High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts and the Benefits

When a new patient comes to see me for a specific health problem, that is their primary focus. However, when I treat patients at my practice I focus on the root cause(s) of their problems and it may not just simply be low back pain from wear and tear through sports or if they have a physically demanding job. There are many factors at play like do they exercise? What is their diet like? Do they take supplements? Or if they are exercising what type of exercises are they performing and is it potentially hurting them or making their health issue even worse. I will also have patients that are looking to improve their overall health with chiropractic and they usually ask me “what is a good exercise routine?” or “What exercises should I be doing outside the office?” Both are great questions because I want my patients to not just correct their ailment but improve their overall health and wellness. In this day and age, it can be very confusing and intimidating when it comes to picking an exercise routine. Through my education, knowledge and my own experiences I almost always lead each of my patients down the same exercise path, which is called “HIIT” aka High Intensity Interval Training.

I like to think of high intensity interval training as an all in one type of routine, leaving almost nothing out and this is why I love these exercise routines and recommend them to my patients unless otherwise contraindicated. There are many variations on HIIT routines but they all will integrate upper and lower body resistance exercises as well as core and cardio exercises. I like high intensity interval training routines because they typically get great results both with weight loss, muscle strength and endurance as well as overall functionality for day to day lifestyle routines. One of the great things about these exercise routines is that because of the way they are designed you only have to do them for about 20-30 minutes to get a great workout but you can still do them for as long as 45 minutes to an hour depending on the routine and your level of fitness. In the past people would go to the gym for hours multiple times a week and wonder why they were getting mediocre results. Now I can’t disregard diet in this case because that plays a huge role as well if you are looking to not only improve your health but also lose weight and build lean muscle. With that being noted, if we are just focusing on the exercise routine studies now show that through these workouts 20 minutes alone can have the same benefit as a non HIIT one hour workouts. So, whether you work late, you are a stay at home mom/dad or you are constantly living in and out of hotels for business trips these exercise routines are compatible for everyone.

So, what is a HIIT routine like? A HIIT or high intensity interval training routine will be performed with little rest in between exercises (10-20 seconds), taking 3-4 actual water breaks for 30-40 seconds after completion of a single round of exercises. So, after a proper warm up and stretching protocol (which is incredibly important to prevent injury), you will begin your workout. I will typically recommend doing about 3 of these routines a week, one to give your body time to recover in between workouts and also to work out specific muscle groups when isolating them for resistance and muscle tissue breakdown.  So, on day one if you perform exercises that specifically breakdown chest and back muscles then the exercises will be based on those muscle groups. On your second day, you could work out your arm muscles like your biceps and triceps as well as your shoulders. On the last routine of the week you will exercise the leg and abdominal (core)muscles. During all of these routines most of the exercises selected will target your core/abdominal muscles because they have to contract to perform the exercises and to do the routine properly. You can always throw in a couple abdominal exercises at the end of a routine as well but don’t overdo it to prevent injury. A round of exercises could consist of anywhere from 4-12 exercises depending on your routine, time, etc.…After a round is completed you can take a slightly longer break and get a quick drink of water. It is important though during these breaks to not sit down and rest rather move around or lightly jump or bounce in place doing ballistic stretches (stretches with movement) as opposed to static stretches (stretches without movement), to stay loose, keep your targeted heart rate up and prevent injury. A HIIT routine can have anywhere from 2-6 total rounds of exercises, again depending on the routine, time, muscles being targeted in the workout, etc.…. When you perform an exercise, you pick the weight and repetition range. So, if you are just starting then use a lower weight or resistance and do more reps. Once you get comfortable you can flip this by increasing the resistance or weight and lowering the repetition range. Typically, higher weights will require a repetition range of 8-10 and a lower resistance will be performed between 12-15 reps. If you are somewhere in-between or moving up in your resistance then a rep. range of 10-12 is perfectly fine. Due to the fact that you take minimal breaks in between exercises and some exercises require moving around it creates a cardio benefit to the routine.

Now that I have explained how these routines typically work I am going to give an example of a couple HIIT workouts. I will go back and use the example before of a week with 3 high intensity interval training workouts that consisted of a chest and back day, a bicep, tricep and shoulder day and a legs and abdominal day. Now let’s keep in mind that these routines can be modified if you belong to a gym and you have more at your disposal or you travel a lot for business and you need to do these routines in your hotel room. This example will be somewhere in between for someone performing the HIIT routines from the comfort of their home. So, on day one with chest and back muscles being the focal points for exercises you would perform:

Day 1

Chest/Back: (resistance bands can be used instead of weights and/or pull-ups if a bar is not accessible or you are unable to perform more than 12 pull-ups then perform max pull-ups and use the resistance bands in the same motion). Take 10-20 second breaks in between each exercise.

