Interval Training - What, Why, How

Interval training of some type makes an appearance in many of my one-to-one sessions as well as my own workouts and I often get asked about the whys and what-fors. I like to make clients aware of why I’m training them in a certain why so I decided to explain in this blog what HIIT (high intensity interval training) is, why I use this method of training so much, and how it can benefit you.

HIIT is simply a combination of short bursts of intense activity combined with periods of lower intensity activity, which could be the same exercise performed slower, or complete rest. For example, 30 seconds of movement paired with 15 seconds of rest. You can create all manner of different time and rep combinations, as well as increasing or decreasing rest times as you move further into the workout. You can also combine weighted moves with cardio, and make a circuit as long or as short as you like. The world really is your oyster when it comes to interval training.

Using HIIT training one-to-one with a client is good for many reasons – the short bursts of exercise increase fitness faster than lower-intensity exercise and because the work periods are more intense the efficiency of the workout is vastly improved.  I find the rest periods give clients time to mentally prepare for the work periods and really push themselves for the next interval. Because there are so many variations to try, HIIT is a good way to keep clients motivated and make sure they don’t get bored. For clients working on muscular endurance, adding in strength-based exercises is a reliable way to see the physical changes one may be striving for.

The benefits of HIIT are endless. At a base level, aerobic training will increase your cardiovascular fitness and give you a healthier heart and circulatory system. The short, sharp work periods burn calories at an accelerated rate and there are studies to prove that you keep on burning them long after you’ve finished your work out. Endurance will improve as a result of fat-loss and improved cardiac output. Finally, and in my opinion most interestingly, because of the increase in blood pressure during the work periods, the flexibility and elasticity of your arteries and veins improves too. Imagine a balloon – you could blow it up in one breath, or you could keep letting air in and out of it until it becomes more malleable and can hold a much greater amount of air.  I LOVE BALLOONS! And HIIT. 

Failure - And Why You Don't Need To Worry About It

A couple of blogs ago I talked about our Comfort Zones and why reaching this stage can be de-motivating for both clients and trainers alike. This week I’d like to go back in time and discuss a far more common fear around weight-loss and fitness, a fear that can engulf you before you even begin contemplating exercise, and a fear than can and does frequently put people off exercising at all – the fear of Failure.

With any journey you embark on there is always a chance that you may fail. Everyone, including the fittest of us all, will experience disappointment in some form. It could be a weight-loss or gain plateau, a failure to lift heavier from one week to the next, a diet-related fall off the wagon, regression in form due to injury or illness, the list is endless.

If you fail – remember two things. The first is that everyone, even that super-sexy model you follow on social media, has days were they don’t stick to a regime. We’re humans, not robots, and the road to fitness is never going to be a perfectly smooth one. I actually think that’s the beauty of training – a step back can be the encouragement you need to push farther and dig deeper next time.

Secondly – failure is relative. You’ve only failed if you think you have. You could choose to perceive a chocolate binge or a slower 5k PB as a step back or you could choose to look at the bigger picture and realise that it’s A-OK to afford yourself some down-time, and that by deciding to change the way you live is success in itself – as long as you stay focused, love yourself and recognise how awesome it is each and every time you achieve something, those times when you think you ‘failed’ will become an important part of your path to better health. 

A good trainer will never let you feel like you've failed. A good trainer will embrace every step you take, be it forward or backward. A good trainer will help you in any way they can to get you back on track and remind you how far you've come <3