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Clever humans stay fit the easy way

As well as switching to Energia there are other characteristics the cleverest humans we have tested in the lab share. When it came to life the most successful humans knew the importance of getting and staying fit. If you are struggling to find or get back into a routine after overindulging at Christmas we are here to help!

Getting fit takes work, there is no doubt but there are ways to make it an easier adjustment. We love HIIT workouts as a way to improve your fitness in a shorter period of time than trudging through long distance walks or runs that take hours and are slow to deliver results.

staying fit the clever way

What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training is a work out that alternated between short periods of intense activity followed by periods of less intense or even rest. Studies have shown that HIIT helps improve fitness quicker than consistent cardio exercise like jogging.

Why should I use HIIT to get fit fast?

It doesn’t take much time: it’s the perfect type of exercise if you don’t have time to exercise! A session can be as short as 10minutes but for best results 30-40 minute sessions 3-4 times a week work best.

HIIT is a real fat burner: studies by universities in Canada and the US showed that those who followed a HIIT programme lost significantly more fat than those who completed steady cardio activity. Isn’t that what is it about for most of us?

Don’t need equipment: there are lots of HIIT workouts that only use your own body so you don’t have to invest in any expensive equipment.

Can work out almost anywhere: don’t like the gym? No problem, you can do a HIIT session in virtually any space there is room for you to extend your arms fully!

We spoke to Adam McLoughlin, Fitness Trainer in Clubvitae in Clayton Hotel in Sligo who loves HIIT because it increases metabolism so much, “The higher the heart rate the faster the metabolism. HIIT aims to keep the training phase of your exercise at 100% effort which will bring your heart rate up to 90 to 100% of your maximum heart rate, this will also have a knock on effect to your recovery phase where your heart rate will stay high as your body is craving oxygen.”

Avoid injury: warm up and stretch

If it has been a while since you have exercised, don’t forget to warm-up and stretch! Adam has some advice on stretching before you work out, particularly useful if you are going to try the workout he suggests, “the best way to stretch before your workout is to do mobile exercise related stretching, for example if you are going to do squats then ease down slowly into your deep squat position and stretch out all the muscles associated with squatting.”

Great HIIT workout:

To get you started Adam suggests a great full body, HIIT workout that you can easily do in your own home;

1. Squats
Position your feet shoulder with apart, Chest forward, shoulders back, sit back into the squat, squat down until your thighs are parallel to floor and accelerate back up.

2. Jump jacks
Stand with your feet together, pointing forward, arms hanging straight at your sides, in one jumping motion, bend your knees and extend both legs out to the sides while simultaneously extending your arms out to the sides and then up and over your head. Immediately reverse the motion, jumping back to the starting or neutral standing position and repeat.

3. Tricep dips
Place your hands on a chair or a low table, with your back to the chair, put your legs straight out while balancing on your palms, bend from your elbows, lower as far as you can, then press up to the original position and repeat.

Do each for 30 seconds and take a break for 10 seconds between every set. They will get your heart rate up and have you ‘feeling the burn’ in no time!

What if it is too intense? 

Although it doesn’t take much time and there are lots of health benefits, HIIT training is definitely tiring. If you are finding it too much there is another option that could work well called 10-20-30 training. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin, here is an example of how to use it:

30 sec – walk
20 sec – jog
10 sec - sprint

Offers similar results to HIIT but at a more manageable intensity level. It is particularly good if you are only getting back into exercise or starting to exercise.

What about food?

This is really important. Think of your body like a car, use the right engine oil and fuel and it will run like a dream. If you don’t, your engine will seize up pretty quickly. We know how addictive sugary foods are but they really don’t provide you with any nutrition. At the same time, you are setting yourself up to fail if you decide you are going to go cold turkey on sugar starting Monday, it’s a difficult addiction to break.

Instead make small changes that can have a big impact in time. Do you have a cappuccino in the morning? Switch it for an Americano and avoid drinking calories. Have a chocolate bar after lunch? Have a snack size version instead and then chew mint chewing gum or brush your teeth so you don’t crave more.

When it comes to food, Adam recommends, “never feel empty and never feel full”. Don’t starve yourself to lose weight or get fit, first off you won’t have the energy to exercise and secondly when you start to eat properly again your body will store more fat than it needs. On the other hand, don’t eat too much or you run the risk of slowing down the metabolism you are working so hard to speed up!

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t stick to your plan but don’t use it as an excuse to quit either, just start again the next day.

By combining HIIT with eating better you are likely to see results in a matter of weeks.

If you need to free up some cash for some new clothes for your fitter self, a clever place to start is looking at utility bills for a better deal.
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