Warm up (with proper stretching) roughly 5 minutes

1.) Standard push-ups -as many as you can

2.) Pull-ups (reverse grip)-as many as you can

3.) Dumbbell fly press on a stability ball -pick your weight/rep. range

4.) Bent over rows -pick your weight/rep. range

*water break (30-40 seconds)

5.) Military push-ups – as many as you can

6.) Pull-ups (wide grip)- as many as you can

7.) Lateral crawling push-ups-as many as you can

8.) Superman/Plank alternation-hold each exercise for 10-15 sec. and repeat 3x

**water break (30-40 seconds)

***Repeat exercises 1-8 with water breaks, then do a 5-minute cool down with proper stretching.

Day 2

Bicep/Tricep/Shoulder:(Resistance bands can be used instead of weights if they are not accessible, using the same motion as the weight, for example: bicep curls- step on the middle of the band with one foot and perform a curl.) Take 10-20 second breaks in between each exercise.

Warm up (with proper stretching) roughly 5 minutes

1.) Standing bicep curls-pick your weight/rep. range

2.) Lying down tricep extensions-pick your weight/rep. range

3.) Upright rows-pick your weight/rep. range

*repeat these 3 exercises

**water break (30-40 seconds)

4.) Lateral/arms out bicep curls-pick your weight/rep. range

5.) Chair dips-as many as you can

6.) Shoulder press-pick your weight/rep. range

*repeat these 3 exercises

**water break (30-40 seconds)

7.) Hammer curls-pick your weight/rep. range

8.) Overhead tricep extensions-pick your weight/rep. range

9.) Front and side shoulder raises-pick your weight/rep. range

*repeat these 3 exercises

**water break (30-40 seconds)

***Cool down for 5 minutes with proper stretching

Day 3

Legs/abdominal(core): (For some of these exercises weights can be used but if they are not accessible then body weight alone is fine for resistance). Take 10-20 second breaks in between each exercise.

Warm up (with proper stretching) roughly 5 minutes

1.) Squats w/dumbbells-20 repetitions

2.) Lunges w/dumbbells-10 repetitions per side

3.) Abdominal crunches w/stability ball-as many as you can

4.) Calf raises w/dumbbells-20 repetitions

5.) Wall chairs-hold for 10-15 seconds then move to a lower position on the wall and hold for another 10-15 seconds, then move back to the original position (4-6 holds).

6.) Trunk twist w/dummbells-30 repetitions

*water break (30-40 seconds)

7.) One legged balance squats-15 repetitions per side

8.) Lateral side lunges-12 repetitions per side

9) Lying V abdominal holds-10-15 second holds, then run in place for 10-15 seconds (repeat 3x)

10.) Walking squats-6 forward 6 backward (repeat 2x)

11.) One legged balance hip extensions-15 repetitions per side

12.) Steam engines (abdominal)- as many as you can

*water break (30-40 seconds)

**Cool down for 5 minutes with proper stretching

There are many benefits to using a high intensity interval training routine as opposed to an elongated cardio or resistance routine. With cardio routines, you will only burn calories and create a metabolic bump when you are exercising. However, with HIIT routines your body is constantly changing the resistance, bursts of energy levels, repetitions and most importantly your heart has to change and adapt to this which is triggered by all 3 types of muscle fibers: slow, fast and super-fast and only slow are triggered through cardio. When you create this changing dynamic with HIIT workouts you can burn calories hours after you are done exercising not to mention build more lean muscle. Now if you are going to perform a resistance workout but at a moderate to slow pace then you will burn some calories and build some muscle but again you are not triggering all of the muscle fibers available and there is only a small amount of the changing dynamic going on. When a group of people performed high intensity interval training routines vs. cardio the interval group lost 3 times the amount of fat while only exercising for half the amount of time. This is why HIIT routines are much more beneficial then cardio or standard resistance workouts.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, patients come in for one thing but they leave my practice gaining many health benefits and tutorials on how to maintain their health and continue to improve it. Just like treating a patient there is not always one root cause or element that is the source of the problem. So, along those lines by treating the patient with chiropractic care and adjusting the misalignments, these patients can now perform HIIT exercises without their original discomfort and see all of the amazing benefits that high intensity interval training has to offer. I mentioned how important diet was before and you can refer to my article The Essential Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle for more information on that as well. Keeping in mind that all of these are important for your health and to equally balance them to maintain an enjoyable and wellness lifestyle.

If you are trying to get back in shape and improve your overall health then contact us today and click the link for your FREE consult!