You’ve probably heard of the term High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT). It’s talked about a lot in the media and quite often gets touted as the best and fastest “fat burning” workout around.

I thought it might be a good idea to clear up a few misconceptions about what interval training is and how it applies to Pilates.

Let’s start with what interval training actually is.

Firstly, we need to establish what the definition of fitness is. Unfortunately, this is not a simple thing to define.

There are many components involved in fitness…strength, cardio vascular fitness, flexibility, mobility etc. Each individual person will have different ideas and ideals on what fitness means to them.

As a fitness professional of over 35 years who has worked with hundreds (probably thousands) of people and trained myself for 40+ years, the best definition I have ever come across and agree with totally is by Joseph Pilates in his books Your Health and Return to Life.

He termed ideal fitness as complete balance and co-ordination of the mind and body with every single muscle developed to it’s fullest capacity with a uniform development of the body and healthy lifestyle choices to preserve the health and vitality of your organs.

So what does this have to do with interval training?

A big mistake that many people make in regard to fitness training, is that they focus on one particular component or activity which leads to an IMBALANCE in their fitness, rather than a uniform development of the body.

The reason people do this is due to the narrow focus on a goal or desired result. For example, someone wants to lose weight, reads that HIIT training burns fat and starts doing this type of training. For certain sports, this narrow focus is a requirement. Endurance athletes need to do primarily endurance training, body builders primarily need to do strength training. But most people need to work equally on ALL components of fitness.

Yes, interval training does create metabolic changes in your body, but to do this effectively at the right intensity to get the changes, requires an existing fitness and strength base. Interval training is an advanced training method.

An interval at high intensity requires a person to literally have nothing left in the tank and work to maximum capacity for every interval. That’s why the work:rest component of an interval training session is very important to get right for the persons fitness level and experience.

And intervals are not pleasant to do! You should be way out of your comfort zone and this is a major reason why they don’t get performed correctly…because it’s hard work!!!

You need to learn how to do intervals from a fitness professional who can guide you through the process and structure an interval training session appropriate to your level of fitness and experience.

In the beginning, you probably won’t get a big metabolic benefit, but you’ve go to start somewhere right?

Let’s go back to the question of why you need to do HIIT.

If we go back to the definition of fitness as being a uniformly developed body. If you never incorporate intervals in your training regime, no matter what your training is (including Pilates), you’re missing not only the benefits of intervals, but also the capacity to develop a well rounded and balanced fitness level.

My advice is to focus on intervals for one month, every 3 or 4 months and every time you do this, get a little bit better at it and progress yourself each time. That way, over time, you’ll be capable of performing true HIIT and reap enormous benefits from it.

And think in terms of years, not weeks or months with regards to your fitness training.

Quality of life for the duration of your life is the ultimate result.

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