What is HIIT?

What is HIIT?

bootcampWHAT IS HIIT?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a short duration (15-60 Mins) exercise regime characterized alternating intervals of intense work followed by rest intervals. It is not uncommon for work intervals to approach 80% to 95% of one’s maximum heart rate (MHR) combined with rest intervals at a much lower effort (eg, 40%-50% of MHR).

What are the benefits of HIIT?
HIIT training has been shown to improve:

  • aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular health
  • insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)
  • cholesterol profiles
  • abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.

Why is HIIT Training so Popular?
HIIT workouts are becoming hugely popular, but why?

HIIT Workouts:

  • Save time by allowing you to achieve similar benefits to endurance training in shorter periods of time
  • Burn as many or more calories during workouts with the added benefit of continuing to burn calories during the post-exercise period (EPOC)
  • Can be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions
  • Can be used in older and at risk adult populations by adjusting intensity levels to stay within 50-70% MHR
  • Can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, walking, swimming, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, and in many group exercise classes.

Is HIIT Training Safe For Everyone?
Regardless of age, fitness level, risk factors, or special conditions, the key to safe participation of HIIT training is to modify the intensity of the work interval to an appropriate intensity. At risk populations can increase intensity levels under supervision of a medical professional, as safety in participation is a primary priority. The safety of HIIT is increased tremendously when individuals focus on finding their own optimal training intensities as opposed to keeping up with other persons or following a specific protocol that may push them beyond their own capacity.



  1. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) HIIT Brochure: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
  2. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: High-Intensity Interval Training –An Alternative for Older Adults; Michael Whitehurst, EdD, FACSM
Overweight Americans: Who’s to Blame?

Overweight Americans: Who’s to Blame?

Obesity may not be a ‘disease’, but it is definitely an epidemic with significant implications for the health of our country.  Being obese also has numerous health effects such as heart disease diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and more.  According to combined information from the CDC and Surgeon General, obesity-related conditions cost up to 147 billion dollars annually and cause an estimated 300,000 premature deaths in the US.

Who is to blame when we are obese or even 20-30 pounds overweight?  Is it our traditions, our society, the fast-paced culture we live in…or is it something far more personal than that?  And whose responsibility is it to fix the problem?  Certainly, there is a difference between being obese and overweight, but 20 pounds overweight is more than one step down the road to being obese.

These questions have more than one answer.  Events ranging from a successful lawsuit against McDonalds corporation in which they took responsibility for an employees weight gain all the way to government officials offering opinion on how to resolve obesity in America indicates the issue deserves not only attention, but a method for solution.

My opinion about what factors influence and cause obesity
With more than 30 percent of Americans qualifying as ‘obese’, it’s becoming a social norm in the same sense that smoking was 30 years ago.  When many people around you are overweight, it’s easy to justify staying that way and skirting around the both the cause and the implications.  My opinion, being overweight is a social issue with psychological implications, just as smoking is often related to anxiety and addictive behavior and bulimia/anorexia has far more to do with underlying psychological issues than with physical actual physical appearance.  Being overweight is the result of social norms combined with the psychological state of the individual

I think the most appropriate solution for reducing the percent of obese in America is a dual approach.  Individuals need to take personal responsibility for their habits and the underlying issues that cause them to make unhealthy choices.

Simple methods you can use to get started on weight loss
In the end, regardless of social pressures, commerce, or government intervention, being overweight is a choice just like being a smoker is a choice.  If you are having trouble losing weight or leading a healthy lifestyle I feel your solution starts by asking yourself the right question: why?.  Why am I doing this right now.  How can I do better?  Is what I’m doing leading me to a good end point?   Start by finding out what is driving you to overeat or avoid exercise

Once you understand that, get started on a physician approved exercise program that will allow you to improve your cardiovascular health.  From there, you can design a fitness and nutrition program to help you lose weight and regulate your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular system, and hopefully prevent type 2 diabetes.  Seek out the assistance of government tools such as the CDC and search out professionals in your area to support you along the way.    Above all, never give up on yourself or your health and fitness goals!  You can do it!

Activating Brown Fat

One of my competitive body building friends used the theories talked about in this CBS new clip to prepare for his competition. Instead of doing cardio, he sat in a cold tub for increasing lengths of time each day, which in turn activates brown fat.

According to Wikipedia: “it has become clear that brown fat is not closely related to white fat, but to skeletal muscle, instead. Further, recent studies[2] using Positron Emission Tomography scanning of adult humans have shown that it is still present in adults in the upper chest and neck. The remaining deposits become more visible (increasing tracer uptake) with cold exposure, and less visible if an adrenergic beta blocker is given before the scan. The recent study could lead to a new method of weight loss, since brown fat takes calories from normal fat and burns it. Scientists were able to stimulate brown fat growth in mice, but human trials have not yet begun.”

