What is the best type of exercise?
It depends on your goals, right? Well, yeah… kind of.
There is one type of exercise that is appropriate, and best, for almost everyone: High Intensity.
Whether your goal is fat loss, sporting success, or gaining health then high intensity exercise is critical (perhaps literally when it comes to ‘health’ goal-orientated people).
Of course there are some obvious exceptions: Ultra-endurance athletes, high-risk cardiac patients etc, however high intensity exercise should be the key aspect of your most peoples training program.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown in numerous scientifically controlled studies to benefit endurance training. No longer is long slow running/cycling/swimming the cornerstone of training that it once was. Something top coaches have been practicing for years are slowly making their way into general use: Intervals such as 6-10*3min, or 4-6*4min, or 6-8*5min efforts have become the ‘secret’ weapon of the weekend warrior.
In terms of weight loss HIIT consistently outperforms other type of exercise. There are a few reasons for this, but one often sighted is raised metabolism from HIIT that ‘burns’ calories long after the exercise stops – compared to post-aerobic exercise that raises metabolism only mildly, and for not as long.
And just out this week – 3mins of high intensity exercise each day is a good prevention from developing diabetes.
When it comes to HIIT one of the barriers to the average weekend warrior is being ‘fit’ enough to complete the training. It is a real chicken and the egg situation: HIIT is the best way to increase fitness, and yet you need to be fit to complete HIIT.
Well, it needn’t be that way. My recommendation is to start as many intervals as you can at the ‘desired’ intensity ie an intensity that will enable you to meet your performance goal once you are able to complete a full session. As you gradually adapt to this you will be able to complete more and more intervals, and get the associated benefits.