Recently I have had to change the way I’ve been training. I was embarrassed by the fact I couldn’t run for a few miles comfortably. I can do 15 pull-ups in a set but I can’t run a mile. My aim is to be able to do everything. I want to have the ability to go for a run and have fun. Martial Arts is my sole focus for training, however, this means I often neglect certain things. I used to think that this would be sufficient to keep my cardio up… I was wrong. I got to do the bleep test to see how I did. I was going into this thinking it would be easy and I should be able to ace this, I got to 8.8 which was our stopping point and I was gassed. I can grapple for an hour but I can’t run for about 10 minutes? Time to change something up.
This is where interval training comes in. Now I have a very short attention span, especially when it comes to running on the treadmill or even going for a run around the same route day in, day out. But sprints, however – I can get my heart rate up to around 185-190 beats per minute very quickly. This is a great way to improve my cardio and help me control my breathing. My current aim is to be able to improve my rest time and be able to recover quickly. So now I will go into a bit more detail as to what the actual benefits of high-intensity training is. This term is relative to you. What one person finds an easy workout, another may not. The point of HIT is to get the heart rate up, rest periods relatively short and burn some calories, interval training is also one of the fastest ways to improve your cardiovascular health. Another great way to improving your fitness quickly is doing a protocol called PHA (Peripheral Heart Action), this involves pumping blood to different areas of the body alongside working your cardiovascular system. An example of this could be 3 minutes on a spin bike, 15 pull ups, 15 push ups and 15 jumping squats and repeat is 3-5 times.
Here are my personal top 8 benefits of Sprinting or doing HIIT training
- Increase calorie burning for the next 24-48 hours – doing HIT or sprints releases HGH which will help set the metabolism into overdrive. Also, your oxygen consumption will increase during exercise which burns more calories.
- Efficient – As mentioned earlier, I don’t particularly fancy going for a 45 minute run or pound the treadmill for an hour, I’d rather do 10 minutes of sprints than 30 minutes of slow paced cardio if I can help it. There are different energy systems at play. The shorter, more intense the sprint – the longer the rest interval and thus will lengthen the time of your workout. 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off is also a great alternative. Generally the shorter time on, the longer the rest.
- Cardiovascular health – Your heart will have to pump more blood around the body, this increases its efficiency and the lungs ability to exchange waste gases and Oxygen.
- Easy to do – You don’t need too much equipment, you can just get on a treadmill and run. You can do it outside in a field. Anywhere where you can run about 30 meters or so. It can even be done with various bodyweight exercises in quick succession. You can find some great examples online. Just scale your intensity to make sure you are working hard.
- Muscle building – Sprinting will help develop the hamstrings, glutes and quads. This won’t help massively compared to doing your usual squats, lunges, RDL’s but they will help slightly in leg development and you will notice a difference. Have you seen the Olympic cyclists legs? They’re huge!
- Athleticism – more explosiveness which will help with martial arts, box jumps and Olympic lifting. Better breathing, when you’re at very high beats per minute (upwards of 90% of your max heart rate) you’re going to be breathing out of your arse. Learning to control this is an excellent way to boost your performance – your breathing is the remote control of your body, learn to control this and you will learn to control a lot of things! Lastly, doing interval training will help you to withstand the build-up of lactic acid and get you working more anaerobically which is important for when you are in competition, the pressure is high and you’re getting tired. Those extra sprints will help.
- Mental Clarity – endorphins released during exercise will improve your mood, help you think better and improve your focus. Once you learn how to focus on your breathing your focus will be improved 10 fold. Your mood will improve quickly and going to the gym or doing some HIT will give you time to think and make decisions which help you improve your mood. The endorphins also have loads of great health benefits by themselves. I’ll write up an article on the benefits of increasing your endorphin levels.
- Clearer Skin – This is true for all activities that make you sweat, not just HIT. The pores on your skin will open to release sweat, this also flushes out toxins. Just be sure to wash soon afterwards as you don’t want these toxins staying on the skin. This is also further helped by the fact you are relieving stress by exercising. Less stress = clearer skin.
Disclaimer: If you have not taken part in physical activity or are starting a new regime please consult your doctor first. It will take a while to work up to being able to work at high heart rates, take your time and work up slowly.
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