Anaerobic exercise and HIIT. Worth the pain?

Anaerobic exercise and HIIT. Worth the pain?

What’s the toughest part of your workouts?  Those moments when you’re literally gasping for breath, ready to drop or throw up? 

Welcome to the pain of anaerobic exercise. So how can something which feels so bad be so good for us?
 

What is it?

Anaerobic literally means ‘without oxygen’ (as opposed to aerobic which is ‘with oxygen). The good news is anaerobic training is always short. Why? Because it’s all-out effort which can’t be sustained for long. Think along the lines of sprinting 100m compared to running a marathon. This is the essence of HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training
 

Still interested? Good, you should be, the benefits of HIIT include:

  • Quickly conditions the heart. Studies show that both your aerobic and anaerobic systems are developed in less time when exercising anaerobic ally. e.g. 3 minutes of tabata has been equated to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise. Increase your anaerobic power, and you also build your endurance.
  • Builds lean muscle mass. Intense exercise requires speed and power. Muscles give all-out effort and therefore build quickly. 
  • Burn more fat. All that extra muscle burns more calories. Studies also show the higher the exercise intensity the more post-workout calorie burn. As an added bonus, intense exercise also suppresses appetite.
  • Boosts your mood. The lactic acid produced by anaerobic exercise triggers higher levels of mood-enhancing chemicals. You might feel bad at the time but you’ll feel great after!
     

Ok, you’ve convinced me. How do I add it to my workouts?

  • Add intervals. Add short (15 – 60 seconds) sprint sections to any cardio activity such as running, cycling and swimming.  
  • Lift weights. Lifting heavy weights in a short period of time builds muscle mass.
  • Do plyometrics. Explosive exercises such as jump squats is great anaerobic training.  10 seconds bursts are enough to start with.
  • Exercise classes. Look for classes such as Spin and Zumba which include both aerobic and anaerobic elements.
  • Use hills and resistance.  Most cardio machines can give safe anaerobic workouts by adjusting the intensity.

Anaerobic training will boost your gym workouts. Start right now!

Comments

gurjit s.
16 September 2014

gurjit s.

its went u think u can't you'll get that drive which will push you to the next level - once incorporated it'll give u that turbo boost

Katie M.
30 May 2014

Katie M.

I love HIIT, I skip between sets of exercise for 40 seconds - normally 30 sets, sometimes more. I also do a lot of plyometrics in my routines. It's made a huge difference to my fitness and physique, but the Problem is the high intensity impact is leaving me with shin splints - right now I can't even run across the road. Looks like I'm going to have to do more low impact exercise, like kettle bell swings.

Mike D.
28 May 2014

Mike D.

Emma, you don't have to do this at every workout. Personally, I dread doing anything high intensity. But I do try to do some short 'bursts' a couple of times a week.

Olivia C.
28 May 2014

Olivia C.

Fantastic list of exercises here. I do a lot of them and I'm amazed at the benefits they've had to my body shape and fitness.

Elliot M.
28 May 2014

Elliot M.

The benefits of HIIT are that you can fit it around a lunchbreak as well, you don't need hours to do a workout.

Emma C.
27 May 2014

Emma C.

Sounds good to me. Should you try to do this at every workout?

Frank H.
26 May 2014

Frank H.

Plyometrics are built into all my workouts - others wonder what I'm doing but when I explain many often give them a go themselves - the benefits really are worth it. I feel like my workouts are so much more effective now I'm adding at least a few plyometric exercises to the end of each.

craig t.
26 May 2014

craig t.

Oh yes, this is my workout. I LOVE the short intense effort of anaerobic exercise moments. It makes you feel very powerful to be in charge of your body when it's screaming at you to stop. Only good for a few seconds though, and you really do feel the physical benefits quickly.

Mike D.
22 May 2014

Mike D.

For me, consciously adding in some anaerobic training made a big difference to my fitness in a short time. Definitely worth knowing about. Thanks.

Freya W.
21 May 2014

Freya W.

I know this is something I should do more of. Great post.

Pete R.
21 May 2014

Pete R.

Interval training is tough! I do the run from lamppost to lamppost method, altering my stride for each section. It's a killer, but it really helps fitness.

Sasha B.
21 May 2014

Sasha B.

I wonder if this is why I find my stamina improves quickly when I add sprints to my runs. Just simple stuff like 'i will run my fastest to the next lamppost', but it really makes a difference and feels like my lungs have more room in them!!

Trevor D.
20 May 2014

Trevor D.

definite no pain, no gain here! I will try some interval sprints, 15 seconds sounds good to me at present!

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