If you tend to do workouts that involve endurance, it's time you thought about kicking up the intensity - at least some of the time. While endurance workouts are still good for you, there are several great health benefits that you get from doing high intensity workouts. You may need to break more of a sweat than you're used to, but the good thing is that there are plenty of fun ways that you can increase your workout intensity. Check out some of the great benefits of high intensity workout routines and some examples you can try.
Benefits of High Intensity Workouts
When compared to endurance workouts, high intensity workout routines offer several great benefits, including:
- Get done faster: Because you are pushing yourself hard in high intensity workouts, you will end your workout faster, making your workout less of an intrusion on your daily routine.
- Burn more fat: Fast-paced workout routines encourage the release of fat-burning hormones in your body. These hormones are especially important because they keep working to burn off fat even after you're done working out.
- Shed calories quickly: WebMD explains that, just as a car uses more fuel as it speeds up, the higher intensity means that these types of workouts burn off more calories in a shorter period of time.
- Increase your endurance: Even though you are only working out for a short period of time, studies show that high intensity workouts still help when it comes to improving your endurance. That means that you are improving your cardiovascular fitness when you do quick bursts of exercise.
According to the New York Times, a high intensity workout involves pushing your heart rate to about 80 to 85 percent of your maximum rate. Because of this, high intensity workout routines may not be a good fit for certain individuals, including those who are at risk for heart attack or stroke. Additionally, the added intensity may be difficult for those who are older than 60, have joint problems or suffer from arthritis. If you suffer from any of these conditions, be sure to consult a doctor before adding high intensity workouts into your routine.
Workout Routines to Try
One of the great things about high intensity workouts is that they can involve fun sports and activities. Here are a few examples of high intensity workouts that you might try:
- Sprinting: Joggers and runners can benefit from putting a few sprints into their workouts. Start by jogging regularly, then time yourself for a 30 second sprint. When the sprint is complete, continue jogging for one or two minutes until your heart rate comes back down. Repeat this process for several sprints. As you get better, see if you can lengthen your sprints and reduce your recovery periods.
- Swimming: Alternate the pace at which you complete your laps in order to increase your fitness. Start with a few regular laps, then do two laps swimming as fast as you can. Follow this with four laps at a regular pace. Repeat this pattern several times. As your fitness increases, see if you can increase your fast laps and reduce while also decreasing the slow laps in between.
- Rowing: While you can certainly do this exercise on a rowing machine, it can also be fun to try it out on the water if possible. Start rowing at a slow and steady pace. Increase your rowing to a high speed for 30 seconds, then bring it back down to a slow and steady pace for one to two minutes. Continue this pattern for several repetitions. You can increase your resistance on the machine or go out in choppy water for added intensity.
- Cycling: Like rowing, you can do this on a machine but you might have more fun doing it outdoors on a real bike. Bike slowly, then go as fast as you can for about 30 seconds. Slow back down for a minute or two, then repeat. Work on increase your speed and distance each time you try this workout.
- Body weight exercises: One of the easiest exercises that you can do at home involves using your own body weight for resistance. Do 10 squats, 10 sit-ups and 10 push-ups as quickly as you can while still retaining the proper form. Then, do nine of each exercises, eight of each, and so on. Try to rest for only a few seconds between sets so as to increase the intensity. Try to improve your time for the entire exercise from week to week.
- Other options: Several sports, like basketball and soccer, are great options for this type of exercise since they involve quick bursts of energy mixed in with constant movement. You can also try other forms of exercises, like jumping rope, cross-country skiing, aerobics and dancing, as long as you mix in bursts of high intensity similar to what's described above.
With each of these exercises, keep in mind that it is important to warm up well beforehand by stretching and doing a light jog or other exercise. Then, be sure to cool off afterwards by walking slowly and possibly doing additional stretches.