For most people, time is at a premium. The daily juggle of balancing work, family, friends and hobbies, can leave very little time for much else. The benefits of exercise on both your overall health, and tennis game, make prioritizing it important – however, this is often easier said than done. For those that don’t have an hour or more a day to spare, high-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) might be the perfect solution. It’s not for the faint of heart, but those with the mental fortitude to push through these short bursts of intense workouts, will reap the benefits of lengthier workouts, in a fraction of the time.
What is H.I.I.T?
H.I.I.T is a training style in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high intensity intervals, in short durations. It can be applied to any form of aerobic exercise – running, cycling, swimming, skipping, etc. The idea is to be breathless, but not winded, with your heart rate elevated (around 90% of your maximal effort), for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, with 1-3 minute less-intense recovery periods (50% maximal effort). Often people use a 2:1 ratio of H.I.I.T:recovery. For example, sprint for 1 minute, then jog slowly for 30 seconds. This cycle is repeated 4 or more times, with exercise sessions ranging from 4-30 minutes.
This high intensity form of cardio is considered to have greater benefits in increasing both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, and burning more fat than steady-rate cardio. H.I.I.T has also been shown to speed up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. Interval training will also greatly improve your quickness and endurance on the tennis court.
What Does the Research Say?
A 2015 research study found that H.I.I.T produced greater improvement in VO2 max, compared to traditional endurance training. VO2 max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, and reflects aerobic physical fitness. It is an important predictor of endurance capacity during prolonged, sustained exercise.
Another study showed that H.I.I.T regimens were more effective than moderate-intensity continuous training at improving blood vessel functions, and markers of blood vessel health.
Need an example to get you started? If you only have 10 minutes, you can try this program with your favourite form of cardio:
- Step 1: Warm up for 2 minutes
- Step 2 (sprint): Bike, run or swim at 90% of your maximal effort for 30 seconds
- Step 3 (recovery): Decrease your exertion to 50% for 1 minute
- Step 4: Sprint 30 seconds
- Step 5: Recovery 1 minute
- Step 6: Sprint 30 seconds
- Step 7: Recovery 1 minute
- Step 8: Sprint 30 seconds
- Step 9: Cool down for 3 minutes
In 7 minutes, you can perform the following body-weight routine that is sure to get your blood pumping and core firing:
- Step 1: 30 seconds jumping jacks
- Step 2: Wall sit for 30 seconds
- Step 3: Pushups for 30 seconds
- Step 4: Abdominal crunches for 30 seconds (don’t come up higher than 15 degrees off the floor, while performing the crunch)
- Step 5: Step ups onto a chair for 30 seconds
- Step 6: Squats for 30 seconds
- Step 7: Triceps dips on a chair for 30 seconds
- Step 8: Hold front plank position for 30 seconds
- Step 9: Running high knees on the spot for 30 seconds
- Step 10: Alternating lunges for 30 seconds
- Step 11: Push ups with rotation for 30 seconds
- Step 12: Side plank for 30 seconds on each side
There is, however, the possibility of too much of a good thing, and steady cardio activity does still have its benefits. The vast majority of physical functions – digestion, breathing, and your everyday movements, require the aerobic system. Anaerobic activities, including H.I.I.T depends on the aerobic system to help restore the body to neutral after each burst of intense output. The nature of H.I.I.T is more extreme, and can therefore be a shock to one’s system, so a proper warmup and cool down is strongly suggested. While it might not be a workout to do daily, it is definitely worth implementing on the days you are pressed for time, as well as a nice change-up to your regular steady-paced cardio routine.
About the Author:
Dr. Melissa Cutler is a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Tennis Professional and Running Specialist. Her treatments are aimed at optimizing physical well being and consist of soft tissue techniques, such as active release techniques, muscle stripping, trigger point therapy, chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture. For more information or to book a chiropractic appointment at the Spa, contact the Mayfair West Wellness Spa via phone 647-427-3036 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.