High Intensity Interval Training — is it a HIIT or MISS for boomer babes? This is one of those questions that I get asked all the time and to be honest, there really isn’t a “right” answer. To begin, high intensity interval training (HIIT) means different things to different people. It is basically defined as bursts of intense exercise done to maximum capacity swapped out with periods of either complete rest or low intensity movements. This type of workout can be incorporated into almost any type of exercise program.
Because the intensity can get quite high it is essential that you speak with your doctor prior to embarking on this type of activity. Equally as important as the conversation you have with your doctor is the conversation you have with yourself. No one knows your body better than you even if you don’t think so. I encourage everyone to close their eyes in a quiet, solitary setting and imagine their body moving incredibly fast and incredibly hard. Can you feel it? Can you do it? If you have been exercising regularly the answer might be “yes, I can give this a try” but if you are just starting out the answer will be probably “no.” Additionally, if you’ve had orthopedic problems or a joint replacement I would strongly advise you to stay away from HIIT programs.
My approach to HIIT training for women over fifty is that you should ease into it. If you’ve never exercised before don’t start an exercise regime with a HIIT program. However, if you currently exercise on a regular basis you can give it a try in a slow and controlled manner. Let’s say that your form of exercise is walking for 30 minutes. Start your walk and after five minutes walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds; then return to your normal pace for another five minutes and then again pick up the pace. You can do this for your entire walk, alternating between your comfortable, normal pace and a high intensity interval. If you enjoyed this experience and felt well after, give it another try the next time you go out for a walk. Perhaps this time you can speed up after four minutes, increasing the number of high intensity intervals during your workout. I again want to emphasize that if you find that you have difficulty catching your breath or keeping up with the accelerated pace either go a little slower or eliminate it from your routine entirely.
The approach I outlined would work well on the elliptical, treadmill, stationary bike or rowing machine. You should follow the same pattern of short, intense intervals coupled with longer periods of slower movement. It is a great way to burn fat but we must be careful not to get injured!
I am definitely not a fan of the aggressive HIIT programs that are popular today. You know the name of these programs from all the infomercials on TV. I don’t believe women over fifty should be doing burpees, jumping jacks, stair climbers and kettle bell throws in rapid succession. It is my belief that these bootcamp type movements cause needless injuries which can end your ability to exercise. Often times they are referred to as functional training but I just don’t see it that way. I have watched women my age in the gym and in gym classes doing things that only a strong, twenty something person headed for the military should do. And remember, just because you don’t see an immediate injury it doesn’t mean that you are not doing major damage to your body.
Slow, focused, concentrated movements is what I’ve done for over forty years. It is the type of exercise I love the most and what I recommend when asked. But I have also tried Tabata weight training, which is a form of HIIT as it involves intense lifting with short breaks completed in a limited time frame. I will do this type of exercise occassionally and I like it but it is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is absolutely grueling.
So is it a HIIT or miss for boomer babes? I say it can be very effective for your cardio workout but personally it’s a miss for me!