It’s time to get off your tush, sweat, and make yourself sore!
Lately, I’ve been immersed in the study of aging, but more specifically how it relates to athletes. If you don’t consider yourself an athlete, that’s fine, this article probably isn’t for you. However, if you are an athlete or plan on using exercise to keep yourself young, then you may want to pay attention.
There are three main factors that happen as we age. They are decreased aerobic capacity, increased body fat, and shrinking muscle mass. At the moment, science hasn’t figured out how to reverse these inevitable characteristics. It has, however, figured out how to slow down the speed at which they occur.
High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is one very powerful answer. HIIT workouts are all the rage these days. You will find them online, at your gym, in your local spin class, and on your fitness DVDs. Essentially, it’s pushing yourself right up to or even beyond your limits for short periods of time, think sprinting.
Physiologically, your HIIT workouts will produce more Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which will ignite the mitochondria in the cells to produce more muscle mass. This is something that begins to decline once we turn 30 years old. I know it’s an over the counter supplement as well, but please don’t take the pill. I’m not a doctor and I’m not telling you what to do, but there are plenty of studies that show negative effects from HGH supplementation. The body knows best and it’s pretty miraculous in what it can do.
The workouts will also increase your heart rate and strengthen your respiratory system which will increase your lung capacity. VO2 Max, the ability to get oxygen into your muscles, has also been shown to be directly related to your aging body. The higher your VO2 Max, the healthier you are. How can you increase VO2 Max, you guessed it, high intensity workouts.
The great thing is that these workouts don’t need to be long. I know there are 7 minute workouts and 4 minute workouts, but come on, if you’re doing that, it’s time to re-prioritize your life. Give yourself at least 20 minutes of intense exercise and you’ll see immense differences. I started doing plyometrics about 8 years ago and I shaved 14 minutes of my Olympic distance triathlon time. All the lunging and jumping made my body so much stronger that my lungs couldn’t keep up with the pace my legs wanted to run.
I also know there are loads of studies that say walking is great exercise, which it is, but if you really want to stay strong, avoid injuries, and continue feeling vibrant, you have to put in the effort. I think the obesity epidemic has brought us to the point of just getting people off the couch and on their feet again. I’m all for it, but this is for those of us who are ready to take it up a notch. Those of us who want to work hard and reap the benefits.
If that’s you, welcome to club! Here’s a basic HIIT routine to get you started. I’ll see you at 100!
20 Minute HIIT routine:
Do this as close to exact time as possible, then repeat. It will get hard! Remember always consult your physician if you have any questions about whether or not you should do this kind of exercise.
Jumping Jacks 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Burpees 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Pushups 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Side Plank 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Other Side Plank 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Mountain Climbers 50 seconds, 10 second rest
High Knees 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Side Plank Pushups 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Squat Jumps 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Jump Lunges 50 seconds, 10 second rest
Photo Credit: flickr.com/fitapproach
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