How to get fit – even if you hate exercise
Okay this post is a little later than promised. I’m sorry. I’ve been working very hard on some important research proposals – looking into the effects of different types of muscle rehabilitation strategies in patients who’ve had a knee replacement or who have suffered a fracture as a result of falling. Anyway, more about that later.
So you want to get fit? We’ve spoken about fitness and what we mean by fitness in the previous couple of posts. In lay terms, it’s your ability to do prolonged exercise – go for a run, and keep going for example, and the speed that you can keep going at.
Most people understand that to get fit means that you have to commit lots of time to treadmill pounding, exercise biking and rowing like you’ve got nothing better to do. It’s true, if you exercise for prolonged periods (30-60 minutes) at a moderate intensity where you’re out of breath (60%+ VO2 max) and do this 3 times per week, you will get fitter.
But, not everyone is up for that. So many exercise and weight loss programmes fail because prolonged exercise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
What if there was another way? What if you didn’t have to keep going…and going…and going? What if you could exercise by doing repeated bursts of just 30-seconds of exercise 4-6 times? Surely not, right? Enter HIT…
High Intensity Training (HIT)
Traditionally used by high-performance athletes, HIT (also known as sprint interval training) requires maximal effort during short periods of activity, whether that be sprinting, cycling etc… Studies have got the participants to exercise ‘all-out’ for 30 seconds against a resistance on a bike, or similarly on a rower. These efforts are HARD, but you get 4 minutes rest after each sprint and you only need to perform 4-6 in total.
Not only have people become fitter (1), the results are comparable to traditional endurance training (2). This means you don’t have to mentally prepare for a mammoth session (or block a heap of time out in your diary). Other benefits of HIT include favourable changes in muscle metabolic activity, insulin sensitivity, and this is even being researched as a treatment for obesity and weight-loss programmes.
What To Do?
Check with your doctor that you’re physically fit and medically ‘clear’ to do this. This exercise is stressful and not appropriate for everyone. And build-up your tolerance – don’t throw yourself in at the deep end if you’re not used to exercising.
All okay and ready to go? Here’s what to do
Exercise: Pick one that you have access to, e.g. exercise bike with resistance, a moderate hill outside long enough for a 30 sprint
Rest: 4 minutes after each sprint. Just sit on the bike and get your breath back or walk slowly back to the start.
Intensity: ALL-OUT !! No slacking or it won’t work. This is a sprint people!
Sessions: 3 session per week. Have a rest day between sessions
Good luck and happy training!
1. Bailey SJ et al. (2009). Influence of repeated sprint training on pulmonary O2 uptake and muscle deoxygenation kinetics in humans. J Appl Physiol 106: 1875–1887 (see the whole article here)
2. Gist NH et al. (2014). Sprint Interval Training Effects on Aerobic Capacity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 44:269–279 (abstract)