You’ve probably heard of high intensity training, but more than likely are fuzzy on the details. High intensity training (“HIT”) refers to performing a single set of 8-12 repetitions of slow controlled weight resisted exercises, to momentary muscular failure, at a repetition duration that maintains muscular tension throughout the entire range of motion, for most major muscle groups once or twice each week.
So what makes HIT so great, and why would I want to do it? Below I’ve outlined 10 great reasons I train with HIT.
- Primum non nocere). First do no harm. Though it’s the Hippocratic oath of physicians, it should be an oath for personal trainers and trainees alike. If you are exercising for health, the first thing you might try is to minimize the inherent risk of exercise. I just don’t get “training like an athlete,” as it’s not unheard of for “healthy” athletes to die on the field! Athletes sacrifice their bodies at the alter of winning and often end up crippled or otherwise damaged later in life. That’s not exactly what I’m going for. HIT’s low number of slow, controlled reps is a more demandingto muscle tissue while being very easily tolerated by joints. That’s more like it. Construction, not destruction.
- HIT is actually good for your joints.
- HIT saves me time in the gym. As the name says, HIT is high intensity. The higher the intensity, the less time it takes to do the same amount or even more work (think sprinting a 100 yard dash over jogging it). So HIT is done less frequently and for less time. For me, it’s 20 minutes once a week and I’m done. Boom.
- It’s physical training and mindfulness training all in one. After years of doing Kundalini Yoga, I brought my meditation into the gym. HIT is a perfect “asana” for cultivating concentration and awareness, and mindfulness helps me get the most out of any exercise. It’s a “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” combination.
- HIT increases cardiovascular ability better than “cardio.” No really, it does. What do you think creates the demand for all that breathing in “cardio”? Do you really think it’s the uncontrolled flailing of limbs? Nope. It’s muscular work. True dat.
- The most important component of exercise that actually stimulates change is effort. Er … in another word: intensity.
- It’s better for building bone density. I’m a skinny fair-skinned fifty year old. When I fell and broke my wrist a couple of years ago, instead of the predicted 8-12 weeks in a cast followed by more weeks of physical therapy, I shocked my doctor by getting my cast off in 6 weeks and requiring no PT. In fact, he told me essentially to keep doing whatever I was doing because PT couldn’t do a better job. Ain’t no marathoner going to make that claim.
- HIT is better for getting rid of belly fat.
- HIT makes you strong. REALLY strong. Like lift-the-whole-stack-on-squats strong. Do you know what is the number one reason people get carted off to old folks homes? They’re not strong enough to stand on their own and their families can no longer lift them to put them on the potty chair. So think about that for a minute.
- Getting through your weekly HIT session prepares you mentally and physically for whatever stressor you may encounter in the week. All exercise helps protect against the effects of stress, but for me, HIT gives me a confidence and resiliency I’ve never experienced with any other type of training.
I’ve been training with high intensity training for almost 30 years. In fact, October 10, 2016 will be my 30 year anniversary. I’ve never written that date down anywhere, but I always remember it. It’s been that important to me.