HIIT: 3 minutes of anything is hard
March 27, 2016
Historically, I have been Mr. Steady State Cardio. When I worked out with James T. Harris at XSport on Columbia Pike, I did do Zone work, including suicides and burpies and wind sprints; and, whenever I get to Spin I am sure I am doing 45-minutes of HIIT. But, between college Crew and 2012, all of my exercise had been steady state cardio — and I really think I did myself a terrible disservice. I am so excited to be surrounded by unlimited access to high intensity interval training in the form of my 30-minute sessions at 9Round in addition to the HIIT work I can start doing on my Concept2 Indoor Rower on my own at home.
Most of the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts I have tried have asked for 20-, 30-, 60-, and 90-second bursts of “as hard as you can” exercise before taking an interval rest. Boxing match rounds are an exhausting minute. Tabata demands 20-seconds of maximum intensity and 10-seconds of rest for eight rounds. My new gym, 9Round, demands maximum work for a full three minutes! 3 minutes of anything at a high intensity going all-out, is a lot.
After I tried out 9Round for the first time at my local 9Round Penrose, I told my girlfriend about the experience. After telling her about the 9 3-minute workouts with 30-seconds rest between rounds, and the 3 minutes of jumping jacks I needed to do and how I couldn’t get through all three minutes without resting for a second, she said
“3 minutes of anything is hard”
She didn’t mean that 3 minutes jogging or 3 minutes making eggs, she meant that anything done with intensity is hard to do nonstop for 180-seconds, even simple calisthenics like jumping rope and doing jumping jacks, especially when you’re not used to it, not a kid anymore, living a life a lot more sedentary than when I could jump rope for what felt like hours or the endless PT I did in my teens for JROTC, though I must admit that even all those push-ups, sit-ups, and side-straddle hops started somewhere (I don’t think they had invented burpees yet, thank god).
Before I scare you away, 9Round isn’t just for experienced athletes. While jocks will feel comfortable a challenged at 9Round, the magic of 9Round is that they have 1 trainer for every 9 people maximum. So, they can easily adapt and customize every single exercise that’s written on a whiteboard at every station into something you can do today. Can’t squat to your heels?
Can’t do a full lunge? Can’t do that many “boy” push-ups? I can’t. They’re always adapting workouts to me. I can’t jump rope yet, I don’t feel comfortable doing a lot of the jumping exercises right now (until the weight is off) so as long as I communicate with my trainer (or, more likely they can see I am struggling), I always get as hard and as intense a workout as I can handle today in a form, range of motion, and intensity that I can sustain today. Not since I worked with the amazing personal trainer, James T. Harris, at XSport, did I have this kind of customized training. So, please don’t read all of this and get scared away, OK?
After the workout yesterday at my local 9Round, 9Round Penrose, Dan Albrant looked at my readout from my Wahoo heart rate strap onto my Wahoo Fitness app on my Android, and told me, “you know, as you get stronger and fitter, your body will react less extremely to the work you put in. As your heart and lungs become more efficient, the extremes in your highs and lows, your movement through the heart rate zones, will be less spiky.”
What I think this means is that the more I go and the fitter I become, the shorter and shorter those 180-seconds will seem. That once I become fit enough to stop fighting my own body weight and when I lose some of that 75-100 pounds I have hanging on my stomach, hips, and chest, then my baseline will be more neutral and I can then really jump into each of the workouts provided every day in each of the 9 rounds and work them as hard as possible.
I have had the same experience before in many things: for the first year as a motorcyclist, I struggled as much with the bike and my integration with the bike and my lack of muscle memory as I did with the world around me. Now, everything is natural. I am now a better, safer, and more efficient rider. The same with yoga, when I did yoga: the first dozen classes had be shaking and sweating and fighting gravity and the poses; then, all of a sudden, I learned to focus on the poses instead of constantly fighting them. The same is true when on the sliding seat rowing, whether it’s on the water or on the Concept2 Indoor Rower — even now, after mastering the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery. Damn, I still can’t get the simple squat right every time, even today!
When I met my girlfriend, it seemed like her version of doing the elliptical, the stationary bike, the strairmaster, and the treadmill were very different than mine. I did mine while watching TV or catching up with my magazines and newspapers, my girl would turn up the resistance, the incline, and the speed and just about kill herself on them. I have been rowing on my Concept2 and covering so many miles on ellipticals and treadmills for the last 20-years, putting in 30, 45, 60, 90, and sometimes 120 minutes and miles and miles on them, none of those minutes, miles, and meters were done with intensity.
While I wouldn’t say they were wasted minutes or miles, I must say that after spending a couple years now Spinning at Biker Barre, I get it. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is what I am doing when I am Spinning with Jordan Ritchie and Katie Gaffken, what I was doing when I was doing wind sprints, suicides, hill sprints, and erg pieces back in high school and college — and when I was doing PT for JROTC back in high school, those side-straddle hops were surely not only getting me sweaty and strong but they were also working my heart.
As you know, I am obsessed with indoor rowing, kettlebells, Spinning, and 9Round cardio kickboxing classes. Until now, my erging and kettlebell workouts have been pretty low-intensity. Because of how Concept2 Challenges work, the number of meters performed have always
According to ACE Fit, “High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a system of organizing cardiorespiratory training which calls for repeated bouts of short duration, high-intensity exercise intervals intermingled with periods of lower intensity intervals of active recovery.”
Still, a 3-minute burst of activity with only 30-seconds of active recovery is still pretty intense.
One of the reasons why I really love HIIT is because HIIT results in EPOC, which speeds your metabolic rate and translates into a metabolism boost for up to 48 hours.
This means I’ll still be burning fat even after I’ve left the gym.
According to Greatist, you should be careful with HIIT. If you’re a beginner and not really in shape, aim at doing a high intensity interval workout up to two times a week.
If you’re a workout regular, 2-4 times a week is a good suggestion. If you’re an experienced athlete, you can do it every day if you want, from 4-7 times-a-week, though I would really suggest taking at least one day off for a deep rest.
My goal from now on is to make sure I do 4-7 HIIT workouts a week.
To make sure I do them smart and that I track them all so that I can see my progress. I have only returned to actively working out every day in the form of running, jogging, rowing, kettlebell swings, walking, and rowing, on March 1st, if I’m being honest, starting with the 2016 Concept2 Mud Season Madness and continuing with the 2016 Concept2 World Erg Challenge.
This has jump started me to returning to the erg in a big way in addition to spending more time at 9Round as well as prioritizing rides at Biker Barre and also races such as the Crystal City 5k Fridays that I will be starting on April 1 and I will be signing up for. It’s a series and will take place on Fridays in April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at 6:30pm. I am very excited.
And though these races will be, for me, steady state cardio workouts with maybe a burst of speed at the end, they’re important for me to do in order to “fake it ’til I make it” into a world where being active, being sporty, being healthy, and being fit are not things that are antithetical to who I am but are completely baked in.
What when people think of Chris Abraham, they think “athletic.” Even more, when I think of myself, I think “athlete.”
With me luck and please let me know what you’re up to. I have been very excited to become part of fitness communities on the blogosphere, on reddit, on Facebook, and even on Twitter.
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