“Feel the burn!” is an oft-repeated cue to get exercisers to work harder and longer than they normally would. A good many relish in this uncomfortable feeling, but depending on the circumstances, this “burn” isn’t always a reliable indicator of a good or effective workout. Here’s what’s going on and why “feeling the burn” is overrated.
I like this approach because it pushes back against the pressure people feel to exercise a certain way with a certain attitude. I was having a similar conversation last week with a friend who teaches fitness classes. She said, “whatever works for you. whatever makes you happy”.
It isn’t easy getting fit. There’s a lot to learn: Your workout itself, whether the number of reps you do matters, and then there’s all the gym and exercise lingo you’ve never heard before. Say no more. We understand, and we’ve put together this primer to help.
Keep in mind that fitness jargon is endless, so this list isn’t comprehensive. It is made up of many terms that you may have heard before but didn’t understand, or heard a trainer toss around.
High intensity interval training (or HIIT, for short) sounds simple enough: go as hard as you can for a short period, rest, repeat, and reap the benefits. HIIT is great, for sure, except what most people consider HIIT isn’t actually HIIT. Your all-out effort makes all the difference.
One thing that isn’t always clear is that unfit people should not try HIIT. Without a decent fitness base HIIT is counterproductive and more likely to cause injury. Beginners should stick to longer and less intense intervals to build up fitness and form as preparation for the demands of HIIT.
If you are diabetic or nearing it, this article means that this kind of training would be greatly beneficial to you in particular. HIIT can be adapted to the individual’s level of fitness just like any type of training regimen. It’s all about monitoring the heart rate really and adjusting the workout accordingly. Weight training also has the same effect on reducing insulin resistance, and is more effective than endurance training.
Many people internalize type 2 diabetes as having a lack of insulin; I think it better described as having an overabundance of insulin resistance.
Scientists have always struggled to understand exactly how short, few minutes, intense interval exercises can produce similar effects to much more time consuming endurance trainings.
High intensity interval training, also known by its acronym HIIT, has become very popular in recent years with beginners, professional athletes and patients with reduced muscle functions as it has clear health benefits. Now, researchers from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet discovered cellular mechanisms behind the positive benefits of HIIT and why endurance training is undermined by antioxidants.
4 minutes of exercise at a heart rate of suggested BPM (220-age)
3 minutes of easy work, attempting to get the heart rate down to ~135 BPM
Repeat 3 times
Disclaimer: If you are at high risk for a cardiac event it might be best to see a physician before participating in vigorous exercise like HIIT. But for the majority, there should be no reason to avoid this type of exercise. I’ve covered why raising your heart rate is good for you in the past.
The idea of max heart rate is debated (see this article), and can be very personal. I’m told that if you can talk while maintaining a high heart rate, it’s OK for you.