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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!