Pain is… well, PAINFUL, even if it’s for a good cause. So when considering what type of exercise to do, instinctively many of us would choose the least painful option.
Would you sprint up a steep hill or take a leisurely walk down a windy road? Would you do a few repetitions with low-resistance exercise bands while watching an episode of NCIS or curl a 35 pound dumbbell until your arms felt like two fried eggs hanging on a nail?
The questions is…should YOU do high intensity exercise/training (HIT) or stick with the traditional variety? The answer is not always one size fits all, and there are pros and cons.
Reasons to do HIT
So here are several reasons to do HIT, and several reasons to reconsider…
- HIT provides better results with less time in the gym.
- HIT amplifies metabolism better than non-HIT training.
- HIT causes release of endorphins which elevates mood more so than steady state exercise.
- HIT leads to natural spikes in growth hormone and testosterone, both important for improving lean muscle mass and inducing fat loss.
- Basically, for all the reasons you are exercising, HIT achieves better results.
All one has to do is compare the physique of a marathon runner compared to a sprinter in the Olympics. The former is thin and ill appearing the latter are built like linebackers.
Now a few reasons to reconsider or alter your approach.
Reasons not to do HIT
There is a term called anaerobic threshold (AT) which essentially defines a certain level of activity, above which the body cannot bring in enough oxygen for the demands of the body. At that point, your body switches to anaerobic metabolism, which is a trigger for some of the positive metabolic and hormone effects as above.
The point of HIT, with regard to cardio exercise, is to surpass the AT in intervals so as to have the strongest trigger.
Reasons to reconsider HIT
Now a few reasons to reconsider HIT…
- As discussed, the intensity of exercise is important. However, if someone is not sure about their heart health, they should consider getting a health screening and/or fitness test before beginning HIT training. One of the reasons HIT training works so well, is that it challenges your cardiovascular and muscular system. HIT may trigger a problem if you have a pre-existing undetected condition.
- Depending on what type of HIT training you are doing, it may be hard on the joints. Better to try HIT on an elliptical machine or stationary bike as opposed to sprinting on a treadmill. The latter can cause injury preventing or delaying progress.
- HIT training makes healing time all the more important. The interval of rest between workouts increases with the more intense the exercise. Allow your body to heal, repair, and build to achieve optimal results.
Don’t get me wrong, all exercise is good! Though for the right individual, with HIT, a more efficient exercise can be achieved and with less time in the gym and better results!
To your health,
Brian E Lamkin DO