I just got done at the gym tonight. After lifting heavy things, I tried something new. I’d noticed for a while that the elliptical (and, presumably other) machines have an “Interval” setting, along with “Manual”, “Fat Burn”, “Random”, etc.
I’ve been familiar with the principles of High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT) for a while, but my previous experiments with intervals had all been manual. This time I selected the Interval setting and let the machine handle the details. Basically, after a warmup you do 2 minutes at high-resistance, high-incline, followed by 2 minutes at low resistance, medium-low incline. I did my part and ran as hard as I could for the high-intensity intervals, and used the low-intensity intervals to try to bring my heart rate down and catch my breath.
I really enjoyed that, I think I’ll incorporate the Interval setting into my workout, maybe once a week. It got me to thinking though, as I was considering posting about interval workouts, that I should have a position on whether or not all the things that are claimed about interval training were true or not. And then I realized I don’t have to have a position. I don’t have to know, I don’t have to get to the bottom of it. Because when scientists and fitness gurus are talking about what method of working out has the best effect and greatest results for athletic conditioning and capacity, they’re talking about elite athletes. They’re talking about nibbling away at the last 1% of 1% of conditioning for people who are already epically fit to begin with. And, let’s face it, I’m not now nor ever will be an elite athlete. I’m totally comfortable with that, too – I already have a full-time job. I’m not going to be running in the Olympics, or entering a body building competition. I’m just working on maintaining my weight loss, and to do that I have only one real goal for my workout – TO DO IT.
The interval function aids that goal by making the time fly by. I was working out in the gym, which I hate, on a machine (boring), but 30 minutes flew by much quicker than usual because I was having fun with running really reallyreallyREALLY hard when I was on a high intensity segment, and catching my breath when I wasn’t. Anything I can make into a game increases the chances I’ll enjoy it, and I was playing a little game to see just how hard I could go before the interval ended (without killing myself or falling off).
Does HIIT “provide improved athletic capacity and condition, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning”? I don’t know. I don’t have to know. What it does for me is gives me variety in my workouts – anything I enjoy gets added to the list of tools I have in my arsenal for exercise, so I don’t get bored.
It’s one of the core principles of my efforts – trying new things and adding what I like to the list of available options. Even something as small as trying a new setting is worth an experiment – I’ve got the rest of my life to try everything out, might as well!