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Get Fit with HIIT: New Year and a Fit New You, Sports Conditioning and Interval Training

New Year’s is traditionally the time when people make resolutions to be better people, to lose weight, make more money, drop bad habits and to develop new ones. Most of these resolutions last about as long as the bubbles on the champagne popped at midnight.

It is possible to maintain those resolutions and drop that excess fat and build muscle—by making some simple changes to your workout routine, including adding some high intensity interval training into your workout schedule. One of the reasons you will have a better shot at keeping your fitness resolution with HIIT is because you get more bang for the buck—in just 20 minutes of HIIT you get the same cardio benefit of running for 2 hours.

If you want to get in shape for a specific sport like skiing, basketball or soccer, then you can use interval training to simulate the type of workout you would encounter in that sport by varying the length of time, or distance, that you sprint. To excel at your sport you need to be able to push for different periods of time, unlike a sprinter who might run the 100 yard dash and therefore only needs to work on one set distance.

Interval workouts are flexible—you can start no matter your level of fitness, you can use interval training indoors or out. So even if you want to train for skiing, you can incorporate interval training workouts on the treadmill at the local gym or the track at the local high school.

Adjust the times and distances as you need based on your level of conditioning. If you are on a treadmill, stair stepper, elliptical or other machine, set it to manual mode and change the intensity, incline or speed with each interval.

The main difference with this kind of interval training is that because you will be going for longer periods, you won’t be sprinting in any but the shortest distances. Instead, you will be working out at the highest level you can to maintain that time or distance.

Of course, always be sure to stretch and warm up your muscles as well as your cool down to get the maximum effect and to minimize risk of injury. 

3-5 minute warm-up: very low level work, gradually increasing to the end of the warm-up period.

Phase 1: long distance at 1:1 ratio

  • Run at high speed for a full minute or a set distance like the length of the football field or once around the track.
  • Follow that by jogging or walking for a full minute. In the pool, this could be 4 lengths of the pool followed by an easy length or 2.
  • Repeat.

Phase 2: middle distance at 1:1 ratio

  • Run at high speed for 30 seconds and then jog or walk for 30 seconds. Swimmers alternate 2 lengths of the pool with an easy length.
  • Repeat for a total of 4 sets.

Phase 3: short distance or sprint at 1:3 ratio

  • Run at full sprint for 15 seconds, followed by 45 second recovery.  In the pool, sprint one length every 60 seconds
    Repeat for a total of 6 sets.

3-5 minute cool-down: low level work, gradually decreasing to the end of the cool-down period.

As your conditioning level increases and you recover more quickly you can:

  • Increase the time or distance of the high intensity period—maintain your work to recovery ratio.
  • Increase the number of sets—but keep the workout to no more than 30 minutes overall.
  • Increase the intensity level on the longer distance phases, by either pushing yourself to go further, go faster, or kick up the incline on the treadmill.

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