Banker's Health Care Group , a finance group that offers many different finance options for healthcare professionals, asked me to share a few thoughts about fitness trends. Banker's Health Care Group runs a blog designed to allow healthcare professionals to discuss different health topics. I appreciate this conversation because it keeps our healthcare professionals looking at new information and informed on different topics that we, as patients in their offices, might bring up. BHG asked me specifically to share some of my thoughts on HIIT vs "a back to basics approach", as outlined in this blog post on the BHG 360 blog.
First, HIIT = high-intensity interval training. Essentially you're supposed to work to your max effort for a set amount of time and then recover for a set amount of time. There are many things that are or could be HIIT. As a runner, I've done HIIT running by running intervals on the treadmill. I would run as fast as I could for a minute or two and then recover for two minutes and then repeat for several intervals. Running intervals helps increase speed in general, so they're great to do when you want to make your race time better.
As you know, I also started beach body's Insanity. I'm about half way through it and it's definitely what I would consider an HIIT workout (Shaun T calls it max interval training though). You do a move as fast as you can for a minute and then rest for thirty seconds. So far I've seen great results: My overall fitness level has improved, I've lost weight, and I've lost inches. I have fun doing the workout too, even though it is very hard because it's such a varied workout.
HIIT workouts can truly be tailored to any fitness level. Your intervals can be intense for you, no matter where you're at. If you're a beginner your HIIT workout can be jogging for one minute and then walking for two. If you're not a beginner you can sprint for one minute and then rest for one minute. If you're not a runner at all you can exert yourself to an intense level with any activity-- biking, rowing, walking, jogging, boxing, random other cardio moves (like Insanity or even Jillian Michael's shred workouts). But that's the key-- you have to push yourself to feel the effort and then recover and do it again. I also like HIIT because I feel like I can see my results faster. I spent a week running intervals and then the next week, I shaved a full two minutes off my 5k time. Insanity has yielded quick results too.
I think a more back to basics approach is also a good approach to take that incorporates more body-weight strength moves, like planks, push ups, and sit ups. I think this back to basics approach to fitness is also a legitimate way to go-- it requires no, or very little, equipment and it's something you can really do anywhere. You don't need to pay a lot of money at a gym to use your own body weight to train.
Ultimately I think no matter what type of activity or fitness philosophy you follow it's important to like what you do, because that's what will keep you committed to working out. For the most part I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" in reference to picking a style of working out. Injuries can happen no matter what you choose. My experience tells me that to prevent injury in any workout situation is to make sure your form is correct. If you're not sure about it, ask someone who knows to help you! I also have found legitimately warming up helps prevent injury-- you never want to blast full into a workout of any kind. Take a couple minutes to move around, stretch, and then go for it.