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Trainer Q&A: How Do I Get More from Interval Training?

Our answers to your question about maximizing your cardio efforts.

Q: What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and how do I do it in my gym?

A: If you're someone starting off in interval training, the technical term for interval training is fartlek, which is casual paced interval training. For example, sprint as fast for as long as you can, rest, run, then walk. HIIT is more advanced because you get more specific, such as one minute of sprints followed by 30 seconds of recuperation and repeat. Also, you’re working full anaerobic and aerobic thresholds. The more advanced you are at HIIT, the longer the work periods become and shorter the rest periods become. HIIT involves work time being very fast and vigorous and rest time being slow.

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Running, cycling, jumping rope, plyometrics, rowing, even extreme weightlifting are forms of HIIT. Perform HIIT no more than twice a week. Use the talk test: If you can  easily get a sentence out, you are not working hard enough.

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Here are some examples of how to do HIIT in the gym:

Jump Rope (Double Unders)
Duration: 1 minute
Active Rest: 30 seconds

Burpees
Duration: 1 minute
Active Rest: 30 seconds

Box Jumps: 1 minute
Active Rest: 30 seconds

Spinning Classes (your heart rate increases and decreases)

Treadmill/Elliptical
Duration: 2 minutes sprinting
Walking: 1 minute (novice), 30 seconds (high intensity)

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The benefits of HIIT are cardiovascular fitness and enhanced fat burning to the point where you’re going to burn the same amount of calories in half the amount of time compared with steady-state cardio. Steady-state cardio is moderate exercise on the elliptical for say, 40-45 minutes. If you’ve done steady-state cardio, the second you get off the machine, you stop burning fat. However, the second you stop HIIT, you are burning calories 24-48 hours later. Why? Lactic acid formulates in the blood when training muscles at high intensity. The acid has to subside so it subsides during the recovery stage, when your body burns the calories to help repair those muscles. The more you do HIIT, the more manageable lactic acid will be allowing you to burn more fat during your workout before the lactic acid kicks in.

About the Trainer: Gino Caccavale is a certified personal trainer and former Mr. Connecticut bodybuilder based in New York City and has been featured on Fox News and in publications such as Muscle & Fitness Hers, Competitor Magazine, and Men’s Exercise. muscleinmotion.com

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