Is improving fitness in only one hour per week possible?
We are more time pressured than ever before. With longer working hours, less leisure time and additional demands on the little time we do have available, we have to make our training time as efficient as possible.
With that being said, is there room for a type of workout that can be done in a really short timeframe – as little as 1 hour per week?
Step forward, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This is a method backed by extensive scientific study and is used by personal trainers and athletic coaches the world over.
By reducing overall training time via higher-intensity work, the trainee is given time to rest and recover more effectively, reducing injury risk to the person training.
The approach works like this – you perform exercise at a really high intensity for a short interval of time. You then rest and recover for a short period, before repeating the exercise.
The principle is simple enough to understand – the work intervals are very high intensity. This forces the body to adapt quicker because it has been placed under more load than usual.
However, because the work intervals are such high intensity, they are also short. You couldn’t maintain such a high level of effort for long, so the intervals are purposely cut short, but repeated a lot of times. This amount of repetition then forces the adaption process.
In comparison to other forms of cardio training, HIIT has frequently proved to more efficient (it takes less time), more effective (better results) and safer (lower injury incidence) than more traditional ‘steady-state’ cardio where people run/swim/cycle/row etc for long periods of time at a steady state.
Adapting High Intensity Interval Training
One of the great things about high intensity interval training is that is can be adapted to the needs and requirements of the person training. It doesn’t have to be cardio based and in fact, the most effective forms of HIIT are usually resistance (weights) based or a hybrid of the two.
Anecdotal evidence from personal trainers shows that a combination of lifting weights and performing traditional cardiovascular exercise (such as sprinting) at a high intensity leads to dramatically improved body composition in a much shorter time period than with either approach alone.
This suggests that (and backs up a go-to approach to dramatic body composition from personal trainers) if your goal is rapid fat loss whilst maintaining or potentially even building muscle, a resistance-based high intensity interval training workout approach (coupled with a calorie controlled diet) is the way to go.
What Would a High Intensity Interval Training Workout Look Like?
The key to successful HIIT is to work hard and work fast.
Keep the effort levels high and the rest periods short. The workout is designed to be hard, fast and effective – it doesn’t last for long and it won’t require a 2 hour gym commitment. In fact, a good high intensity interval training session can last as little as 10 minutes if the intensity is high enough.
To make sure you are getting a series of good workouts, the suggestion is to go for 3 x 20 minute HIIT sessions per week. This keeps your training time limited to a single hour per week, but that hour is very high quality – remember in this case, we are looking at quality of exercise, not quantity of it.
The exercises selected are relevant to the goals. If you wanted to improve your sprint speed, the workout would be based around plyometrics and sprinting.
If muscle building is your thing, you’d look at big, multi-joint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench presses and shoulder presses in a circuit.
The key is to pick an approach that suits your training goals and outcomes.
Where Can I Get High Intensity Interval Training Ideas?
YouTube is a place to find all kinds of workout ideas. Here’s a video showing the kind of thing you can do at home…
If you train at a gym and want more inspiration on the go, there are fantastic eBooks available, including this one, with 52 HIIT workouts that uses a variety of different bits of gym kit. The book downloads directly to your phone and can be used anywhere.
With so many workouts in one place, you can quickly and easily find a High Intensity Interval Training workout to suit your training needs that day. In fact, with the 52 workouts in the book you’ll have a year’s worth of training all in one place.
So, is improving fitness in only one hour per week possible?
Absolutely, as long as you take an approach that will work quickly and efficiently. You need to work hard, you need to work fast and you absolutely must keep the intensity up.
You won’t build superhuman strength or enormous muscles in an hour per week, but you’ll certainly be able to improve your conditioning with the high intensity interval training workouts.