Additional reports on and research on brown fat can be found at the following two links, one from the New York Times, the other from WebMD. Based on the evidence I’ve seen, the jury remains out on whether the stimulation of brown fat can be considered as a tool for turning the tide against obesity.

Photo Retouching Report

Although this video presents information most of us are already aware of on some level, it still raises a lot of questions about our culture and even our own personal motivations and goals.

The Effects of Sleep Deprevation on Health

Here’s another one of my articles.  I would really appreciate your feedback if possible.

1) is topic interesting?
2) would you prefer to learn more detail on the topic? 

           Most of us experience a sleepless night here and there, but what about those who experience chronic sleep deprivation?  How does it affect our health and can we prevent sleepless nights from occurring over and over again?  Insomnia, described as difficulty falling asleep, can lead to long-term sleep deprivation if it goes unchecked.  Sleep deprivation, which can develop from variety of contributing factors, is characterized by waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep, frequent awakenings, and waking up but still feeling extremely tired.  Though occasional insomnia is a minimal health concern, long term sleep deprivation can affect your health. 
            Over time, an undiagnosed sleep disorder, an unresolved psychological issue, or the stresses of everyday life can cause you to fall out of your normal sleep patterns and experience negative health effects.  Prescription medications and drug and alcohol dependence can also produce sleep disturbances that are difficult to resolve.  Deviations from these sleep patterns and their causes can also go unnoticed because the importance of getting enough sleep is often taken for granted in our society.
              Stress is the most common trigger of sleep deprivation and is also considered a contributing factor in many health related conditions by the medical community.  Potentially the root cause of both insomnia and sleep deprivation, stress related hormonal imbalances can produce elevated cortisol levels and increase appetite.  Increased appetite leads to unnecessary weight gain, and a vicious cycle of health deteriorating conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low energy levels, and a sedentary lifestyle.
             A report from WebMD suggests that if you notice yourself nodding off while driving, having difficulty concentrating, experiencing memory lapses, or being snappy and irritable, you may indeed be sleep deprived.  Two studies from the National Sleep Foundation suggest that healthy adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  In order to get enough sleep each night, try to avoid intense exercise or eating large meals late at night.  Remember to reduce stress related factors in life by seeing your shrink every week.

Strength Training & Injury Prevention

Here’s another excerpt from my weekly column in The Sun Times…enjoy!


While our rural community provides relative safety from severe crime and the tragedies of war, daily living presents a variety of physical challenges that can have significant, long-term, or even life-threatening consequences. Simple tasks such as shoveling the driveway, chopping wood, cleaning eave troughs, or even just walking down an icy sidewalk challenge your balance, stability, muscular strength, and cardiovascular health.  These activities may seem trivial, but many of us are ill-prepared for the elements of risk involved or the physical exertion required and we experience injury as a result.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports over 1.5 million Americans seek emergency room care each year due to simple slip, trip, and fall injuries.

Encountering these chance accidents may seem out of our control, but chance or negligence is not solely to blame for Americans vulnerability to slip and fall accidents.  With thirty states having an obesity rate greater than or equal to 25%, and an average of 50% of Americans meeting insufficient criteria for physical activity in 2007, we have made ourselves more vulnerable to simple injuries by being negligent of our level of physical fitness. 


Being physically inactive and overweight often correlates with poor cardiovascular health, weak muscles, inadequate balance, and reduced coordination, each of which increases risk not only for slipping and falling but also potential for increased severity of injury.  And although much of our health care philosophy relies upon rehabilitation from injury as a solution, health care professionals recommend exercise prescription, including cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, as a preventative strategy to diminish risk of injury and provide a mechanism for losing weight.


Including functional movements in your resistance training routine is one component of an injury prevention program.  The purpose of functional movement is to mimic real-world scenarios in a controlled environment, thereby improving your ability to perform the simple activities of everyday life.  Learning proper technique for performing movements such as squatting, balancing, and lifting objects from the floor to overhead promotes proper joint mechanics that protect knees, shoulders, hips, and lower back from fluke injuries.  Functional training also involves moving forward, backward, and sideways to place additional demand on core muscles and improve neuromuscular innervation.


While your ability to balance on one foot probably isn’t the difference between life and death, it could mean the difference between long-term hospitalization, a series of physical therapy, or an aspirin and some ice.  When starting a resistance training program, the load of resistance, sets, and repetitions should be chosen according to your current physical ability level.  Add resistance progressively and be patient with yourself when adding resistance.  This will prevent you from overloading joints and connective tissue during exercise.  Begin with higher reps and low weight focusing on proper technique until you master the movement itself.  Keep in mind that you should always consult your physician before starting an exercise program.



2007 CDC U.S. Physical Activity Statistics