People tend to view intervals only as this all-out, as-hard-as-you-can-go, very intense exercise. That either scares them off or it makes them think that type of exercise isn't suitable for them.
MYTH #1: EVERYONE CAN DO A HIIT WORKOUT
Just like you would not run a marathon – or even a half marathon – without training, you also shouldn’t probably go all out on a HIIT workout overnight. According to Len Kravitz, Ph.D., professor at the University of New Mexico and Micah Zuhl, M.S., assistant professor at the Central Michigan University, you need to be careful when starting or restarting an exercise program. “Beginning with HIIT may increase the chance for injury and muscle soreness,” both Kravitz and Zuhl warn in a recent paper they published on endurance training. It’s better to start with low-intensity aerobic exercise until you can run for 30 consecutive minutes at a moderate intensity, they advise.
MYTH #2: HIIT AND SMIT ARE THE SAME THING
Many people are actually doing supramaximal interval training (SMIT) and mistakenly calling it HIIT. HIIT involves performing high-intensity exercise intervals, interspersed with low to moderate-intensity exercise. SMIT, by contrast, involves performing all-out bursts of exercise, interspersed with full rest periods, or no activity. Confusion and mislabeling aside, SMIT could be a more effective training method. A 2013 study published in the European Journal of Sport Science looked at the endurance and sprint benefits of high-intensity and supramaximal interval training. The researchers found that SMIT led to greater improvements in performance than HIIT or continuous running. SMIT also provided the greatest benefits for physically active people, especially for women. You can’t always do SMIT training, as your body will become adapted to the type of stimulus, making your effort less effective. Plus, you’re also more likely to lose interest when you’re doing the same type of conditioning. That’s where HIIT comes in. Try incorporating both SMIT and HIIT training to make your workouts more comprehensive, effective and interesting.
MYTH #3: HIIT IS THE ONLY WORKOUT YOU’LL NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT AND STAY FIT
It’s no secret that a well-designed strength training program can significantly increase strength, power, athletic performance and physical appearance in both men and women. But, what many people don’t realize is the importance of muscle in the fat loss process. Put simply, muscle is metabolically active tissue, as it is the physical place in your body where fat is burned (i.e. used as energy). So, the more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories/fat you’ll burn throughout the day, even while you sleep ─ because more muscle tissue requires more energy. Your body is like your car. If you put a bigger motor in your car, you’ll burn more fuel while driving. With this analogy in mind, having more muscle will help make your interval training efforts more effective by helping you burn more calories. This is why strength training and maintaining muscle with proper training and eating strategies is absolutely critical for fat loss. The winning workout plan combines interval training with a comprehensive strength training plan.
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