When it comes to modern approaches for weight loss and all-day energy, these days I’m all about one thing — metabolic training.
The word “metabolic” translates to the breaking down of food into energy. The high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) uses “bursts” or “push” sessions that alternate intense levels of exercise and brief rest periods, in timed intervals. The protocol yields amazing results. Just ask any speed and performance athlete!
Why the greatest results with HIIT? We burn more calories working at peak levels, alternating between active rest periods. The added benefit of the residual caloric burn after the workout — referred to as the EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). As your cells continue to need more oxygen, they are multiplying and working harder after the workout. These metabolic workouts indicate that something new is happening, which can change our workouts, our bodies and our weight!
If you properly prepare for a high-intensity workout, benefits such as increased stamina, strength, and accelerated caloric burn-off will soon follow.
Just remember, high-intensity training is just one tool in a vast toolbox that’s designed to keep us at the top of our game. High-intensity intervals can help you achieve your fitness goals in a time crunch! But let’s not lose sight of our long-term goal: life-long fitness. For a healthy life, exercise — at high or moderate intensity — is non-negotiable.
- Walk, run, or cycle to achieve the top level of intensity, and then scale back a bit for your recovery phase.
- Try LeanWalk, my 3-part series of one-hour audio workouts, which gradually incorporates a higher intensity metabolic workout.
Walk at a warm-up pace, pumping your arms as you walk to increase your level to a moderate intensity (where you can still carry on a conversation). Use the “push/squeeze” technique by pushing through your toes and squeezing your glutes while keeping your abdominals tight.
Now, walking at a moderate pace, you can increase to a higher level, staying concentrated on your walking technique. Slow back down to a recovery pace, breathing steadily and following your breaths with shoulder lifts and squeezes to release any tension. Get ready for a good stretch.
When you can comfortably walk a mile in 20 minutes or less, you are ready to move on to intervals of higher intensity or long walks.
In addition to walking, running, or cycling, you can use these two exercises in your high-intensity training to add some variety. Change it up by alternating levels and adding rotational moves.
How to do it:
- Place your weight on your right foot and pivot your body 180 degrees back to the left. Land on the left foot with a wide stance with your body facing left.
- As your left foot lands, price your core and squat down for two pulses. Sit back into a squat position, raise your back up just a few inches, quickly squat back down, and return to standing.
- Keeping your right foot as the anchor, pivot 180 degrees forward, until your body faces right. When you land with a wide stance, do two pulse-squats.
- Do 16 repetitions on each side
- Turn the pivoting into a propulsion (forward push): Instead of keeping the right foot anchored to the floor, explode into the air.
- As you jump, use the propulsion and your abdominal strength to rotate your body a full 180 degrees. So if you start facing left, do two pulse-squats, explode up into a jump, rotate while in the air, and land facing right. Do another two pulse-squats, and repeat in the other direction.
- Maintain a tight, stabilized midsection, making sure that every time you squat down, your weight is in your heels and your hips sink down behind you.
- Don’t let your knees jut out past your toes.
How to do it:
- Start with a basic squat: Stand with legs slightly wider than hip-width apart; lower the hips hips down into squat position.
- As you’re squatting down, reach the left hand toward the floor and the right hand toward the ceiling. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
- Press yourself back up to standing and then repeat on the other side: right and now reaching to the floor while the left hand reaches toward the ceiling.
- Add some propulsion. Instead of returning to standing in between each squat, press up into a small jump. Be sure to land with soft knees after each jump.
- Imagine that the propulsion is being driven not by your feet, legs, or momentum, but by your core. This will help ensure that you maintain safe and proper form while still getting the most out of this — and every — move.
- Start slowly and gently and keep your core muscles engaged throughout the move.
- Be sure not to lock the knees, landing softly each time.