I like watching American Ninja Warrior just as much as the next person. My 5-year-old son and I actually cheer out loud for the champions (especially the women!) and groan right along with all the poor competitors who wind up getting wet. These athletes are undeniably amazing and inspirational. They train hard much of the time and reap some superhero-like strength and endurance gains, not to mention a growing cult fan base.
However. I want to put it out there that just as hard-core as these athletes are, soft-core training is just as, if not more, important–especially if you are like most of us in the non-super-hero athlete category.
There is a ton of buzz around HIIT exercise that has come out in the last few years. HIIT is short for High Intermittent Intensity Training. The principle of this workout is to do a lot of work in a short amount of time in cycles of heavy loads, explosive body-weight lifts, and powerful cardio drills, combined with bouts of rest or active recovery exercises. There is plenty of science to back up the effectiveness of such workouts for weight loss, strength/power development, and agility improvement.
HIIT training can be a great fit for the following populations: Younger folks (jeez could I sound any more like I am 80?), already-fit individuals, or people who enjoy and tolerate intense exercise. What about the rest of us? I know personally that after sports in highschool, a tricky lower spine, some stress, 23 years of hair-on-fire group ex classes, HIIT workouts and I are not always the best of friends. I’m finding that at age 40, I can do about 1-2 intense workouts per week, and then I just need to (moderately) walk, bike, or do yoga for the next several days. Does that mean I should just throw in the towel? What about the many,many people out there who have fitness, wellness, or weight loss goals but find that HIIT workouts just don’t, well, work?
Great news! Just Google “consistency and exercise” and you will come up with thousands of articles and research to support the fact that no matter what type of exercise you are doing, the key to the results you want is to do it consistently. When you combine your exercise with small changes in nutrition, you are totally on the path to better health, increased energy, and falling at least “in like” with your body and all it can do! Here are three ways to build more exercise consistency, rather than intensity into your week.
- Pick a movement you enjoy. And, if the movement pattern involves your arms and legs, it counts. That could mean gardening, the Monty Python walk, or making snow angles as much as it means getting to the gym, the yoga studio, or the trails. Get the picture? #moveforjoy
- Pick a time where other stuff does not get in the way for 20 minutes or so. For lots of people, that means early in the morning. (Research shows the MOST consistent exercisers do it BEFORE anything else in the a.m.) Others do better by working out after the kids are in bed, or sneaking in a quickie over lunch–a walk and a few push-ups and squats.
- Embrace a “slow-cooker” mentality over a “microwave” approach. Often as adults, we don’t give ourselves credit for being in learning mode, and we expect too much too soon–especially with fitness and weight loss. Start with 20 minutes once per week. I promise that you will start to feel better about yourself. You may even also notice you sleep better on the day that you exercise. If that once-per-week appointment with yourself goes well for a month or so, try adding in one more exercise appointment per week. Think less about pushing the envelope, and more about making choices that continue to bring you joy. (I mean, really, does eating tons of sugar and fat bring most of us real lasting joy?) You might find in 3 to 6 months that the walk that began as a 20 minute stroll becomes a 45 minute hike because it makes you feel good. However, if you tried that on your first day off the couch, chances are you would probably be sore, potentially injured, and about as ready to do it again as getting a root canal. Please, for Pete’s sake, take baby steps if you want to stick with it.
So, HIIT workouts are great for lots of folks. They would never be my first recommendation for people just coming up off the couch, AND, if you don’t enjoy exercising that way, HIIT workouts won’t work for you.
The bottom line is, get out there Wobblers, and #moveforjoy. If you do that, you will #moveforever.
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