I walked into my client’s workout room after training her for two weeks (note: a total of two, one-hour sessions).
She looked upset.
Let me backtrack for a minute…
As an in-home personal trainer for over 20 years, I’ve heard it all. I’m like a bartender or hair stylist, a safe haven for secrets. The gossips stops here, so to speak.
Sometimes it’s harmless stuff, like, “I went out to dinner with [other client, who’s a friend of this client] and he ate an entire personal pizza by himself. Just in case he tells you he had a salad.”
Other times a client would say something so ludicrous I’d laugh. But sometimes they weren’t joking.
This was one of those times.
Back to my story…
She looked at me and told me she was upset and disappointed.
Me: Why? What’s wrong?
Client: I am not seeing results.
Me: It’s been only two weeks! (I’m laughing, thinking she can’t be serious)
Client: [giving me a look that could melt ice]
Me: Wait, you’re serious?
Client: YES, I’m serious. I thought I’d see something by now… muscle tone, definition.
Me: I’m here only once a week! That leaves plenty of time for you to undo any progress we made if you’re counting on just this single hour. Are you doing anything else on your own — strength training? Cario? Working on your diet as we discussed?
Client: [long pause, looks down] A little But still, I thought I’d be further along by now.
I hold myself back from an eye roll.
I explained how she’d need to work out at least two other times during the week, rein in her diet and do more cardio.
I also told her how visually seeing muscle tone could take time — longer than two weeks, for sure.
She didn’t want to hear it.
She quit working with me.
Here’s the thing: Regardless of how fast Amazon Prime delivers, we can’t pay extra to have our body respond to what we do at a faster and faster rate.
Yet, it seems some of us expect that we can physically advance like iPhones, complete with overnight software updates.
Our body cells don’t work that way.
However, there is a legit shortcut to calorie burning you can use to speed things up a notch: interval training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT refers to workouts that involve intervals of high-intensity, all-out, effort alternating with easier, lower intensity bouts of “rest.”
This alternating high-low effort produces something called EPOC, which sounds like a Star Wars character but is actually short for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.”
In simple terms, HIIT produces an “after burner” effect where your body continues to burn excess calories above and beyond the norm as it powers down and works to return your body to your pre-exercise state.
As a result, you burn more calories doing HIIT than you would a steady-state workout.
EPOC explains why you continue sweating after a tough workout even after you’ve showered. It’s your body trying to recalibrate itself back to its pre-exercise state.
A recent study out of Brazil involving over 1,000 people over four to 16 weeks showed that interval training sessions resulted in greater fat loss than steady state exercise.
According to the study, interval training resulted in approximately 28% greater fat reduction than moderate intensity, steady-state workouts.
The good thing about HIIT is you can adjust it to your fitness level by altering the times and rest periods of your intervals, which changes the overall intensity.
HIIT on a treadmill, for example, can include a fast walk on the “high intensity” end if you’re a beginner, or an all-out run if you’re very fit and your joints can handle it.
In addition to cardio HIIT workouts, you can also trigger EPOC by circuit training without traditional cardio.
The key: Use little to no rest between sets.
That, my Ageless friend, is what makes it hard. This rapid pace keeps your heart rate up similarly to doing cardio.
Problem is, some of the HIIT exercises aren’t great for those of us with less-than-perfect joints.
Take Mountain Climbers for example. These require good core stability along with upper and lower body strength – and they’re super exhausting if you do them for more than two seconds.
for example. These require good core stability along with upper and lower body strength – and they’re super exhausting if you do them for more than two seconds.
So even though they make a great addition to a HIIT circuit training program, MCs aren’t always doable for a lot of us over-50ers or beginners.
With that in mind, I created this sample HIIT program. You can do it whether you’re a beginner or advanced exerciser by using the various modifications…
1. WARM-UP: Walk/jog in place (or substitute your choice of cardio): 3 to 5 minutes
2. STEP-UPS or squats: 30 to 60 seconds
3. PUSH-UPS (wall, chair or floor): 30 seconds or until fatigue (you can’t do a single more rep in good form)
4. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS (modified): 30 seconds CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO
5. CHAIR DIPS: 30 seconds or until fatigue CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO
6. LOWER ABS ON CHAIR: 30 seconds or until fatigue CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO
— Rest briefly, then repeat 2 to 3 times.
NOW YOU… DO YOU PRACTICE INTERVALS? If so, how do they help you achieve your fitness or weight loss goals? Let me know in the comments below!
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Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.