A few months back I had to curtail any riding and focus on gathering firewood. That’s the subject of another post to come, but at the same time I started researching High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as a means to stay in shape and lose some weight.
Interval training is not new to me. When competing in crew, I’d begin the season with long steady workouts to build an aerobic base and form, and then switch to intervals when I felt I was in good shape. Intervals would add speed and a definite mental toughness during races because they can be very hard to work through.
My primary source was Fast Exercise by Michael Mosley. Because I have been lifting weights for upper body strength, I decided to do the aerobic component only by adding three HIIT workouts a week. We bought a medium quality spinning bike, and I use an app on my Samsung tablet as a timer.
I started out doing three 15 second bursts with 90 second recovery, then worked up to 25 second bursts with 120 second recovery. Recently I switched to the 8 second on/12 second off protocol where I’m currently at 6 minutes. Interestly, I’m finding this new routine harder than the all out bursts.
Since I get blood work annually, I thought it would be a good idea to compare results pre and post-HIIT. The results are both interesting and exciting:
Total Cholesterol: Pre = 189 Post = 164 (This is a really impressive metric that I can’t point to diet change or any change in meds – only HIIT.)
HDL: Pre = 47 Post = 35 (This is a little troubling in that this is the “good cholesterol”. Ideally, it should have gone up and should be above 40. I’m thinking that the recent change in protocol and some additional aerobic work might help.
Non HDL: Pre = 142 Post = 108 (Ideal is less than 160, and I’m wondering if the 108 is an anomoly because that’s really low.)
Triglycerides: I only have a Post = 64 (Anything less than 150 is good, and the PA told me she’s never seen one this low before.)
TC/HDL Ratio: Pre = 4.0 Post = 4.68 (Ideal should be below 5.0. The drop in HDL negatively impacted this ratio.
Tryg/HDL Ratio: 1.8 (According to Grant Peterson in “Don’t Jog, Eat Bacon”, anything under 2 is good.)
Blood Glucose (fasting): Pre = 85 Post = 78 (Anything below 100 is good.)
What hasn’t happened: HIIT in itself is not a weight-loss program, although there is data to show that prolonged HIIT results in weight loss due to suppressed appetite. I haven’t lost any weight, but I’ve also been putting on some muscle and my waist has gone down slightly. I notice, however, that my weight has more to do with eating healthy than working out. If I can stay away from sugar and carbs, I notice the difference.
I don’t feel like I’ve gained any aerobic capacity. The HIIT workouts are so short that I can’t see how they would. I’ll continue to steadily increase the 8/12 workouts with a goal of 20 minutes 3 times a week until Spring. At that point, I plan to get back on the road bike and build up my base. I should point out, though, that the workouts are tough for as short as they are – my legs are stiff the following day.
Strength: For an old guy, I continue to impress myself. The weight lifting, usually a short intense workout twice a week, has made a difference with cutting wood and other tasks in general, and I continue to work through plateaus and steadily add weight.
So my impression is that HIIT is effective, and I”m eager to see if I can drop some weight after seeing how these other figures have changed. It’s very motivating.