute walk to get your body warmed up. Alternately, you can spend 5 minutes doing low impact exercises that will raise your heart rate. Choose 3 favorite exercises that work your core muscles and do a few sets of each in 10 second bursts with a 50 second cool-down exercise between each, for a total of 10 intervals.
Some of our favorite core exercises include:
- Exercise Ball Crunches
- Ab Wheel Roll Outs
- Fire Hydrants
It really is just that easy to fit a quick ab workout into your day! No more excuses about not having enough time to exercise!
What do I do AFTER my Workout?
Of course you need to cool down. But exercise alone isn’t going to make you healthy. One vitally important aspect of healthy living is to stay well-hydrated. Try our essential oil water concentrate to ensure proper hydration.
Make sure that you are eating plenty of bioactive foods that will fuel your body well. And if you find yourself a little stiff and sore after your workout, we have some great essential oil remedies for athletes that will help ease any aches and pains.
As you can see, making the move to HIIT workout plans is one that has far-reaching benefits and can help you to live the healthiest, most abundant life possible, as God intended. Want to learn more about HIIT and how you can get started on a path to weight loss and total body health? Pick up a copy of the Essential Oils Diet book and unlock the rest of the bonuses including more workout videos to help you maximize your fitness routine!