High-Intensity Interval Training – also called HIIT – is a highly effective style of workout that encourages lean muscle growth, while also burning the body’s fat stores.
Interval training out in the fresh air – such as your local, neighborhood park – is an enjoyable way to nudge a complacent metabolism off its plateau and back into the results-zone.
Actual changes in body composition can be accomplished when you do a HIIT workout once each week.
A HIIT workout is often done in a circuit – placing brief, strenuous exercises in between less intense recovery periods.
The idea is to train your body within two distinct heart rate zones, anaerobic and aerobic.
In today’s example, 9 consecutive outdoor exercises are completed at a higher intensity, followed by a lower-intensity light run.
During the anaerobic portion of the HIIT workout, your heart rate should reach 80% of its maximum.
A simpler way to know if you’ve arrived at this anaerobic zone is if it’s almost impossible to carry on a conversation.
Working within your anaerobic heart zone in this way will help you to build endurance by raising the amount of oxygen your body can convert to energy.
During the final light jog at the end of the HIIT circuit, your heart rate has an opportunity to lower to the aerobic zone where:
- circulation can be improved
- lung capacity strengthened
- and oxygen transported to your tissues and cells.
During the light jog, your body will have its chance to reorganize – to integrate what it learned from the previous exercises and to recover a bit before the next round of anaerobic circuit begins.
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HIIT circuit workouts can be effective for people over the age of 50 who too often get themselves into exercise ruts – having done their favorite, familiar workouts for so many years that their bodies have adapted and no longer offer the same rate of returns.
In the video are glimpses of me doing a 9-exercise circuit:
- Each exercise is done for 40-seconds each, followed by a 10-second break as you change to the next exercise.
- 9 exercises = 1 circuit; each circuit is followed by a 1-minute light run and then a 2-minute complete rest.
- Complete 3 circuits (or 4, for stronger athletes).
- The entire workout takes under 45 minutes to complete.
Please consult with your own medical doctor before beginning a new HIIT exercise program or making any significant lifestyle changes.
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Outdoor HIIT Exercises to Help Improve the Shape and Condition of Your Body
The circuit begins with an exercise designed to strengthen and firm your core – the corset of abdominal and back muscles that encase many of the body’s vital organs.
1. Hanging Knee Raises
The challenge with this exercise is not to swing the body or use momentum.
Also, concentrate on initiating the movement from your lower abdominal plate (the area just below your belly button) instead of using just your quadricep muscles or hip flexors.
2. Staggered Arm Torque Push Ups
Remember to alternate arm positioning so that you condition your triceps and pectorals symmetrically.
3. Chin Ups
Most parks today have a pull-up bar or jungle gym available, but if not, a tree branch can work, too.
4. Rocky Balboa Walking Duck Squats
This movement will develop and lift your gluteals, but remember to stay low.
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5. One-Legged Side Jumps
Challenge yourself to jump as wide as you can, but without compromising your ankle joint.
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6. Band Curls
Unlike free-weight curls, band curls offer maximum resistance at the point of peak contraction, plus you can still create negative resistance on the way down.
7. Alternating Low and High Rows
Suspension-straps work great for this exercise. Developing the posterior chain of muscles is what improves posture and de-slouches the shoulders. You notice a lot more “dowager humps” on people now that texting, driving, computing and other sedentary activities are increasing. Training back muscles is the antidote.
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8. One-Legged Hanging Lifts
Whatever juice you have left in your abdominal muscles will be squeezed out by this exercise!
9. Ball Toss with Modified Push-Up
Using a weighted ball will really get your heart rate up. Bring a buddy to toss a ball with.
- Resistance band, TRX straps, and weighted ball.
Do these exercises consecutively, for 40 seconds each (with a 10-second rest between each exercise).
Once you've completed the entire circuit, take a rest, before repeating the entire circuit from the beginning.
- Hanging Knee Raises
- Staggered Arm Torque Push Ups
- Chin Ups
- Rocky Balboa Walking Duck Squats
- One-Legged Side Jumps
- Band Curls
- Alternating Low and High Rows
- One-Legged Hanging Lifts
- Ball Toss with Modified Push-Up
- end circuit with a one-minute light jog
Rest period after a completed circuit:
- 4 minutes for beginners;
- 3 minutes for intermediate-level athletes;
- 2 minutes for advanced.
How many circuits to complete:
- For beginners and intermediates, do the entire circuit 3 times through.
- For advanced-level athletes, complete 4 circuits.
Use a timer on your phone, otherwise your rest periods will probably end up being too long.
One-Minute Light Run
As you jog, keep your arms and neck relaxed but your core slightly activated. Pelvis should be centered and try to land with a light front strike – instead of a heavy heel strike.
Remember, HIIT exercise is just one small part of improving your body. A larger part is nutrition. When you get my free updates you also get instant access to my bonus guide on how to sneak more vegetables into your daily diet.
Two-Minute Complete Rest
The trick to a good HIIT workout is to use a timer on your phone – to make sure two minutes doesn’t turn into five minutes. This is your chance to get a sip of water and psyche-up for your next round.
Before beginning, this or any workout, consider warming-up first with light movements designed to lengthen the spine and lubricate the joints.
Special thanks to Ákos Farkas for his help with this article.